Content Note: as per trigger warning mentioned in opening paragraph
The University of Abject Submission blog has a guest post by Dr. Slut called Top Trust (which comes with a trigger warning by Yingtai for “Rape role-play, pushing boundaries, hardcore knives”; this warning should also be assumed to apply to this post, which quotes some of those passages). The post describes something that I have often reflected upon with respect to my own Dominant identity and experience, and the complications that I have felt surrounding it.
Dr. Slut sums it up neatly in a single phrase:
But something we don’t hear nearly as much about is the trust tops place in bottoms. What do tops trust their bottoms to do? It’s pretty simple: communicate with them honestly and forgive them if they (the tops) the fuck up.
In short, I’m in total agreement with everything – at least, the bits that I have lived experience to relate to in the post.
I was very pleased when my ex told me that I had handled her so well by not giving in to her desire to go flat-out from the word go but pace her introduction to real-life BDSM play. It was tempting to just say, “She says yes, so it must be okay – Risk-Aware Consensual Kink, right?” But of course, in that state of mind, as with the type of subspace Dr. Slut describes, the sub may not be risk-aware, may be completely willing to throw all such caution to the four winds:
That crazy fucker will literally beg and plead in subspace for things that will injure him, and it’s all up to me as the top to tell him “no.”
(That exact thing didn’t happen, she just wanted it all at once when I was still figuring out what her responses were really like and what I could safely do)
One passage in Dr. Slut’s post intrigues me particularly. I’m currently writing the first threesome sex/BDSM play scene in my novel: Thomas (the “Master”) has agreed to let Jo (his “Slave”) find a “sister Sub” to explore her bi-curiousness with; he has made it clear that he “doesn’t want to share”, and therefore in their first threesome session Jo is co-topping their new partner under his direction.
Dr. Slut describes:
Fortunately, it went beautifully—better than I could have dreamed, really, but part of the reason I felt so comfortable was because I was just working as my husband’s accomplice, and I didn’t have to take as much responsibility for dominant decisions.
I borrowed a line from The West Wing during the set-up for the scene. “There’s nothing you can do that won’t make me proud.” Leo McGarry says it to the President just before he’s due to go on the election debate in (I think) season 3. I have Thomas say it to Jo just before the play starts. He emphasises that he is there to watch over her, and he will be guiding her as she tops for the first time. Writing the scene is a challenge, because I’ve never done threesome, co-topping or any “poly” play before; it’s also the first scene where I have to explain safety precautions and negotiation (Thomas and Jo are an established M/s couple so it’s more spontaneous; they are also fluid-bonded as husband and wife). So there’s a whole bunch of different layers of trust and uncertainty floating around (Jo’s experimenting both with her sexual identity and with her D/s identity, for example).
One thing neither Dr. Slut nor my current novel scene seems to cover is the trust of the toppermost top in a co-topping scene. The example she uses shows more spontaneity, and therefore perhaps less hierarchical structure than my novel’s scene. But it occurs to me that there is a double trust there. It’s implied with the set-up, the “Nothing you can do that won’t make me proud”, “I’m there to see you don’t go wrong” elements I used. The toppermost top needs to trust not only the bottomest bottom to communicate, but also their co-top to listen and respond to direction, or at least, to have the skill to top well independently. Dr. Slut’s example:
And yet the hottest moment for me occurred when he told me to put my knife to her nipples, and instead of doing that, I looked straight into her eyes and said, “I’d rather put it in her pussy,” held it against her clit, and watched her pupils almost completely dilate as she came in terror.
Now, I don’t generally do knife play. I can use them for fear play (which is what’s going on here) and have a few shiny, scary-looking blades that would come in handy for that sort of “game”. But if I’m “he” in the anecdote above, and saw that happen, in that moment where the knife moves to rest against the bottom’s clit, I would probably experience almost as much terror as the bottom did (and for me, that’s not going to make me come). I believe I would get a huge pay-off in the form of an adrenaline high shortly afterwards, as I realise that of course (of COURSE!) nothing bad is really going to happen.
It’s probably why co-topping is something I would be reluctant to do.
My novel doesn’t cover it because the scene is told from Jo’s perspective: it’s her reaction to how the session plays out that drives the plot forwards, and it’s also a scene in which I get to describe how I feel about topping (as opposed to how Thomas would feel about it; also, Jo is the main protagonist so mostly I tell her bottoming to Thomas rather than Thomas topping her).
To top for someone, I feel like I need to have some kind of baseline for their reactions, so I can trust their body (non-verbal reactions); I need to have some kind of communication, so I can trust their words, and I need some kind of basis for their mind, so I can trust their response afterwards. That is, a reason to trust them to “communicate with [me] honestly and forgive [me] if [I] fuck up.”