The book on bottoming

I went looking for something new to read on the flight home and picked up The New Bottoming Book.

As an aside, let me point out for a moment that while the Amazon Kindle might be the best thing to ever happen to taking books along on vacation (maybe it isn’t, I don’t know), what it has done to my reading habits is ensure I never finish any books. If I lose interest for only a second, I just tap the little shopping cart and have a whole new book on my device in about six seconds. Not the best for those of us with attention spans formed by watching too much MTV as a kid. Anyway…

A few random thoughts regarding random passages I’ve highlighted as I’ve gotten 27% of the way through (the Kindle tell you that, you know, but not what page you’re on, so I can’t tell you where these are exactly).

When we bottom, we feel nurtured and taken care of — so, paradoxically, we may feel safer in the “dangerous” world of S/M than anywhere else.

The parallels are not exact, which I’ll get to in a minute, but this is absolutely true. A lot of people may (do) ask, why in the world would you want to give up your orgasms or wear a chastity device or fill in the blank with any sub-type sacrifice? And yes, on the face of it, it may seem strange to want to give up freedoms or basic pleasures, but in exchange I feel like I get so much more. Belle wanted me back in the Steelheart as soon as we got home last night so I was. And it was a pain because I’ve been out for so long and my body forgot what it was like to be in and it woke me up like four times when the stupid penis tried to get hard and, good lord, on the face of it, why o why do that? But I didn’t once feel put out. I didn’t once feel annoyed by it. I felt just what the authors said in the quote. Taken care of. Comforted.

Being locked up is a physical manifestation of Belle’s love for me. It’s what I need and she gives it to me. Submitting to her makes me all warm and gooey inside. It just does.

Bottoming offers us a chance to please the people we care about, with a perfect pedicure, a dusted mantlepiece, really skillful oral sex, of whatever else gives pleasure.

Again, true. And this is one of those areas where I think I’m a sucky sub. I want to do things for Belle and make her happy, but she likes to do things for herself. To the point that by the time I thickly understand she needs help, she’s all pissed at me for not. And I’m just not very creative when it comes to thinking of things I could do for her. Also, I’m a slug and need to be given a jolt to move. So, I’m bad at spontaneously seeing things and she’s bad at asking. Something we both need to work on, but me especially.

I recently suggested that she could “order” me to do things for her by saying “I’ll let you do such and such for me.” Seems like a good phrase because I do want her to let me do things for her and she’s not so good at always using the standard issue hawt domme lingo. Also, “I’ll let you do this for me” can be said in front of the Muggles and they’ll never know any D/s is happening at all. She used it once already and just hearing the words turned me on and energized me. I hope we can keep this in the repertoire.

The part where it gets kind of fuzzy for me is the “if you were a halfway decent partner, you’d want to help anyway” thing. True. But I can’t help the subbie pixie dust that gets sprinkled on stuff she “lets me do” for her. I can’t separate it. And why bother? If it works, it works.

[T]he desires we play with are not rational. The desire you may have to be utterly bottom, to be operated by and operated on by another, to be very small, to be owned: this desire is not reasonable. It is, however, powerful, and even the best bottoms have many a desperate argument with themselves on the subject of lust versus sanity.

I needed to hear that. We kinky folk seem to spend so much time thinking about this shit. I know I do. Why? Why do I want this? Why does it make me feel good? Especially the other day. But, I read that and hear, “It’s OK to be a freak and stop thinking about it so much.” I’ll try.

“Normally, you have a ‘bubble’ of protectiveness you put around yourself to prevent yourself from being physically or emotionally hurt. When you agree to top someone, you’ve agreed to put that bubble around you and your partner for the duration of the scene.”

Except we don’t do scenes. Well, not as such. She will occasionally tie me up or hurt me, and I guess those are “scenes,” but we live this stuff. While I don’t think the sentiment is wrong at all, it just highlights how the book (so far) seems to be written with a very scene-based approach and not from a lifestyle perspective. That’s not a fault as I would assume most people are looking for that kind of POV.

In any event, it’s a good example of how hard it must be being the F in an FLR. Bubble extension? Like, all the time? Of course, she can’t do that. So I need to fill in the blanks for her when she’s not feeling it. Even if you don’t buy the bubble extension metaphor, I think it must be harder being a top all the time than a bottom only because topping, to me, sounds like a lot more work. Kinda related to this next one…

If you try to make your scene look exactly like your fantasy in every detail, you’re scripting too tightly: your top will find it virtually impossible to play with you, and you are very likely to encounter interruptions and disappointments as reality stubbornly refuses to conform to your fantasy. Fortunately  you can help reality along by running the complicated or excessive parts in your imagination.

This resonates because, as I said, above, sometimes I need to fill in the blanks created by Belle not wanting or being able to be what I need her to be 24/7/365. This is not a weakness on her part at all. It’s just reality.

Also, for those guys who are just starting out or trying to find a way to approach their partners about denial or chastity or FLR or whatever, reality will not be what your fantasy is. The faster you figure that out and not define success by how closely the two mesh, the happier you and your partner will be. They cannot be your fantasy partner because they are, in fact, real people with their own needs and desires, etc. It seems to me being in a D/s relationship — or any relationship — is compromising on those areas where your partner cannot meet your expectations, molding some of your expectations around those desires they are able to partially meet, and totally reveling in those areas where they meet or exceed your expectations. Your relationship is a Venn diagram and there will always be two circles, not just your one.

As I read more of the book and find things that move me to expound, I will. For now, though, that’s enough expounding.

