What Does It Mean to Be a “Top” or a “Dominant” in Lesbian Intercourse? | Autostraddle

Hello and introducing part a couple of all of our show on what the hell we suggest whenever we say “leading,” “bottom” or “switch”!
A week ago we spoken of soles and slaves
, and this few days we are making reference to covers and dominants. Let us enter into it.

The Best, Bottoms and Switches Sex Survey

Three weeks hence,
I provided a study about these slippery words
, as well as 3.6k people arrived to talk about their particular covers and bottoms beside me. These represent the class of respondents:

Demographics of Intercourse study Respondents // era: Under 18 (1.2%), 18-24 (25%), 25-34 (56per cent), 35-44 (14per cent), 44+ (4.5per cent) // Intimate Orientation: Lesbian (43.4%), Queer (30%), Bi or Pansexual (19%), Gay (6.2percent), Various other (1%) // Gender character: Cis lady (71.2%), Trans woman (3.4percent), Non-Binary or Genderqueer girl (9.5per cent), Non-Binary or Genderqueer Person (7.6percent), Additional (8.2percent) // Relationship Status: Single or Dating, without having Sex Frequently (30.6%), Solitary or Dating, Making Love Regularly (8.7percent), In a Monogamous Union (32.6percent), In a Non-Monogamous union (9.3per cent), wedded & Monogamous (15.5per cent), Wedded & Non-Monogamous (3.2percent)

I’m going to be going through the information gradually over the course of the thirty days — next week we will talk about changes and people who do not use these terms and conditions anyway. We will also talk about sub-identities (bratty bottom, power bottom, solution leading, etc.) and we also’ll look at the data as a whole and exactly how it intersects with various identities and class. Every week’s information will develop on the other day’s and will also be very fulfilling for nerds and followers of gender.

What Number Of Tops Are Online?

Despite most of the chat of tops and soles in the queer neighborhood, our very own review revealed that those who identify especially as surfaces or bottoms can be found in the minority overall. Also, you will find


much more soles online than surfaces.

Best: 12percent // soles: 14.3% // changes: 51.6% // not one regarding the preceding: 13.4percent // I’m Not Sure: 8.9%

What Exactly Is Topping?

Before queer ladies’ society implemented top/bottom as terminology strongly related non-kinky gender, the terms were mostly employed by homosexual males, or even in kink or SADOMASOCHISM contexts by both straight and LGBTQ+ men and women. For the present time, several things are unmistakeable from your surveys: “top” now is easier to determine than “bottom,” there is even more opinion on popular acts among covers versus bottoms, so there appears to be a clear-cut difference between “leading” and “dominant” than between “bottom” and “submissive.”

What Do Best Always Perform During Sex?

We requested survey-takers to point their own desire for giving and obtaining several sexual acts, also asked these to determine what “top” means to them. We’ve provided


of the very most popular tasks below. (keep in mind that scissoring/dry-humping had not been incorporated regarding the survey as it doesn’t have clear giving/receiving dynamics.)

WHAT BEST WANT TO DO BETWEEN THE SHEETS –  Vaginal Penetration: Getting (32%), Giving (95percent) // Oral Intercourse (Genital): Getting (56percent), Providing (90per cent) // Strap-On Penetration (Vaginal): Obtaining (20per cent), Providing (72per cent) // Vaginal Fisting: Getting (8.5percent), Offering (29per cent) // Fingering (Exterior Genital Touch): Providing (97per cent), Getting (60per cent) // Nipple Gamble: Receiving (49per cent), Giving (86percent) // Anal: Obtaining (12.4per cent), Providing (29percent)

The data above reveals which tasks encouraged clothes to declare “this can be certainly the best what to give/receive” or “i love to give/receive this.” They may additionally express basic emotions about a given work, state they failed to will take action, say they would never ever completed it or pick “N/A.” But “we give this and do not like it” was picked very seldom — precisely zero tops clearly

you should not

like providing vaginal entrance, including, therefore the only gender functions that stirred a lot more than five tops to pick “we provide this and do not want it” had been anal dental intercourse (six respondents dislike it) and anal penetration (seven respondents dislike it).

