Master Tim Coaching

Posts Tagged ‘control’

The Master’s Voice #20: A view from the top Pt.1

Although there are still quite a few new topics waiting in the wings for this blog series, it has always been my intention to interact with my readers and to respond to their needs. Each posting seems to generate a good deal of feedback and many very good questions. Recent postings have led to some great comments and questions about the sexual dynamics of so called ‘tops’ and ‘bottoms’ so now seems to be a good time to address the issue.

First of all comes my usual disclaimer that there are no rules. Every person is different. Every couple has their own dynamic and yet, within that context, there are a lot of assumptions made. There is however a perceived wisdom and a set of generalisations that most people accept as true:

  • Being Dom usually means being ‘top’.
  • Being sub usually means being ‘bottom’.
  • Top and bottom usually refer to a persons role in penetrative sex.
  • In gay male sex the top is usually referred to as ‘active’
  • In gay male sex the bottom is usually referred to as ‘passive’.
  • Switching between roles is often referred to as being ‘versatile’.
  • Versatile players are often referred to as ‘switches’.
  • Some switches measure their versatility in terms of a percentage top or bottom.
  • e.g. 90% Top means mostly top but will “bottom for the right partner”.
  • Completely versatile switches use the term ’50/50′
  • Not all couples like or engage in penetrative sex
  • Terms such as ‘domination’, ‘control’ and ‘power exchange’ are also used in this context.
  • In gay BDSM scenes the Dom/Master is usually top/active.
  • In gay BDSM scenes the sub/slave is usually bottom/submissive.
  • In heterosexual BDSM scenes, Male doms are almost always top/active.
  • In heterosexual BDSM scenes, Female doms (dominatrixes) are often bottoms sexually.
  • In heterosexual BDSM scenes, Female doms will often use sex toys including strap-on dildos to allow them to take on the top/active role in penetrative sex.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but there should now be enough options for your fertile minds to start filling in any gaps. Just make sure that you also factor in other gender options such as lesbian and transexual or non-binary couplings and also group dynamics such as bi-sexual threesomes (m/m/m, f/f/f, m/m/f or f/f/m). Nor should you forget that BDSM can be an asexual activity too. Possibly the newest classification to cross my radar is MSM/NGI. Any ideas? Well it’s one which I will personally confirm as very much on the increase – Men having Sex with Men/Not Gay Identified.

For those of you who are BDSM practitioners, much of this list will have little relevance where it strays beyond your own needs, experience or curiosity. For my writing colleagues however, I’ve just delivered a whole menu of potential new fictional interactions with endless possibilities for fun and/or drama.

For some people these choices and options can be difficult to comprehend. As an example, let me quote from one dear reader who wrote a well thought out response to a recent blog post:

I guess I am slightly confused because whether you read fact or fiction about the BDSM lifestyle you are “taught” that submissives/slaves are to be respected because they are so strong and giving and trusting etc. Point being they are the strong ones but if that is so isn’t it like Master Tim said, throwing stones while in a glass house, to saying that Dominant men don’t bottom because it is considered weak/less male/not done because men in control don’t get a dick shoved up their butt?

Actually I thought this particular reader was less confused than they claimed to be. It is true that subs are strong. It is also true that most male doms refuse to bottom because they think it somehow weaker or less masculine.

A good friend of mine was once being teased by his straight workmates along the lines that he was less of a man they were because he admitted to being a bottom. They all got very uncomfortable however, when he suggested that very few of them would be strong enough or man enough to “take one up the bum” without running to their mothers in tears.

There are cultural differences involved here too. In the UK for example, it is my experience that British men are much more polarised about their sexual preferences. Others, such as Americans, tend to be far more flexible and versatile without challenging their masculinity. For those of you who are writing about these things, it often leads to transatlantic confusion. One big difference for example is that European doms see the activity known as ‘rimming’ (look it up) as being something being done by the sub or bottom as a sign of submission to the dom. Many American tops however see rimming as something that they do to the bottom prior to penetrating him.

Many subs prefer to engage only with doms who are 100% top. For them it is essential to be able to think of their dom as an exclusively dominant, top, active, sexual partner.

Attitude, self confidence and even arrogance all have a part to play in these choices. Before I leave you, lets look at one more set of options.

