“Can't”… or “Won't?”
Probably the worst insult you could level at me is the pat and petty, “Switches? They're just doms or subs who can't make up their minds.” Can't? Can't? It's more like won't. Why should we, really? We have the best of all worlds: we get to exercise our range of talents, tastes, and perversions without conforming to any one role permanently.
We are, if you must know, the gleeful gluttons at the smorgasbord of sexual mores. That said, if you take the time to look a little deeper, you'll find that simply being a switch isn't all that simple. We're actually a complex bunch. Many of us keenly identify with one slant while embracing a plethora of practices. My friend Paul largely identifies as a dominant, but readily admits he's also a “fanny fetishist, intensely masochistic bottom, sadistic top, and spanking enthusiast.” And “readily admits” is an understatement – he practically drools when he describes his tastes and capacities (especially if you make him account for himself through a gag).
Times are Hard Switching can be matter of economics as well. Now's a tough time to be a bottom – there simply aren't enough free-roaming tops to go around – and that's led to the interesting practice of bottoms doing each other for mutual gratification. “If all else fails, we'll do each other,” one bottom laughingly told me once. And indeed they do. I've seen many bottoms – good friends doing each other a good turn – switch out of necessity. Although such bottoms routinely distance themselves from any top identity, they should give themselves credit where it's due: they're usually quite thorough in understanding their fellow bottom's state of mind and body, their play style is very buddy-buddy, and they're quite competent. As a spectator, I love watching two bottoms at play because I love their rapport and natural understanding of each other.
Some individuals are serial switches, capable of assuming whichever side of the slash that doesn't appeal to their current partner. For them, the relationship is most important and, with solid trust and compatibility, they operate from the most convenient platform with little conflict and much happiness.
I consider myself something of a serial switch, but, like any complex switch, I'd have to put an asterisk (*) after that statement for further clarification.
That's because my own switch-ness is highly definable. Innately, I feel dominant; it comes naturally to me, being of quick wit and mind, and I'm good at it. Early on in my BDSM explorations, though, I found myself attracted to the “good bottoming makes a good top” philosophy. Plus, I knew I liked nipple torture, having spent the better part of my adult life teaching vanilla lovers how to twist my nipples without flinching. (Their flinching, that is.) I added bottoming to my personal agenda, even if it was low on my list of perverse priorities. Eventually I got around to it, and, much to my surprise, I found I had a vast capacity for submission, at least on a very singular basis with my Master. Wise man he is, he carefully and patiently eased me into submission via masochism. (In other words, love me profoundly, beat me mercilessly, and eventually I'll do anything for you.) My capacity for submission caught me completely by surprise because what few fantasies I had about submission were, I thought, little more than masturbation fodder. What a delight to discover I was wrong.
Who's on Top?
Lucky me, my Master is also a cock-and-ball-torture-loving masochist, and I enjoy topping him when he needs a good dose of it. So how does a submissive top her Master? Through good ground rules. If he needs some intensities inflicted on him, I get advance notice so I can plan both my headspace and the scene.
And when we meet, I top him first – I don't have the capacity to top once he's taken me down in any way. Preserving the headspace is everything.
Still, he's done some interesting “instruction” with me on the bottom – heady experiences in making me perform typically toppish maneuvers while in bottomspace. I can still clearly feel the combined sense of marvel and submission I felt when he instructed me in the use of a Foley catheter on him… Oops. Mind's wandering. Forgive me.
I must admit, all this ability didn't just magically appear. It took time and practice for me to embrace my submission and my switching, largely because my self-identity had to evolve and take shape. I had to wiggle through a number of contortions to get where I am now, some of which were interesting and, in retrospect, amusing – like the brief time I considered myself an “owned top,” that is, I was owned but I was predominantly toppish in self-identity. I now see myself as a switch, currently submitting (with dedication). If something should ever happen to my relationship with my Master, I see myself becoming a top/bottom free agent. My submission comes with a nontransferable clause, it seems, but my masochism can't be shelved any more than my sadism.
And perhaps that's the defining point of switch-hood. If you ponder “what if” about the future and realize that you see yourself playing all the angles, if you crave many possibilities, if you're unwilling to settle for less than the whole enchilada, then you're a switch. So, want some nachos with your order?
About the Author
Debra Hyde is a mostly submissive switch who lives in New England with her husband, two children, three cats, and a dog. She says she is “well-owned and well-loved” by a very special Master, and shares a unique triangle with him and her somewhat submissive husband.“
Copyright © 1998, Debra Hyde. All Rights Reserved.
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