I was interviewed by a journalist from Esquire Magazine for an article in their sex column in the publication’s December 2010 issue. It was about the concept of “the power bottom” as it pertains to gay sexuality. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the official pages of the magazine, but below are the questions I was asked with my corresponding answers.
1. What is the difference between a bottom and a power bottom, or how is power bottom defined?
In gay sexuality terms, a “bottom” is understood to be the male partner who is on the receptive end of anal intercourse and enjoys being penetrated. A “power bottom” could be defined as a bottom who has a strong enthusiasm and drive for engaging in long sessions of anal penetrative sex, whether as an extended single encounter with no interruption of being “topped”, or having the desire and ability to engage in multiple instances of anal sex over a long period of time within a sexual episode. A man who can accommodate penile thrusting for long periods without stopping and shows exuberance, lack of inhibition, and active participation in the sexual encounter are characterized as “power bottoms.” Many tops (the penetrator) who have endurance and enjoy long sessions of anal intercourse commonly complain about bottoms who have to terminate penetration because of discomfort, pain, or exhaustion. Conversely, power bottoms can also be discontented with a top who ejaculates too quickly during sex and halts the sexual encounter before he has been thoroughly satisfied.
2. Is it possible for a heterosexual male to be a power bottom? Or a woman? Is it exclusively a gay man’s thing?
“Power bottom” is simply a label attached to a sexual preference and taste that differentiates specific needs and desires for sex. The terms are primarily used in the gay community to help men distinguish between those partners that would be most compatible for their sexual needs; “top vs. bottom” is typically used as a screening tool to ensure goodness-of-fit with obtaining just the right sexual partner or prospect for a partner for a possible long-term intimate relationship. They can define particular sexual roles if that’s the route that’s chosen in a given sexual situation.
Though not as widely pronounced or publicized, I believe that heterosexuals also can be viewed as “power bottoms.” Sexuality is not cut-and-dry. Many straight men enjoy being penetrated by their girlfriends/wives with dildos and vibrators. While “power bottom” conjurs up images of strictly penis-in-anus, the advent of sex toys has added another dimension to the sexual needs of bottoms. The sensation of being “filled”, whether by a penis or some other object, meets a psychological need and fuels the sexual desire for this type of sexual activity. Additionally, in the heterosexual S&M community, the terms “top” and “bottom” are designated to either the man or woman who has the preference to live out these roles in either a sexual arena, or even in their general lifestyle and daily living practices. They espouse issues of power and control as opposed to being linked to any particular gender.