There seemed to be a higher opinion among tops versus bottoms with regards to recommended functions. Eg, 95per cent of clothes always permeate vaginally; 80percent of bottoms choose to obtain stated penetration. Naturally, it is really worth keeping in mind not everybody exactly who got this study


vaginas to penetrate, but removing the class least expected to have a snatch (trans females) from your base data did not generate a statistically relevant impact on that percentage. The actual descriptions of “giving” and “receiving” lend by themselves to better leading consensus for, whilst was actually written Pat Califia’s 1988 lesbian gender manual

Sapphistry: The Publication of Lesbian Sex

: “[the leading’s] energy is often restricted to the requirements and features regarding the base.” Equally, discover far more bottoms enthusiastic about finger-fucking (68.6percent) than you can find surfaces who would like to get finger-fucked (32percent).

Very, “Topping” Can Mean…

Being in Charge of experience

The absolute most steady descriptor from inside the open-form solution information was regarding the most effective getting “in control” or “in fee” regarding the sexual encounter, or otherwise “leading the way in which” or becoming the “more energetic” or “dominant” spouse. “You primarily enact, direct, or carry out those activities,” said one butch top. “a person who may be the group master for activity,” penned one bisexual top, including: “somebody who usually initiates or lovingly takes control. A person that is actually dealing with the responsibility of offering another party or events a very good time.”

“Emotional management labor trumps actual motion here,” composed a queer femme dominatrix with regards to the woman definition of “top.” “frequently a leading will be the one fucking, etc. but a premier are licked or banged or whatever if they’re managing the scene.”

Preferring become The Penetrator and/or Giver

In gay men’s room intimate society, passes penetrate and soles tend to be penetrated, which emerged loads in respondents’ meanings, too. One tomboy femme lesbian leading described surfaces as “the partner on the giving end of sex, whether that be dental, penetrative, electronically penetrative, etc.” While the above data shows, surfaces happened to be significantly more thinking about receiving additional pleasure (oral or digital) than penetration, although many surfaces enjoyed penetration too.

“The top will be the a lot more ‘active’ companion between the sheets, the one that wears the strap on and loves to perform ‘the fucking’ even if the base is saying exactly what she desires accomplished,” mentioned one lesbian femme leading.

“The giver,” which
can the concept of a good publication and a poor flick
, had been another commonly applied phrase. Best happened to be generally called “being on the giving conclusion of gender.” Which brings me to…

Serving Although Not (or Rarely) (or Secondarily) Obtaining

Even though only word that means “does n’t need their genitals moved” is “material,” various survey-takers appeared to assign a level of “rock” to topping. One comfortable butch gay girl defined “top” as  “some one that strictly ‘gives’ and will not check out be moved at all,” but the majority explanations focused not on offering


but alternatively on




giving. “she’ll give and obtain,” had written one queer tomboy, “but is ok simply


Moving Away From On Obtaining Somebody Else Off

The “giving” powerful is not just about preferring to execute specific intimate functions, it is more about deriving pleasure from this. “best would like to offer sexual satisfaction more often than they receive it,” blogged one gender-fluid Stud/AG. A tomboy femme leading explained topping as “a person that becomes satisfaction from giving everything receiving, or even more.”

A leading “gets very near equivalent quantities of enjoyment of acquiring someone off as by themselves getting off,” blogged one soft butch very top. Another gentle butch lesbian leading explained this lady topping as “preferring to touch instead be handled for pure intimate and mental excitement and satisfaction.” But another comfortable butch lesbian leading wrote, “While I say i will be a high, What i’m saying is i will be an individual who mainly encounters sexual satisfaction by holding my lover instead having my spouse reach me.”

The lesbian femme top we cited in an earlier section penned that intercourse is not about coming on her — “if i wish to get-off, I’d rather masturbate.” Although intercourse
isn’t really about coming for a number of men and women
, no matter top/bottom identity, for folks who desire orgasming to be element of intercourse, “underneath will come initially” might be an integral part of the powerful. Along those outlines, a bisexual sluggish femme/soft butch leading defined her situation once the “person whom likes to become more principal and it is concentrated on offering pleasure and fired up by that (usually uses their partner).”

Kinky Best and Dominants

25per cent of clothes determine as perverted (when compared with 40per cent of soles and 27per cent of switches) and 53.5percent stated they don’t determine as raunchy but sometimes delight in perverted sex (versus 46% of bottoms and 27percent of changes). In the arena of kink, “topping” has actually different connotations than it will for vanilla extract sex. Relating to

New Topping Book

, in fact it is concentrated on SADOMASOCHISM play especially, “leading is an umbrella term that includes those who like to play regarding giving end of sensation and discomfort, bondage, control and control and all another activities that define the market of BDSM.” In a kink context, “dominant” is among numerous conditions enveloped by that one umbrella.

