May/June 2002
Topping From Below
by dark whisper


Most Everyone within the BDSM lifestyle has heard the phrase. Most have their own ideas about what is, or is not, topping from below. Basically, the term describes a submissive attempting to be in charge of the dominant through some manner of manipulation.

The impetus of this article came from watching a "Master" with his submissive interact in my usual chat room. The submissive was in a "brat" mode, and the dominant played right into her hands. At first, I thought this was part of a scene, a roleplay… but it became clearer as the posts continued that she was manipulating him to get what she wanted - which was punishment.

What truly amused and amazed me was that after he fell all over himself to "take the upper hand" and punish her for her behavior, she spouts off with "I need to go to bed, can you punish me tomorrow?" I simply lost my composure when he replied with: "I am agreeable to that, it gives you time to ponder your actions."

I thought about that for quite some time. I wonder if either of them are aware that the submissive was clearly the one in charge of this little display. She created a situation in which she needed to be "punished." Her punishment of choice was scene. He followed right along the trail of bread crumbs and gave her what she wanted, but by then, when she was firmly in control, she decided to push it further and put it off until she was ready. The sub in Dominant's clothing which was her "Master" happily played along.

Topping from below is one of the hardest things to curb in a submissive who is used to getting her/his own way. Often, they don't even realize what they are doing, and if the dominant is inexperienced or unsure of themselves, it can set a pattern for the rest of the relationship. A relationship with unclear lines and undefined roles.

A submissive, by definition, is under the control and guidance of their dominant. There are differing degrees of that control, and when all is said and done, whatever boundaries are set up and agreed upon by both parties is all that truly matters.

But I have to admit, it gives me a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach to watch such a blatant disrespect of a dominant by a submissive. There are far better, and less disrespectful ways of requesting physical play/scene/pain.

The most obvious being: ask for it. Most dominants truly care about the needs and desires of their submissives. And while it is ultimately up to the dominant about whether or not to grant that pleasure (and/or WHEN), at least it is done honestly… and may perhaps please the dominant. According to several, it's "sexy" when a submissive has a desire to squirm under the hand of their Dom/me.

Communication is key. In all aspects of D/s, communication is the single most important part of a relationship. Talk about expectations and preferred methods of handling needs and desires of the submissive. Face it, submissives have needs just as real as dominants do, and if a dominant consistently shunts those aside, resentment and anger will build.

But trying to force a dominant to do something the submissive wants is not the way to go about fulfilling those needs.

'Tis a recipe for disaster.

© dark whisper - A Dark Whisper of Sound