Detangling some different meanings in top/bottom

{I’ve had like, a completely different form for a post on this topic in my head for literally years. Doesn’t look like that one’s getting written at least any time soon, and I had some stuff that caused different thoughts since, but currently had some thoughts in a new form and want to write something!}

(Additional/general/underlying point: It is really, really common for these to be conflated, tangled, assumed to go together, etc, in ways that do harm, interfere with communication and self-understanding, etc, including domist ways.)

  • Who is physically or otherwise actively doing things (vs having them done to them).

  • If there is a power dynamic, who is the d-side.

    • I had a whole thought-set on how a meaning of topping was a kind of ‘semi-domming’. Then I read the beginning of The New Topping Book, where top/bottom are just used to mean d-side/s-side basically entirely, and ran into more posts and stuff, and – yeah it’s in fact often more than that.
      ~
    • One issue that comes up is that there’s not actually enough conscious attention to whether or not a scene in fact has a power dynamic. A lot of unspoken defaults and etc mean that things people will sometimes go talk about as ‘only physical topping’ in fact totally have an unspoken power dynamic going on. This is a problem in a variety of ways.
      ~
    • I think the combination of these two can get in fact kind of gaslight-y at people.
  • Who is leading/directing action.

    • Note that this is not actually the same as the active-doing meaning, though they’re often conflated. Example: telling someone how to hit/touch/tie/etc you.
      ~
    • Again, neither a ‘one person does one and the other does the other’ nor a binary. ‘Fluid (or for that matter non-fluid but say determined by preset signals) turn taking’ and ‘cooperative construction’ are things that can be done.
      ~
    • Also variation in how this can be done – ‘person 1 decides what to do and does it’, ‘person 1 decides what to do and tells person 2 to do that’, ‘person 1 has an idea and says to person 2 ‘how about this”, etc, can be possible and different dynamics.
  • Who is responsible for/doing ‘scene emotional work’.

    • I’ve come more to conceptualizing this as a category, and have struggled for a while with how to refer to it. At the moment here using the above.
      ~
    • Credit to Xan West for a lot of these thoughts – see Two Footing and Holding the Scene in the essay One Sadist’s Consent.
      ~
    • Scene emotional work is the work that goes into keeping things ok and well, noticing if there’s a problem and doing something about it, etc. One example, going to what Xan talked about, is ‘staying present’ in the ‘real world’ to notice things like ‘it is a bad idea to go farther’, ‘something has gone wrong’, etc. Another example is making sure aftercare needs get met.
      ~
    • One of the things Xan points out is that there’s often a very strong implicit idea/expectation that the ‘top’ (in the d-side sense and conflated/tangled with others) does this work, and the bottom does not (and that this idea/expectation is a problem).
      ~
    • One additional place I’ve seen this: there’s recently been more recognition and discussion of the fact that ‘tops’ can also need aftercare. (Which is very good and important and should continue and strengthen). However, at least I personally have not actually seen much discussion on how tops getting aftercare is conceptualized. I think this is largely due to this bringing up tension with ‘expectation that ‘bottom’ is not doing scene emotional work’.
      >
      (To be clear, wanting to be free from expectations of this scene work and have someone else take it on is a valid thing to want or to need for scenes to work for you. However, like wants and needs in general, dynamics of this ought to be part of negotiations and compatibility, rather than implicitly assumed in a one-size-for-all.)
      ~
    • I was going to put planning the scene here, then it occurred to me it could also go under leading/directing, then it occurred to me that leading/directing could itself be seen as under emotional work. I think the best model for me currently is to continue to separate them out, with the leading/direction (where I do think scene planning/genesis/impetus properly falls) being a type of emotional work in the broader sense but in a different category than this one here.
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Fun fact: submissives who have specific desires, who have desires, needs, etc about how exactly they want things to happen, etc, are still submissives and as valid as anyone

Just because they’re not compatible with *you* doesn’t mean they aren’t themselves.

(You very much get to not do things with them! You don’t get to try to kick them out of the word.)

(This post is brought to you by me reading posts and being upset.)

entitled male subs, and domism

There’s a thing that happens where people respond to particular types of bad things being done by male subs by throwing domism at them. 

This is bad.

{reposted from my Tumblr}

(I want to talk about this better but I just read a post and am annoyed so.)

There’s a thing that happens where people respond to particular types of bad things being done by male subs by throwing domism at them.

This is bad.

If a person is doing the ‘treating a domme like a fetish delivery’ thing, sending dommes (etc) unsolicited fantasy messages or similar, etc, the thing they are doing wrong isn’t *having desires*.

Everyone gets to have their desires, and has equal rights to do so. They get to have as many desires as they do, in as much detail as they do. This is in no way something someone is doing wrong, and it in no way becomes bad or wrong if that someone is a sub.

The thing that person did wrong was *not considering the other person*. Like, that the other person also has desires (etc). (Which might mean an incompatibility, in which case that is not a person to seek that kind of connection with, or might have compatibility, in which case engaging with them is generally a part of seeking that kind of connection.) Like that the other person doesn’t want to be sent unsolicited fantasy messages. Etc.

Which is in fact just as wrong when doms do it (which also very much happens). And it’s wrong in the same way and for the same reasons. Which are consent, and boundaries, and consideration for others rather than entitlement, etc, and not some domist bs like ‘reversing d/s’ or ‘taking the power out of power exchange’*.

*[quotes slightly modified due to vagueblogging]

two paradigms, and domism

While domism comes in a lot of forms, facets, ways, places, etc, one particular thread of domism I tend to encounter a lot I see as tying back to/coming out of a particular [domist] paradigm. As such, I wanted to make a brief post about said paradigm.

The way I look at d/s and related things around it tends to go something like ‘various d-types, people who have interest in d-type things, etc, and various s-types, people who have interest in s-type things, etc, have their own various both needs and desires for themselves and things they want to and find it fulfilling to provide for a partner. Some people are compatible with each other in these ways, some people aren’t. Mutually positive relationships can be found through compatibility, care, and communication’.

Conversely, the domist paradigm that can show up goes something like ‘d-types have things they want, and s-types should give that to them’.

(Note: some people have ‘give my partner what they want’ as in fact their desire. To me that fits perfectly well into the paradigm I hold – that can be a desire people can have (which doesn’t in any way mean it needs to be their only desire, or a desire without bounds), and can be part of what they’re looking to have with a partner. My objections to the domist paradigm are in the universalizing and ‘should-ing’, not in the validity of desires that happen to fit with it).