So, I was reading… I think it was Radical Ecstasy, but I might be wrong… and one of the authors was talking about how, in so many books on SM, the actions and work of the bottom/masochist get ignored. That they only ever talked about techniques and tricks for the top.
And she’s right.
It’s very, very rare that I see anything in print that talks about techniques for pain processing or for working yourself towards your Happy Place (or your Scared All To Hell Place, as the case may be. Wherever the scene is meant to take you, at any rate), or for running that energy through you and back out to complete the circuit between you and your top (hint: this will help your top stay energized)… granted, I tend not to seek out stuff that’s specifically about bottoming, so I do have a bit of a bias here. Has anyone else noticed this?
Anyway. Trick is, when I have read “How To SM” books (Screw the Roses, The New Topping Book, The Safe Edge, etc) what I’ve seen is typically writing that only ever talks about the experience of the bottom and the facilitation of that experience through the actions of the top. A situation that leaves me, as a top, feeling a bit like I’m expected to be nothing but a operating system for a flogger (as the saying goes) or else that if I experience something like “top drop” (a situation so common that it has its own cutesy name, no less) or otherwise need aftercare, I’m Doing It Wrong either because I need it at all, or because I’ve had the audacity to ask for some when the scene is supposed to be all about the bottom.
It was, therefore, interesting to see someone coming at it from a different perspective. It’s a good reminder that we can all get caught in a dichotomy of “bottom = vulnerable/passive” and “top = active/invulnerable”, a dichotomy that’s a little too simplistic to really work in real life.
I think there are holes, at least in The Published Stuff, around how doing a scene “is supposed to” go. When I was learning “how to top”, what I was learning was how to aim a cain, how insert a needle, how to swing a flogger. That kind of thing. I was learning that tops check in with bottoms rather than (or to the exclusion of?) checking in with themselves. And I was learning, by-the-book, that SM energy was unidirectional Top–>Bottom.
In practice, thank goodness, it’s something else. But how to reach for and establish that link, from both directions, and using different techniques – whether low-key or High Woo – that stuff wasn’t typically treated as even something to consider in the intro books I was reading.
Maybe that’s because they were “intro books” and How To Books typically aim to, well, aim and avoid things like broken bones and miscommunications. None the less, it’s important to talk about stuff like how Reactions on the part of the bottom are actions on their part and are integral to the scene going well; or Syncronizing your breathing can deepen a given scene; or A top might need a glass of orange juice, a cuddle, and some crackers with peanut butter after a scene to help with recovery, just as much as a bottom might.
I’d like to see the complexity of these interactions given more air time. I think it will make us all better (and by that I mean more satisfied) perverts if we have the chance to bring that stuff up and look at it in the light. 🙂
Ms Syren.