Women and Topping — Can We Talk?
(Disclaimer: I do not intend this post to offend anyone, or make them feel defensive. This is simply a subject I’m passionate about, I want to speak my truths about it, and I would like others to as well. I hope you will share yours with me.)
You all know I’m a big fan of Jillian Keenan’s. I subscribe to her Patreon channel and I enjoy her videos. Her most recent two have been about “Spanko Self-Awareness” — the questions we all need to ask ourselves to determine what works for us in TTWD… and what doesn’t. In Part 2, released last weekend, she delves into some deeper questions. One of which is “Do I like a thing because I like it? Or because I like the attention it brings me?”
She does not posit this with any sort of judgment either way; it’s simply a request for self-honesty. The more we know about ourselves in this scene, the better choices we can make, and the more we can be our truest selves.
As this question is explored, she goes into a specific situation: namely, the pressure women in our scene receive to switch/top. She brings up the unfortunate fact of how women, as we age, are often devalued in society (and in the scene too… unless we learn how to top). Topping, for a woman in the spanking scene, may be a way to gain back some of that value. And value = positive attention. Let’s be honest — we all like attention, at least to some degree. (I’m not saying y’all are attention whores like me, but come on, it’s nice to be appreciated, no?)
This is a direct quote from Jillian, and I listened three times and wrote it down to make sure I got it right:
“No one is more popular at a spanking party,
or in more demand as a play partner,
than a woman who is holding a hairbrush.”
I don’t disagree with this at all. I think she’s right. But you know what? It pisses me off! I would happily accept “as popular as,” or “as much in demand as.” But more? Why? It doesn’t seem fair. And it’s especially not fair to those of us who have absolutely no desire to top.
Which brings me to my controversial question, and what might put some people’s noses out of joint. For all the spanko women out there, whether professionals in the industry or not, who transitioned into topping: I would love to know the percentage of those who did so because they genuinely wanted to, because they enjoy topping — and the percentage of those who started topping because they felt pressured to do so. Because they thought their continued acceptance in the scene hinged upon that.
Again, no judgment. Just curious. And yes, I know professionals can’t really answer me here. It would be detrimental for business if a spanking model were to publicly admit here, “Yeah, topping isn’t really my thing, but I had to learn to do it anyway because money.” A female bottom’s shelf life in the film/session industry is limited. A female top, on the other hand, can keep going well into her fifties and sixties. There may be exceptions, but generally, past a particular age, a woman needs to switch, or go behind the camera and produce, in order to remain competitive. The most successful women producers I know of do both.
I am a rebel in this scene. I have staunchly resisted two things that seem almost expected of women: 1. Switching, and 2. Playing with other women. I simply don’t want to, never did, and I never will.
But wait, Erica… what about that one time…? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Anyone who’s been with me over the years knows damn well that I topped a young girl on video once, back in 2004. And yes, I played a mom. It was a very domestic scene, nothing sensual about it, her bent over the kitchen table and me with a wooden spoon. Why did I do it? Because I really, really, really wanted to be in this film — it was Spanking Epics’ premiere film, and I wanted in on it. It was a brief scene. And my reward would be getting to bottom later in the film.
But… I hated doing it. Hated every damn minute of it. I still can’t watch that scene. I sucked at it. And oh, the crap I took for it. “My three-year-old could spank harder than that!” Oh, and my favorites, along these lines: “Oh boy, you’re playing a mom already? It’s all downhill from here!” Screw that. Yeah, I played a frumpy widowed mother in 1912, with unflattering hair and clothes. But I also got to do this:
Yup, that was my old mom butt. Put that in your pipe and shove it. (Yeah, I know that’s not how the expression goes. I don’t care.)
However, aside from that, I somehow managed to carve out eighteen years of bottoming on video, even though I was well past the age most women do it. When I first started out, I took a look at some of the producer sites, and when it came to applying to appear on film as a bottom, I saw the same thing many times: “Women 18-35.” Well, humph. I was definitely past that. Fortunately, Shadow Lane didn’t have this limitation, and they happily cast me as a bottom in my first video (and three more after that). But at the time, that was a rarity. In later years, I think production companies let go of some of this ageism and several others cast me. However…
I am not immune to ageing. My body, face and skin have seen some changes. But I do have a few things going for me. I have a youthful air about me. I’ve shunned the sun for years. I keep myself fit with diet and regular exercise. And I made no secret of the fact that I had a face lift. So, I believe the average viewer, not knowing me personally (and not looking too closely), thinks I’m younger than I really am. And I believe that was, at least in part, one of the primary reasons I lasted as long as I did.
Don’t believe that? True story, and I am removing all identifiers. A few years ago, a production company received a request for a custom shoot, and the client specifically requested me in the bottom role. The producer told their client, “I’ll ask Erica, but I’m not sure if she’s still shooting. If she isn’t, would someone else work? How about [another model]?” The client’s answer?
“No, I don’t want [her]. She’s too old.”
As it happened, there was a fourteen-year span between me and the suggested alternative. And no, I don’t mean she was older. I mean she was fourteen years younger. Ouch.
So yeah, ageism is alive and well in the scene, just like in overall society. But forget about the professional world for now. What about average female bottoms, going to parties, enjoying bottoming to different play partners, but finding that as they get older, their play time somehow seems to dwindle? What to do? Oh, and one more point of irritation. There is an attitude that subtly worms its way through not just the spanking scene, but all types of kink — that being, if you are in a scene for X amount of time, you are somehow expected to branch out, to get into new things, to experiment further, to… I hate this fucking word… evolve. In other words, if you don’t grow in your scene, you’re stagnant and un-evolved? What if you just happen to like one thing, like one thing a lot, and are perfectly content sticking with that and have no desire to do other stuff? Why is that somehow considered “less than”?
I’m digressing. My point is, between the ageism and the pressure to evolve, female bottoms have a challenge being true to their inner desires. That at some point, even if it’s not a desire that comes naturally and organically to them, they feel pressure to top.
So, ladies… who out there would be willing to admit that, while you might enjoy topping on occasion, it’s not really and truly your thing, that your true love is bottoming? Who would confess that they initially tried it not out of desire, but out of feeling pressure? Again, this is not a judgment thing. I’m trying to establish just how prevalent and pervasive the pressure to switch/top is. Also, I’d like to know, if you started out doing it out of pressure, did you grow to like it? Or did you simply accept that it’s now something you do, and you keep doing it because 1. it gives your friends pleasure, and 2. you feel like you’re more in demand/more highly valued in the scene because of it?
And of course, if you top because you love it, because you always wanted to, then more power to you! Enjoy your ageless popularity. Hell, I’ve often said I wished I were more versatile and liked to do more things in our scene. More fun to be had, right? But I’m simply not. I had to make my choices. And I wonder about the choices of others sometimes. Peer pressure — and the pressure to maintain one’s perceived value, even if that’s just in our own head — is powerful AF.