Putting the B in GLBT

Posted in relationships by Ivy O'Malley on December 2, 2009

As one of the purposes of this blog is to add depth and variety to the discussions of female dominance out there, I’d like to address one of the discursive lacks that I find most personally baffling. I’m a 60/40 bisexual, preference for female partners. This is my own internal summarization of what turns my head, but it’s pretty accurately represented in my body count as well, in both kinky and vanilla interactions. It’s easier for a woman to capture my attention, to provoke a speculative eyebrow, or to successfully approach me with her interest in kink. I’m disappointed that most popular conceptions of female dominance assume that only women topping men is important. I am more likely to top women than I am men, and those encounters are equally intense and meaningful. Many of the other female dominants that I know have female partners, exclusively or in addition to their male partners, so I am hardly a community rarity.

There are definite trends in how I interact with women in a BDSM context versus how I interact with men, and this alternately fascinates and worries me. My female partners have been predominantly bottoms or submissives, with the occasional switch. I’ve only had one top-top relationship with another woman. My male partners are usually tops or toppish switches willing to flex for me. I’ve had several top-top relationships with men. I am unsure of how much of this is a result of the pressures on men to identify as toppy or dominant and how much of it is just my taste. My female partners are usually delighted to let me drive, and our play tends to center around explorations of their limits and boundaries. My male partners usually want to fight me for control, and our play tends to center around that struggle and its inevitable fruit. The relationships where kink follows me out of the bedroom are usually but not always my relationships with women, though there’s an element of service in most of my relationships regardless of the gender of my partner. I dish out stronger deliberately painful sensations to my female partners, as they appreciate it more, ask for it, and can take it. I hit my male partners as if we were sparring, and I almost never am so combative with women. Yet, when the chips are down, almost all of my kink relationships coalesce the same way — my partners want to be my right-hand woman (or man) as we work together towards our common goal. That element of service shows up and flavors our pursuit as a team of whatever it is we’re after. (In fairness, I’ll also do this if my partner is more knowledgeable/competent/suited to lead our effort than I am in a given sphere. I’ll Girl Friday if that’s going to be more successful, and I make a pretty good service top. However, most of the time I’m directing as well as executing.)

I find it interesting that it’s so much easier for women to successfully approach me for play, or to indicate their interest such that I care to follow up on it. I can’t recall a single occasion where a fellow who made the first move was terribly successful with me — most guys do better if they wait for me to approach them. Women don’t tend to approach me very often, but they will say something that lets me know whether I can approach them without offense or not. With women, I’ll find out if they’re even potentially interested in my gender before broaching the subject of interactive kink with them. Men tend to make their orientation clear more quickly, at least with regards to interest or lack thereof in me. And while I usually prefer to take plenty of time to get to know my prospective bottom’s psyche, likes, dislikes, limits, and interests, it’s still useful for me to know whether that information is coming up in a friendly but academic discussion or whether it’s something that I might find personally useful and important to remember.

I am a firm believer in women being willing to do some of the courtship risk-taking — that is to say, I am usually the first one to stick my neck out and declare interest or attraction, to ask someone out rather than waiting to be asked, the first to make commitment noises or acknowledge deepening feelings or to say “I love you”. This has been important with all my partners due to the common assumption that the dominant partner will be the one driving these things, but it’s been particularly important with my female partners. (Amusing, since my female partners get a better reception on average than my male partners if they do want to drive these behaviours first.) Lesbian sheep syndrome certainly happens, and while I’m happy to cut through it as needed, if I weren’t willing to do so I’d have far fewer dates. I have, humorously, commanded someone to be my girlfriend in the past… but only after making damn sure that we were well suited and that it was what she wanted.

I have had lesbians who were unwilling to date me due to my male partners. I don’t think I’ve ever had a woman decline my invitation to kink because I have male partners as well; if that has happened, she never told me so. I have not had a man ever turn me down for relationship or kink due to my having female partners. (Being poly at all, yes, but not because they couldn’t handle me being involved with women.) I don’t tend to play casually — I’m happy to educate or demonstrate technique more casually, but if I’m seriously sitting down with someone for pre-scene negotiations, odds are very good that they have emotional heft in my life. This often makes me wonder how most women think of kink versus relationships with women, and what would incline them towards one but not the other. They’re different but related kinds of intimacy to me, though obviously I’m delighted to engage in both with my female partners.

I know there are plenty of other bi and lesbian toppy women out there — I look forward to hearing your stories too.

2 Responses

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  1. Carol Anne Caiafa said, on December 3, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Very interesting viewpoint! A lot to think about. It shows there is a lot more to the world of kink than many know about, including many kinky people I’ve met.

    My own experience has been fascinating and frustrating in many ways. When I’ve told people, for example, that I’m a top woman, I tend to get more guys interested in me than girls. And because I’m the frilly type of femme (goth and lolita fashion) instead of the leather corset type, some people tend to think I must be “really” a sub. (Er, no. Not unless you’re Cthulhu, I’m not! 😉 )

    And I’ve noticed in some quarters a preference for masculine dominant women… I can see the attraction and have even tried the male persona thing, but sadly it didn’t work out for me.

  2. maymay said, on December 25, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    The phenomenons you describe in this post are prevalent, and personally upset me in so gigantic a way that it quickly becomes difficult to remain coherent when trying to address why they disturb me so much.

    I think there is a huge cultural repression of submissive masculinity that results in such extreme marginalization that only the extreme end of socially inept men are able to identify with the term “submissive.” This has, of course, been discussed ad nauseum. Any social aptitude in a man whatsoever is instantly channeled into what the dominant paradigm considers, well, dominant.

    How fucking annoying is that? So. Very. Annoying.

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