Sometimes, I’m sweet and submissive and can articulate my needs clearly in advance, and I’m always getting better at it. Outside of the bedroom, I can ask for what I want and get it; I’m forever remembering that those skills are transferable. If you can order a pizza, you can talk about sex.* Inside of the bedroom, I can take a deep breath and get vulnerable, tell my top du jour what I want to play with or don’t today. I can ask for the black paddle, get handsy with the strap-on straining in her tight jeans and say, “Daddy, that’s too big! But maybe a blowjob?” I don’t mind stepping outside of my comfort zone if I think it’s worth it.
Sometimes, I’m a brat. If I know we both wish a scene were kinkier but my top is not moving in that direction, I get bratty to get what I want. In the moment, I can’t always use my skills for talking about sex. Instead, I can force my top’s hand. I don’t have to worry about communication making me feel like I’m out of subspace; I don’t have to worry about subspace affecting my communication. I get to keep feeling like a bottom and keep getting what I want, and what my top wants too.
Here’s a real life example: During one scene, I suddenly really wanted to be fucked in the ass. My then-top and I had talked about that activity as reserved for naughty bottoms, so I did everything in my power to be naughty. I wiggled during a spanking because I wasn’t allowed to wiggle during a spanking. Strike one. I reached my hand back after a particularly stingy smack. Strike two. “If you don’t move your hand and stop wiggling, I’m going to fuck your naughty ass.” I wiggled more. Strike three.
I knew what I wanted and I was bratty until I got it. Sometimes, that’s the best I can do. Sometimes, the easiest way for me to communicate my needs as a bottom is to get more into being a bottom. Speaking up and being a bottom aren’t contradictory… sometimes I just don’t want to! A friend and I always commiserate over the fact that life would be so much easier if tops could just read our minds. Yes, please, smack me in the face and call me a slut, but please don’t make me ask for it. Not right now. Being bratty is a way to speak up without speaking up. I’m not in control of the scene, but I have control over the scene.
Sometimes, I pretend to be a top in order to get play moving in the direction I want it to move. Because sometimes, tops are shy about topping, especially if we weren’t totally explicit about our wants and needs prior to sex (as happens a lot with casual partners). They want bottoms to be happy, but they don’t want to cross boundaries — and in kink, it’s easy to cross a boundary unless everyone does the work to make sure that doesn’t happen — so they hold back. I hold their hand, and then place it on my body and say exactly what I want to happen: “Bite me.” “Slap me.” I reach for my toy bag, my sex drawer knob, some rope, and ask, “Are you gonna do anything?” I tease until they decide that enough is enough and actually take charge. And that’s the thing about most tops; no matter how shy they are, they want to take charge just as much as I want to submit.
Sometimes, I get accused of topping from the bottom. I know other bottoms don’t like being accused of that, and the phrase has the potential to be used against any bottom who communicates their needs. I know there are lots of ways to get my needs met, and scenes that happen when I act like a brat or top from the bottom feel different than scenes where I articulate my needs but let my top do the work. But there’s nothing wrong with communicating your needs as a bottom; in fact, it’s crucial. Submitting is a weird dichotomy of knowing exactly what you want but putting someone else in control of giving it to you. As a sub, there are very specific things that I want to happen in the bedroom and very specific things that I don’t want to happen. I may not overtly dictate how a dom and I spend time together, but I do need to dictate it. Topping from the bottom is just one way I communicate. Now I smile when I’m told I’m being toppy because it means I’m making sure I get what I want. And because being a bratty bossy bitch boi is fun.