Some guys do change sides for various reasons and tops may become bottoms or vice versa as a life choice. This also leads to the thorny question of experience. We often see or hear it said that the best doms or tops, have at least spent some time experiencing the role of a sub or a bottom. This is where many doms get very flustered and defensive claiming that it is not true. This premise appears damaging to their status and should be denied at all costs. It is true that many great doms have never experienced life as a sub or bottom. Of those who have at some point broaden their experience however, I have yet to meet one who denies that it made them a better dom.

Next time : Today has been all about sweeping generalisations and it would be foolish of me to put them out there as pure opinion. In Part 2, I will explore some of the studies which have been done around ideas of power exchange and the roles of dominance and submission.

The Master’s Voice 01 – Sub or Slave: Is There a Difference?

THE MASTER’S VOICE – Part One.

Of all the many questions I get asked on a regular basis, the most frequently presented one is some variation of  ‘Am I a Sub or a Slave?’ Or ‘What’s the difference between a Sub and a Slave?’ It’s a subject about which everyone has an opinion, and the debate has been around for as long as there have been people to discuss it.

For most people, the terms are interchangeable and the boundaries are woolly. For some the definitions are more rigid, or at least very personal and individual. I would maintain that there are no wholly right or wrong answers, but that does not mean that we don’t need some clarity of thought or some acceptable descriptors. These at least give us a baseline from which to form opinions and arrive at acceptable definitions which work for each individual person or couple.

Submission is not a weakness

For me, the basic definitions start with the words themselves. Slave is a noun and so a slave is what you are. Submissive is an adjective and so it describes what you do.

In BDSM relationships, submissives make their own decisions and choices, holding on to their own rights and freedoms. Submissives also set their own limits. A sub may choose to be ‘owned’ but the terms of the ownership will be jointly negotiated and it will only last as long as they choose to allow it. Submissives characteristically seek out casual contacts or relationships, moving in and out of their role freely as they go about their lives.

A true slave is a very different person completely. While a submissive may choose how, when and to whom they submit, a true slave will submit completely at all times to their chosen owner, with little or no negotiation. Slaves usually seek ownership, preferring to give themselves wholly to another dominant person. The slave has no rights or freedoms and certainly no choices. Of course in reality this only works where great wisdom, common sense and profound trust exist.

I can hear a whole chorus of ‘buts’ as I write this and I respect them all. Every slave or sub is different and every situation is unique and individual. At the end of the day, our roles are defined by our relationships and seldom the other way around. The sub/Dom roles derive from the type of relationships we enter into, after safety and personal limits are agreed.

We must accept that any definition is merely another form of labelling imposed by the wider society. Labels are a way of compartmentalising things which we might otherwise struggle to understand. Once you are labelled, you are ‘understood’, but of course real life is seldom so easily pigeon-holed. Every couple needs to arrive at their own working definition for what they have.

It should be clearly understood that the definition is a work in progress and will change over time. Every aspect of a relationship needs to be placed on a grey-scale where the two extremes are ‘black’ and ‘white’ but all our life choices rest somewhere along the line between the two. Anyone who thinks that there are only ‘fifty shades of grey’ (pun intended) is in for a big surprise!

A submissive may choose to submit sexually, but outside the bedroom (or dungeon) they will may still behave as equals with their Master or Mistress. The sub may choose to be a domestic servant but still maintain equality in their relationship. The mutually agreed level of control may be quite extensive and in effect be the same as slavery but of course the sub retains the ability to walk away or simply to say ‘no’ at any time.

A real slave, in contrast, wishes every aspect of their life to be controlled by the Master or Mistress. The slave will often describe themselves as “incomplete” without ownership and they will seek out a powerful dominant to control them. Of course in reality they will seek out their owner and so will be making choices regarding who that person is. At the end of the day they can still choose to end the relationship at any time.

Another point to consider is that not all slaves are submissives!

There is no doubt that I shall be returning to this topic in the future. One area that I would like to look at is the link between BDSM and sexuality. As a gay man I have met a great many heterosexual men who submit to other men. This does not in my opinion, make them gay!

Consider the various definitions, but do not be limited by them. Find what works for you and go with it. BE a slave, or DO submission, but have fun!

In the next part I will be asking my much loved Alpha slave of the last ten years to share with us the ‘sub’ side of this story.

Master Tim is a practicing Dominant with over 40 years of experience and is an alter ego of published m/m author T.J. Masters