Sunday, July 19, 2009

Top vs. Dom

When my wife and I first entered the lifestyle I was reading everything I could on sadism, masochism, BDSM and every other kink & fetish (see a brief list at the end of this entry), along with gaining a greater insight into the psychology of it all. It was enough to try to figure out me let alone everyone else in the scene. I knew what felt right to me and I knew what didn't. In talking to a friend (a mentor of sorts, but I hesitate to use that word because it has different meanings to different people in the lifestyle) at the Lair de Sade in North Hollywood (a great place, non-threatening, regardless of what Erica Scott says) where we public play, he said, "...a Dom is a person and Top is what they do."

But I saw it a different way then and I see it a different way now.

To me they are both a kind of person and in my humble opinion, there is a vast difference between those two categories of people. In the world of Doms, there are subs and slaves beneath them. Theirs is a world of protocols, of discipline that goes beyond a scene and into a home. Subs wears collars, sit on pillows at their master's feet and other unique activities that are particular to that world. (I chose the most obvious and likely superficial of elements to make my point, but anyone in that lifestyle know there is so much more to it. If I do the D/s world a disservice here, I don't mean to.)

In the world of a Top, the protocols of D/s aren't there per-se. Collars and slaves likely aren't involved in the same way as they do with Dominants/submissives, if at all. A Top is a dominant in that the Top is the sadist in charge of delivering pain and corporeal punishment and whatever else and there it pretty much ends. Little, if any, of the protocols found in D/s relationships or scenes are observed. The Top is dominant in the scene, but after that scene is over, the Top and bottom likely won't observe those protocols.

I can't speak for any other Top but myself, but I believe other differences are there, too. For me, the demeaning of the bottom found frequently in D/s protocol doesn't work for me. That's a distinction I make in my mind when I call myself a Top and not a Dom. The ownership, slavery and contract aspects are also not a part of my definition of a Top's world.

Remember from a previous blog my world is not just about "Safe, Sane and Consensual" (and I always flash to my childhood with that and to the fireworks they sold in California for the Fourth of July--Red Devil Fireworks were "safe and sane" they claimed). It's also about Respect, Trust, Honesty, Compassion and Communication. (Doesn't work with fireworks.) I know that exists in D/s relationships, but to me some of those don't necessarily work in D/s. But that's just me.

It's funny. In the spanking world (what I've experienced of it thusfar) the choices when filling out your membership or party application are: Top, Bottom or Switch. Simple. Clear. In the BDSM world, it's not that simple.

Books to look into:

Sensuous Magic

These were my primers. Of course, there have been others and websites galore, but those two were a good start.


  1. Craig - Thanks for the explanation. That was very clear and straightforward. It has given me some food for thought. I think that makes Ron and me Top and Bottom (in that order :-).


  2. Just my two cents. Glad to oblige.


  3. I like the connotation of the word Top so much better than Dom, especially given these definitions (which are almost exactly the way I have always understood them.) I always use the term bottom instead of sub when referring to myself, or if I use the sub label for some reason, I then feel an obligation to clarify by explaining that I am not particularly submissive in nature and not to just anyone who calls himself a Dom.

  4. Of course, there will be those who say it's just semantics, and that's their prerogative. But I agree with you on this; I don't call any man my dom. I call him my top. (Notice how I refuse to capitalize it? To me, that's part of D/s protocol.) I mean, if a man topping me were a dom, that would make me a sub, right? Puh-leeeze! Would you call me a sub? (laughing)

    Oh, hummph. OK, I shouldn't bash the Lair. There are two things I like about it -- the couple we play with, and their snacks. :-Þ But non-threatening? With flesh being rendered bloody with needles in one room, genitalia torture going on in another, and naked old guys being raped with dildos in yet another? These are not things that spankos find conducive for comfortable play. IMHO, of course, darling.

  5. Jada:

    Understood and think you're smart for clarifying. There's a lot of grey in this lifestyle of ours, best to be as specific as possible to avoid nasty surprises based on what could be a simple nomenclature misunderstanding.


  6. Erica:

    I would never, ever call you a sub (and you know it!).

    Well, when you throw out THOSE kinds of examples, the Lair seems rather daunting to me, too. But, under controlled conditions, led by someone with an understanding of the place and those within it, it can be a good place to play. As they say there, if you see something you don't like or agree with, just go somewhere else. Darling.


  7. Craig,
    Luckily for you, I read Erica's blog so got news of your new blog-otherwise, you would be in trouble, MISTER! I like the deliniation and am still startled that SL used Dom/Sub on their tags...By the way, tell your lovely wife my new name...
    Gen. Sassiness aka -d-

  8. Sass? General Sass? General Sassiness?

    I'm confused, young lady! Better send me an email and fess up! Glad you found my new blog. Please get out the word and share.



  9. I hate the terms dom & sub as well, but I don't like labels, period, so top & bottom aren't a whole lot better for me. If labels are needed, husband & wife are enough.

    If anyone called me sir I'd laugh and if they tried master I'd throw up.

    Same thing with the small letters for "subs" or "slaves." When "subs" comment on my blog and spell their names with small letters I always answer them by capitalizing their name. I do the same when I link to them.

    I'm probably being ridiculous but I just do not like it.

    I do disagree with one thing you wrote:

    "A Top is a dominant in that the Top is the sadist in charge of delivering pain ..."

    That might be true of many or most, actually, but I'm a "top" in our relationship and there isn't a sadistic bone in my body.

    I get no kick whatsoever from delivering pain and, in fact, wanted no part of it when my wife wanted me to do just that. It took until I understood and firmly believed I was, in fact, delivering pleasure before I wanted any part of it. That is its appeal to me.

    I realize that it takes pain to achieve the pleasure, but a sadist is defined by what turns them on, and that happens to be pain. A sadist will enjoy inflicting pain with or without any pleasure felt by the receiver of the pain. I would want no part of that.

    I know there are many others who feel the same way. Just read any of the blogs where women talk about how hard it was to convince their husbands to even try spanking and/or discipline and you'll find a non-sadistic "top."

    Just a minor point and I'm sure you didn't mean to lump all tops together as sadists. That just happens to be one label I am hypersensitive about when there is even the slightest chance it might get pinned on me, lol.

    Great post.


  10. Dante:

    Thanks for the thoughtful post and thanks for visiting my blog, first of all.

    Erica called me on my use of Top/bottom. She's right. I'm going to stop that now. I don't believe personally in the protocol, so why associate it to my own use of the capitalization. So, from now on, I stop.

    As for the "Sir," I concur. At the Lair, women there will call me "Sir." If it's in passing, I ignore it, but if it becomes a recurring thing, I say very clearly, "I'm no 'Sir'. Call me Craig."

    As for you, it sounds like you're a devoted husband that's understanding enough to give your wife what she needs, and you're not a sadist. So, in that case, I would agree with you. I wouldn't call you a Top. I'd just call you compassionate and caring.