16 thoughts on “The book on bottoming

  1. Thank you SO much for sharing not only this but also things that happen in your everyday life. As an aside, I have struggled for awhile with subs who really were only looking and only had the vision for sceening. Explaining to someone with just that viewpoint what I was really looking for was like pulling teeth. I’ve finally found someone with the same lifestyle viewpoint. What was said in your book about the protective bubble is something I’ve very much experienced and it can be draining without even realizing it’s happening. (because I’m so naturally high from the “play” – especially when it’s just in everyday life and not some sort of even partially choreographed play.) Creating “on the fly” is a blast, something I really get off on …and…yeah, it can drain the ever loving piss out of me. So be it, I wouldn’t change a thing!
    Thank Belle for allowing you to share! You guys continue to inspire me with each blog entry.
    By the way…you inspired me in another way to… Today marks one month that I’ve kept my blood sugar under 120 (taken first thing in the morning. ) that was made possible because of taking on putting regular exercise in my life, along with tons of fruits and veggies. Your “just do it” had an impact. Thank you!

  2. As good as this blog is (and it must be since I keep coming back to it time and time again and this is in no way my lifestyle or my husband [you want me to do what???]) I would seriously encourage you at some later date to pen your own book. You are funny, very articulate and real deal life. Your voice/story is much different than some that are written strictly for fantasy or the ‘scene’ scene.

  3. And besides, you live in a state and city that has more than their fair share of really very good authors. Must be all of that damn never ending cold weather you guys have. I mean, honestly….your choices are certainly limited when its 5 degrees every day. Write!!!

  4. It’s an interesting choice of words on the book author’s behalf. As most man who prefers to interact erotically with other men I’m acutely aware that the term “bottoming” has a strong historical association with the receptive role in the act of anal sex. When you read the term “bottom” in verb form, in the context of sexual literature, it literally means being fucked in the arse.

    I feel conflicted about this term also gaining use to mean a “submissive” role in S&M parlance. If the dominant is a woman and a male submissive fucks her does that make her the bottom or the top?

    It’s not just confusing but it also has subtle consequences outside hetero-normative sexual politics. Now before I open a powder keg please let me acknowledge that no-one “owns” words. Language is shared and organic. Words can, and do, coexist in different communities with quite different connotations and meanings. Aside from this I feel there is such a significant overlap between the gay and S&M communities that the term has been appropriated from it’s prior use within the gay community. It’s straightforward to postulate how such a situation could arise. A dominant (gay) man fucks his sub and describes the roles as “topping” and “bottoming”; those unfamiliar with the terminology assume this description refers to the interpersonal dynamic rather than the physical activity. The rest is history.

    But what kind of message does it create if a term describing a particular sexual act later becomes synonymous with a particular role on the S&M spectrum? Does it follow that in any relationship the person being fucked is always seen as in position of submission? Of course not; submissive men with dominant wives know this intuitively not to be true. But many young gay men, myself included, have struggled with that very concept at various times in their lives. The concept that a man being fucked makes is somehow less of a man originates from mysogynist ideology but it is still fairly pervasive in our culture (exhibit A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0kqobQRcUo )

    Welcoming another human being inside your body can, and should, be viewed as an empowering act for those that want it to be. After all a well timed clench, barrel-roll and you can snap someone’s motherfucking dick off. But in reality the association drawn between being fucked and giving up power creates a sense of shame that some gay men hold back and don’t enjoy they full spectrum of delights available to them. It’s an attitude that a number of people in the gay community are actively trying to counter.

    The sexual act of bottoming should apply equally to neutral, positive-skew and negative-skew power dynamics. As such I respectfully request that those in the S&M community reconsider their use of the word to refer exclusively to the act of submission.

    Please don’t think of this as a flame. I enjoy this blog and I enjoy vigorous discussion. I mention this because it’s important to me.

    1. I don’t see it as a flame at all. In fact, I also first became familiar with the term as you describe it, not as it’s used in the context of BDSM. I agree, it’s confusing and problematic as the two usages could be confused (but shouldn’t).

      I don’t think of myself as a bottom as much as I do a sub. I suspect my reticence to embrace the term is rooted in how it’s used in the gay context. Not that I wouldn’t be a very happy bottom (I would!) but, as you say, they have different meanings.

    2. Ugh terminology… fraught!

      For what it’s worth in an S&M context, bottoming is generally understood to be ‘receiving sensation’ and submitting is ‘ceding authority’ and while in many cases they are aligned, that’s not always the case.

      For example, a dominant can tell their submissive to fuck their arse, and they would be the ‘bottom’ in that scene, but they can still be the dominant, maintain authority, and run the fuck (that is, they don’t necessarily need to cede authority and ‘be submissive’ in that scenario).

      Ferns

  5. Thanks for sharing your 27% into it review & responses. Like most of us, our experiences vary, and I think the fact that you don’t have specific “sessions” would definitely skew your view compared to the author’s.

    BTW – with the kindle (if the book is setup for it) clicking on the menu will bring up the corresponding page # for the book (which helps to follow along with others who are reading something in print.)

  6. “I needed to hear that. We kinky folk seem to spend so much time thinking about this shit. I know I do. Why? Why do I want this? Why does it make me feel good? Especially the other day. But, I read that and hear, “It’s OK to be a freak and stop thinking about it so much.” ”

    This. All of this. Thank you.

  7. I adored this book when I was new to BDSM. At the time, I was only bottoming/submitting, and although I loved this book, reading its companion “The New Topping Book” really blew my mind and also gave me some insight into things I could do better (read: I was kind of being a jerk *laughs*)

    Count me in as another member of the Thumper Writes A Book brigade. I’m not aware of a whole lot of book-length stuff on FLR or chastity…what’s out there?

  8. > I felt just what the authors said in the quote. Taken care of. Comforted.

    This. Oh, hell yes.

    I don’t get it, but I know that when I’m locked up, and even more so when my husband is giving me orders and dominating me sexually, it makes me feel safe and comforted and loved in a way that nothing else possibly can.

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