What EXACTLY Is A 'Service Top' In The BDSM Kink Community?

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'Service Top' BDSM Kink Community
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Find out how you can explore whether or not you might be one.

Service top and topping from the bottom are two terms many in the kink community know, but few fully understand. These words have come to take on meaning that has negative connotations and are forcing people into uncomfortable roles that could be damaging consent.

In order to fully explain my connection to this, I really have to talk about my personal history of service and how I decided my “role” in BDSM.

My History Of Service To Others

Nearly two decades ago I started on my journey into the world of kink and BDSM. I knew I needed to pick a role, but I didn’t know which I was “supposed” to pick.

So I thought about it long and hard. I have always been someone involved in service my entire life. I was a long time volunteer in high school, a counselor at summer camp, and had always tutored those that needed it for free. In college, I taught life skills classes to special needs kids as a volunteer because it was the right thing for me to do — not for credit or money, it was just right.

Many of the men in my family also joined military service, myself included. I decided to join the Air Force as a medic.

Even in the service, I was a volunteer and decided to not only learn about paramedicine as a job, but taught CPR, basic first aid, and first responder classes for others who weren’t medics that needed those skills.

I decided to become a submissive so that I could serve others.

I figured if I was ever going to change roles, I would need to know what things felt like before I could do them to other people.

I like women. I also adore women’s feet. Growing up, my best friend’s Mom was a sexy Italian woman with large torpedo shaped breasts. She ran her house like a tyrant, slapped her husband and kids (and me!) whenever it suited her. She also had tiny feet and hundreds of shoes.

She reminded me of one of the women you would see in the adult BDSM comics of the 50s and 60s who bossed men around, yet she looked uber feminine.

I decided to reconnect with the feeling she gave me by organizing parties where I would serve around 8 to 10 women and their feet.

Some of them were lifestyle people, some pro-dommes, some were women who weren’t kinky at all, but they wanted to be served this way by me. It was very ritualistic for me. I had a towel for each woman’s feet so that they would never touch the ground until I was done. I had fancy organic foot scrubs, pedicure equipment, invigorating foot lotion, toenail polish kit, etc.

In my spare time, I started studying about pressure points in feet to become a better servant and rock star foot masseuse.

And then, my problems started.

I was very obsessive and compulsive about my kink and became incredibly bossy. I would start with one woman, a pro-domme, by scrubbing and washing her feet. Then, I'd move on to the pedicure, applying lotion and finally massaging her feet. Often, in the middle of the process, as pro-dommes do, she would do something other than what I wanted.

I would tell her, “Sit down, shut up and let me serve you, mistress!”

This totally shocked her. I was not intentionally rude about it, but she had interrupted my perfect zen flow of service. Rather than be upset, she laughed and said, “You’re not a sub, you’re a foot top!”

I was pissed. “No, I am not, Ma’am," I yelled back forcefully. "I am a submissive!" 

She laughed some more.

Pretty soon, I figured out I was a top, not a bottom.

I really like serving other people’s needs while topping them. I was told by many people wiser and more experienced than me that this was bad. I said to myself, “F*ck that. This is my life I will top my way.” I became a sadistic, dominant, service top.

Now, after you've heard my own story, think about yourself.

No matter how much, or how little experience you have, reflect on what channeled your path to the place you have chosen in kink today. Maybe you started out as a bottom, too, but now you are a top. Like me, all these experiences formed who you are, how you play, and who you play with.

This area of BDSM theory is vastly under-researched. So, I decided to research it myself. Although I'm not an academic, nor am I a psychologist, I was determined. Hey, I am a smart guy. I belonged to Mensa. I'm educated and I'm a writer. I can do this! 

F*ck. There was nothing out there except for a blog post by my friend, Clarisse Thorn, and a Wikipedia article, and that was pretty much it.

After reading these two pieces and doing research by sifting through other people’s writings on Fetlife, I came up with my own ideas about the subject.

And I finally had a Eureka moment!

Both of the processes of being a “service top” and “topping from the bottom” are really inverse power exchanges.

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In some circles of the BDSM community, these phrases are also considered curse words.

A “service top” is someone who takes the active role in a power exchange and at the same time is told what to do from the passive participant — the bottom. Being told what to do during a scene by the bottom can be considered having a weak will by some. On the flip side of the coin, someone who “tops from the bottom” is the passive participant in a scene who orders the active partner what to do, and how to do it. This can be seen as uppity or bratty, especially by some pro-dommes.

Enforcing your definition of a role onto another person is a dangerous thing, because it threatens their consent.

Imagine telling a brand new BDSM player, “A true sub always takes it up the a$$,” or “A true Domme never needs to be told what to do.” A noob will adhere to this simply because they have been told that is the correct way to do BDSM. Someone new to the scene is not yet fully consenting. However, they are responding to what they are being told no matter what role they pick.

This “role policing,” as Clarissa calls it, is specifically what violates consent as it forces a person to do things against their will.

The overall category of the "top" in a scene consists of three parts that fall along a spectrum:

  • Sadism
  • Dominance
  • Service Tops

All people who identify as a top can fit comfortably somewhere within that spectrum. A pro-domme is often times equal parts sadist, dominant, and service top, and is also a great example of where one top’s archetype falls in this spectrum.

I thought long and hard about how to explain this theory. Another Eureka moment! Safe words! Safe words are the best way to express this concept as a practical example.

A safe word is a word, or words, used by the passive participant, or bottom, to stop play because something feels physically or mentally wrong. This word might be “Red," “Banana," or “Rutabaga Einstein Spleen."

A dominant obeys and stops the scene when a safe word is called because that is the agreed upon protocol. A sadist may ignore the safe word because they get enjoyment from their submissive’s misery. A service top may choose not to use safe words with their subs, because they will stop when the submissive says, “Stop!” and will go to the left when told, “Go to the left!” and not need their use.

If you are a top, you should think about where you fit into this whole scheme.

Perhaps you are a daddy-dom who is one part service top and one part sadist. Or, maybe you are a rope top that is purely a dominant. Take time to think about your style of play and this will help you find out a bit more about yourself.

The overall category of the "bottom" describes the passive partner (the person that has things done to them) in a BDSM scene. They also fall along a three-part spectrum:

  • Masochism
  • Submission
  • Topping from the bottom.

A masochist most likely won't want a safe word. A submissive will use a safe word when truly appropriate. People who top from the bottom don’t really use safe words. Instead, they tell the top when to stop, but in a passive way they expect to be heard and followed.

What bottom archetype are you?

I gave a lecture on this subject at a recent munch (a public networking event for people who are kinky or kink-curious) at Munchzilla in Chicago. A lovely young lady asked me, “I’m a brat. Where do I fit in?

This was a perfect example! A brat is one part masochist and one part top from the bottom, but rarely ever a submissive at all.

There is no one true way to fulfill a role. Don’t let anyone police what or who you are.

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Like a $20 dollar bill that is folded in half, wrinkled up and stuffed in a pocket, you still have the same value as you always did. You just change shape over time. It’s fun to figure out what you are called or identify with, ditch the labels and the meaning behind them, like I did, carve out your own way to be a top (or a sub).

Anyone who has played with me knows how dominant and sadistic I can be, but if my baby girl looks ouchy in the “wrong” way, I turn into a Jewish Grandmother.

This does not make me weak, it is simply who I am — service top with sadistic and dominant tendencies.

However you like to play, remember to just be you.

 

This article was originally published at SunnyMegatron.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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