Being a good bottom is like having someone very important over for dinner. You want to cook them whatever they like. Everything must be perfect, not just to please them, but to please you, too.
Being a good bottom isn’t just about lazily “taking it.” It’s about getting what you want while giving your Top what he or she wants. Bottoming involves playful manipulation of your better half, getting pleasure from relinquishing control and, most importantly, mutual satisfaction.
If you haven’t realized this already, I’m not talking about that cushy thing you sit on. I’m talking about “bottoming” in a sexual or BDSM (bondage/dominance/sadism/masochism) scenario. That is, being the submissive counterpart to your dominant partner (oyour “Top”—always with a capital “T” to illustrate their relative position to your lowercase “b”). Though we’ve previously discussed the basics of BDSM and the Top/bottom dynamic in “The Ties That Bind” (October 28, 2010), there’s more to bottoming than getting spanked.
Bottoming doesn’t always occur in an official BDSM scene, though BDSM is where a specific bottoming identity becomes important. Bottoms take many forms—the person who receives a flogging by his or her Master, the person who enjoys being roughed up in bed, or the one who subtly demands to be sexually pampered. Many people ask about bottoms —what’s in it for them? Isn’t bottoming degrading? Anti-feminist? Painful?
Bottoming clearly separates itself from the sexual acceptance of abuse because all degradation, physical sensations and role-playing are consensual. Limits are discussed with the Top before beginning a “scene” and are continually adjusted throughout play for bottom’s comfort. A single safe-word stops everything.
Bottoms generally feel empowered by pushing their physical and emotional boundaries, playing certain roles different than those in their everyday lives, or deriving pleasure from giving themselves to their Tops. In BDSM scenes, many bottoms report slipping into “bottom space” or “sub space,” an altered consciousness reached during bottoming in which their relationships to themselves, their fantasies or their partners become different from what they are on a regular basis. People can often become dramatized versions of their everyday selves or express themselves in opposing ways when in bottom space: when tied in bondage rope, a bossy woman may become non-verbal. When being spanked, a shy guy may become a terrible brat. Other people describe spiritual experiences, hyperactivity or just feeling plain stoned.
But bottoms have work to do, too. Before starting a scene, have serious talks about your boundaries, wishes and safe-words and establish aftercare and emergency plans. Be honest about your limits and only take on what you can actually handle, remaining open to the fact that these lines can blur and change mid-scene.
For example, many bottoms experience a rapid onset of panic when in bondage. As a bottom, it is your responsibility to signal this to your Top ASAP and, in turn, it’s your Top’s responsibility to be prepared to get you out of there and also know exactly how to take care of you afterwards. Whips and chains are great fun but aftercare is an important aspect of BDSM, especially for a bottom. Do you want to be snuggled, bathed or just left alone in a quiet place?
Carefully select your Tops, especially with more advanced BDSM work. An inexperienced Top wielding a flogger can do serious damage. It’s crucial to your safety and fun that you trust your Top with your body and mind—this person’s about to get you into some vulnerable positions, whether that be tying you up, slapping you around or coaxing you into a submissive role.
There’s no single right way to Top or bottom. Do you want a Top who’s bossy, verbal, physical, grouchy, sassy, leather-clad or femmey? What kind of activities and repercussions do you want? Do you want bruises to show off or do you have a business meeting tomorrow? Do you want to be tied up, spanked (with what?) or just made to perform…services?
The New Bottoming Book will tell you exactly how to get that handprint across the cheek precisely where, when and how you want it. Now, bottoms up!