What Exactly Do Kinky Best Like?

When compared to the above mentioned data, 6% of non-kinky tops like inflicting pain and 3.8% like utilizing another person for delight without any regard for theirs. But a complete 86per cent of non-kinky covers additionally like being in control of the sexual knowledge, and that’s a really small disparity (4percent!) compared to the disparity amongst perverted and non-kinky bottoms — 91percent of raunchy bottoms like not in control, in comparison to 62percent of non-kinky bottoms. The vulnerability inherent in “not in control” appears to be, subsequently, is significantly less favored overall than the reverse, as well as perhaps less intrinsic to vanilla extract “bottoming” than staying in control will be vanilla “topping.”

In the context of kink, just what distinguishes the concept of “leading” from “dominant”? In assessment with the previous NSFW editor
, we decided to separate “covers” and “dominants” on our review. Just kink-identified survey-takers had been put through an added study web page with questions regarding dominants/submissives and sub-identities therein, and today we’re gonna talk about those outcomes.

Exactly How Many Dominants Tend To Be On The Market?

On the 435 self-identified tops on all of our study, merely 115 identify as kinky, and simply 87% of these (92 folks complete) as dominants. At the same time, in our 525 soles, 190 identify as perverted, and 172 as subs — for example subs outnumber doms 2:1. 3.4per cent of kinky surfaces determine as slaves, 8per cent as switches and 2.24% as “none regarding the preceding” or “unclear.”

DOMS / SUBS / SWITCHING: 16.2per cent Dominant, 35% Submissive, 41per cent changes, 4.9per cent nothing for the above, 2.9percent I don’t know

Thus, could be the alleged Dom lack actual? Per Carolyn: “On one side, speaking about a ‘Dom scarcity’ means a sort of commodification of Doms that transforms topics into objects; contributes to objectification; and belies the truth that among folks of any sex it’s difficult to get a hold of somebody who is a talented and respectful counterpart to whatever sex or play you’re trying to have, who is proficient at interacting, whoever commitment direction matches with yours, and the person you also find hot intellectually and mentally and sexually both in quick and deeper ways. And on one other hand, completely.”

Since we’re right here in any event, personally i think stirred by a greater queer power to in addition keep in mind that ideas like “dom lack” and “leading scarcity” (which are generally exhaled in the same breath as issues over a so-called “butch scarcity,”) generate a paradigm of scarcity that may effortlessly affect those pursuing covers or doms to feel a certain degree of desperation or ambient social anxiousness that leads a person to hang onto their unique top for dear life, against all probabilities, even when the odds tend to be enormous.

The Fresh Topping Book

says this clearly to the top audience: “if you’re a heterosexual feminine, a lesbian, or a homosexual man… you as a high are located in some thing of a buyer’s industry.” If you are a vendor slash base, I motivate you to definitely think vitally about these a few ideas, be since picky as you damn well please while within marketplace, rather than underestimate a suitable switch.

How come There a “Shortage” of Kinky best and/or Doms?

Here’s three theories:

1. Gender Stuff

Research of SADOMASOCHISM practitioners
has shown females have a tendency towards submitting and men towards dominance
and therefore
ladies are prone to be turned on by masochistic thoughts than men
, who are a lot more aroused by sadism. You had count on those numbers to move at the least notably for queer females, and indeed they actually do — the aforementioned learn unveiled 8percent of kinky females were dominants, as well as on ours, 16per cent of kinky cis, trans and genderqueer-identified females enjoy domming. However, despite double the amount scientists found amongst (presumably?) direct women, the figures continue to be skewed. The tendency towards subbing and from domming was also reflected inside our gender dysfunction: 84.3per cent in our review’s subs identify as females (cis, trans, or genderqueer), compared to 74per cent of doms, and non-binary men and women and agender folks had been prone to end up being doms than subs. But! Gay males
seem to feel they’ve got a high lack and
, thus perhaps absolutely nothing suggests any such thing?

2. Learning Curve

Becoming a submissive undoubtedly requires significant amounts of work, including mental planning, building depend on, understanding your own limits, familiarizing your self and screening your own interest in numerous sexual solutions, checking out the human body and a building efficient ways of interaction. Being a dominant, having said that, requires a lot of


skill-building — from
how-to safely create pain
towards literal familiarity with knots for
rope bondage
. It could be a lot more intimidating to just declare oneself a dom, no matter what knowledge amount, and do it as compared to reverse. Cee, a non-binary dom I talked to while writing this article, recalled realizing rather very early into feeling dommy it wasn’t one thing they might just


they had a great deal to figure out how to ensure they don’t literally damage their partner. On the survey, doms were normally older and reported having a lot more lifetime intimate partners than subs.

