"I’d rather fight than switch"
I am so dating myself with that title. Anyone remember those Tareyton cigarette ads/commercials from the 1960s? The premise was that Tareyton smokers would rather get in a fight than switch to another brand, and each ad was accompanied by a man or woman with an extremely fake black eye.
For those who never saw these ads, here’s a slice of the past:
And by the way, Madison Avenue — that should have been “We,” not “Us.” @#$%&*!!!!!
But I digress. This is going to be a blog about the always controversial topic of switching. A couple of notes before I start:
1. I’m opening it up for healthy, respectful debate. This is NOT going to devolve into an attack-fest. People can agree to disagree civilly.
2. There are no rights or wrongs in this discussion, only opinions. My opinions are just that — opinions. I don’t state them as facts.
3. The two comments I’m going to cite came from people I like. A lot. So this is not about pointing fingers and saying, “Look what that idiot said.” It is about a difference of opinion. Period.
In recent weeks, through my various readings, I encountered a couple of statements. The first one was about bottoms, and suggested that in order to be the best bottom one could be, one should try topping a few times. And the second one was about male tops, stating that a man who tops, but won’t try bottoming, is a… well, a kitty-cat. (OK, I don’t like the word. Figure it out.)
AGAIN — I like both these people, very much. It’s just those sentiments that got my brain percolating and I knew I was going to have to blog about it.
One of the never-ending debates in the world of spankdom is about switches — do they make better tops/bottoms, or don’t they? If a bottom has never topped, or a top has never bottomed, how can they possibly know what they’re doing and what it feels like? Should (and I hate “shoulds”) a spanko experience both sides, at some point? Or is that a myth?
In this (admittedly pure bottom) woman’s opinion, what makes a good top (or bottom) has a lot less to do with what they’ve experienced, and a lot more to do with (here it is again) common sense, sensitivity, and empathy. A good top reads the bottom, and while he doesn’t feel her pain, he knows it’s there and is vigilant. A good bottom appreciates the top and, despite teasing/bratting, respects him and gifts him with her trust.
(Yes, I know the above was M/F oriented. Sorry… it’s just easier than all the him/her, his/her stuff.)
Here’s my deal. Some bottoms are switch-averse; I am not one of them. I mean, come on. The two men dearest and closest to me are switches. I have had countless wonderful scenes with switches. However, I’ve also had countless wonderful scenes with pure tops (Keith Jones, Steve Fuller, Danny Chrighton, to name a few). AND… I’ve had wretched, godawful scenes with both switches and pure tops.
Bottom line? It seems to me that good men/women tend to make the effort to be good at whatever they do, scenewise. And assholes often remain assholes, despite whether or not they’ve experienced both sides. Clueless people remain clueless.
Case in point: Most of you know about the uber-traumatic scene I had several years ago with a friend’s boyfriend. His way of giving me a half-assed apology was to say, “Well, when I bottom, I like having that done to me.” I wanted to scream, “I’m not YOU, stupid!!” Actually, I did say “I’m not you,” but I said it quietly and left off the “stupid.” But come on. That’s cookie-cutter thinking. This guy could be beaten until he takes his last breath, and he still wouldn’t learn a thing about how to be a good top.
On Twitter recently, a friend tweeted that saying a top has to experience bottoming (and vice versa) is like saying a surgeon needs to undergo several surgeries himself before he can be a really good one. I like that. Granted, like most analogies, it can be picked apart. But at face value, it works for me.
If a man or woman wants to try switching, more power to them! I’m all for that. But the key word is WANT. It should be their choice, their urge, their curiosity. It shouldn’t be because someone told them they should. That switching is the Only True Way to be a good bottom or top.
My biggest issue? Newbies. I’m an oldie (in more ways than one!). If someone were to say to me, “You know, you could be a better bottom if you tried topping a few times,” I would simply smile and say, “No, I couldn’t.” (Or, depending on who said it, I could say, “You know, you could try minding your own @#$%ing business.”) Because I’ve been around long enough to know what works for me and what doesn’t, and I have the courage of my own convictions, based on my experiences. I can’t top. Can. Not. But I think I’m a damn good bottom, regardless.
But what if I were new? I think back to my early, nervous days, when I was a brand-new clean sponge, ready to absorb, with so very much to learn, and so many trepidations about how to get this right. The thought of bottoming was scary enough. If someone I considered a mentor had said to me, “Eventually, you’ll need to consider topping, at least a few times, just to see the other side,” I would have run screaming into the night and never looked back.
So here’s my plea, people. Many of you are revered in this scene of ours. Your words carry importance; newbies look up to you. Please please PLEASE… state your opinions (about switching, or any other important issues) as your opinions only, not as gospel. I know, I know… it should go without saying that it’s your opinion, not fact, and people ought to presume that. But new, impressionable people believe what they hear. They are like newborns, soaking up what’s told to them. They get all sorts of ideas of what’s wrong and what’s right, before they have a chance to develop their own individual footprint in the scene.
One of the many paradoxes in kink is that we are, both at once, all the same and yet all different. We are drawn by the same basic need, but the similarity ends there. The variations branch out from the core seed and what is perfect for one is horrifying for another. Switching, like everything else, is a choice. I really don’t believe it’s a necessity, nor should it be touted as such.