Switches and BDSM
Author: Lord Saber © 1999
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Most Tops and bottoms at some point start thinking about what it would be like to try things from "the other side" or switch. There of course are those who never express that desire and that's perfectly fine, although those who have "switched" can benefit from the experience. In my opinion, it gives you a better idea of what "the other side" goes through in a scene.
Our scene is supposed to be accepting of all kinks.
There are those who enjoy "switching" all the time. However, some in our community look down on those who switch, thinking you should "make up your mind" and be either a Top or a bottom. I think this kind of attitude is wrong. Our scene is supposed to be accepting of all kinks. We should all have the opportunity to freely express who we are in this scene and if it means switching roles, so be it!
I recently asked a few friends (all of whom switch), both from the "real world" and online what they get out of being a switch. My first friend who goes by the nick of "kitten" (because she is a 'Kat' to be reckoned with) offers these thoughts about switching:
"With certain people, those who are strong enough to accept it, I am submissive; with others who are weak, a nurturing part of me seeks to care for them as a Domme would, and even with those who are strong, my own strength must be taken into account; I am no pushover."
She scoffs at anyone who would say she can't make up her mind about being a Top or bottom, saying HER mind is made up! :)) kitten feels strongly that all Dom/mes should experience submission at least once, it makes them appreciate it more, and it teaches them the "fine tuning" of "lousy ideas like 'wait let me take off the condom so you can suck my cock' so the Dom/me gets a feel for what it's like to experience things like Nonoxynol-9 on the tongue, and other such scene destroying things."
kitten feels too there's a distinct advantage in being able to be so easily adaptive, for the Dom/me you can begin to adapt faster to your sub's response, and for both, communication is enhanced if each has "been in the other's shoes"
kitten feels among the disadvantages of being a switch are people's "preconceived notions; those who think all switches ARE subs, and those who think that switches are not to be taken seriously, and those who think that a switch is just indecisive and people who think that because you do sub sometimes, you *must* sub to them."
While kitten freely admits that she loves being pampered and 'devoured,' she most definitely is a strong woman, freely capable of making her own choices!
Dianne was the next switch I talked with. She has also done real-life switching as well as on online and offers these thoughts: Commenting on the "make up your mind" question, she says: "When I hear that my usual reply is this: "I am also bi and no one asks me to make up my mind about men or women. I know exactly what I want. Sometimes I want on top of the fence and other times I want to be under it. We all have a right to be who we are and there is nothing wrong with being a switch. We tend to see both sides well as we have experienced them both. When we lose the right to be different don't we then Lose the privilege to be free? There are as many different view points on different angles as there are Dominants and submissives."
As a switch I have felt what I am asking my submissive to do. I know their general thoughts and feelings on certain things.
What Dianne likes about being a switch is that if she feels in a submissive mood she doesn't have to be Domme and that she has another side she can be express. As she puts it, "we as switches have the best of both worlds. As a switch I have felt what I am asking my submissive to do. I know their general thoughts and feelings on certain things. As a switch as well I know the stresses of being a Dominant. I know the control mentally and physically that a Dominant requires even of themselves. A switch also has much less prejudice against others who may have different styles in the Lifestyle.
What she dislikes it about being a switch is that prejudice that seems to prevalent against switches. "We can get the worst of both sides as well, bad Dominants and bad subs. We on IRC get twice the number of HNG msgs. A lot of people expect a female to be a switch and yet a male switch is ridiculed even more I have heard."
Dianne goes on to list some of what she feels are disadvantages for switches: "It is extremely hard for a switch to find a Dominant who can accept their Dominant side as well as the submissive side. There are submissives who can't handle their Dom/Me also being a submissive to another. There is dealing with those who feel we are not "real," because we do enjoy both sides. I have seen switches stop switching because of prejudice against it and they are miserable denying the other side of themself. Also if a Dominant switch is gentle, then people assume it is because their switching makes them weak; it actually does the opposite.
While I personally would enjoy having my own collared sub who enjoyed Topping others when she was in the mood, I certainly can relate to what Dianne says.
I next spoke with my online friend ladyjo_ who enjoys switching because she as she puts it, "being a switch enables me to give pleasure to all my friends (s) either by allowing them to enjoy my reactions and surrender as a bottom, or in providing them with pleasure from my topping "talents." I get to explore myself alot more being a switch. I'm not really a sadist, but I sometimes have days when I really enjoy being in control" (g).
ladyjo_ also enjoys switching because it gives her multiple opportunities to play with her friends, but she finds if she Tops too much she experiences an emotional downswing. As she says, "Being predominately a bottom, it's hard to be in control and not have the release of subspace to help me re-focus."
She says that "sometimes I get "type-casted" when folks see me Top, they forget I am a bottom
What does she see as disadvantages? She says that "sometimes I get "type-casted" when folks see me Top, they forget I am a bottom; or, they don't take me seriously as a top because they've seen me involved in a heavy bottom scene; and sometimes people try to take advantage of my submissive nature by trying to force me into a role that I may not be "in the mood" for. I dislike hurting people but sometimes I have to say no to save my own sanity."
ladyjo_ also offered some other opinions about why some have such a
hard time accepting switches. For her, the lifestyle involves BDSM, not
actual D/s relationships. It's her opinion that most folks into D/s as
opposed to strictly BDSM don't understand the desire to switch, "It's
just not a part of their particular makeup,' as she puts it.
I think ladyjo_ makes an excellent point here!
The last person I spoke with was another online friend, hawthorn / Borealis, who asked me to use both of the nicks he uses online to emphasize that he is a switch.
There are always people who mistake their own experiences for the way it is for everyone
He scoffed at the question that some think switches can't make up their minds to be a Top or bottom, saying "There are always people who mistake their own experiences for the way it is for everyone, but you can't let them get to you." Like the others I talked with, he feels being a switch is "the best of both worlds, and each side helps you do the other side better." And as he puts it, "I like to try everything."
While hawthorn/Borealis felt uncomfortable about being a switch being an "advantage" as opposed to being strictly a Top or bottom, he did say this: "You are what you are and the advantage comes from following that. However, if the question must be asked, the advantage is that a switch can see from both sides. That helps in discussions, and it helps in actual practice, since we've seen it from the other side, and we know what that person wants, firsthand."
He doesn't like having to convince people that "it's possible to be like this in the first place. Just like bisexuals sometimes take flack from both hets and gays, switches sometimes take flack from both Tops and bottoms, but that's a problem that can be cured with more communication."
The answers I received from all four people I spoke with in some ways were somewhat similar and I agree with all of them about being able to "see things from the other side," when you switch. I know the very few times I have bottomed, either I did so for this reason or there was something I definitely wanted to try out as a bottom. I don't think anything less of myself for having bottomed, even if I am primarily a Top! In fact if anything I learned a lot by doing it! :)
I hope by reading this article, you have gained some insight and understanding into why there are switches and why they enjoy it. I certainly have. I also want to thank "kitten," Dianne, ladyjo_, and hawthorn/Borealis for their time in answering my questions.