3. Expenditure

“The notion you’ll want to own
a certain group of items becoming perverted
is very much indeed current,” says Carolyn. “and therefore stuff is expensive.”

The Essential Difference Between Best And Dominants

1st, some language: “dom” is actually, because you can have suspected, quick for “dominant.” “Domme” is actually a word for female doms specifically, but most on the ladies on our very own review utilized “dom” no matter. “Dominatrix” can a woman-focused word, normally utilized nowadays to refer to an expert principal (or “pro-domme”) who will SADO MASO stuff with subs for cash.

Now, certain motifs arose in your answers about dom vs. leading: dominant is kink-exclusive; topping is focused on actual actions whereas domming concerns a mental/psychological vibrant; domming entails power play; and topping is actually a motion but domming is an identity.

“As a domme, we expect some protocol, decorum and factor,” penned a bisexual femme dominating. “As a top, I be prepared to get on very top in a sexual situation.”

A queer agender ace dominating believed the real difference involved a desire to have control: “i think, a dominating is more concentrated on an unequal power vibrant. A high can hit someone and take pleasure in their particular number of responses without necessarily getting power over the entire scenario. ‘Top’ can also just suggest ‘someone just who would rather penetrate’ without kink in the picture whatsoever, but ‘dominant’ in my experience means control.”

There is a significantly less apparent bodily giving/receiving powerful. “often dominant/top and submissive/bottom don’t line up,” published a bisexual woman whom in addition recognizes as a sadist. “For example, you could find a person who loves control and feeling like they usually have power over their unique companion, but loves becoming spanked, and might identify as a dominant bottom or energy bottom.” The potential for a dom being a bottom came up in more than a few responses.

Just what a sub is actually willing to carry out or enthusiastic about carrying out is discussed first, but as soon as a world or intimate experience begins, the dom looks after what will happen within those borders.  “A dominant individual relishes in using control not merely of this sexual encounter, but associated with body/behvior of some other person,” typed a stone transmasculine agender individual. “for them, it’s the power to decide whom feels just what whenever (including, i may made a decision to trigger a sub discomfort because I would like to, maybe not because they are inquiring us to) that gives delight.”

“a prominent is far more plainly involved in a power trade, while a leading could just be the greater effective spouse,” said one non-binary dom on the review. “Dominating, personally, is oftentimes about offering as opposed to taking — providing sensations and experiences your other individual desires, while possibly seeming to possess control over the world or situation. Doms might actively generate all kinds of different kinky experiences with their base. Issues that both associates desire, that dom is more often directing or giving.”

Ultimately: On Gender Presentation and Topping

Back in the day, “butch” and “leading” were regarded as inexorably linked, which relationship stays typical now, but it’s hardly worldwide or total. “Switch” was actually, as suggested in this article’s basic information, the most famous identification amongst our very own survey-takers, which continues to be genuine as soon as the information is segmented by gender presentation. Lots of survey-takers mentioned enjoying a butch/femme = top/bottom powerful in their sexual resides, but others indicated aggravation about assumptions. “Often men and women presume Im a lot more of a leading,” typed one self-identified functional queer tomboy. “i’ve never had gender with someone that don’t create an assumption that I would end up being principal before they would. Tbh i believe it is because i am hella


. I also do not get some interest from other masc individuals. :-/”

“past femme lovers have actually expected us to become more of a top considering becoming masculine-of-center, that’s not what i favor,” penned one bottom-leaning change.

“I’m a bisexual large

femme,” wrote one survey-taker,

“and that I think this frequently results in myself getting automatically regarded as a bottom, though I’m happiest getting a switch in most cases.”

“i do believe at first I anticipated


associates becoming tops,” published one lesbian switch. “But with which hasn’t actually shown genuine and ~shock!~ I love becoming a premier sometimes despite IDing as typically femme!”

Some femmes spoken of enjoying the subversion of gendered expectations within topping. “I FIRMLY determine as a Femme leading,” penned one, “and bring lots of components of that gender subversion into my personal dominance.” Another published, “i believe my femme presentation enables a lot of power and sex play inside my role as a domme.”

Just how masculine/feminine efforts and presentations actually perform call at bed and appeal — like the impact of dysphoria on intercourse — is actually {a larger|a bigger|a more substan