Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kaelah's Corner (Jun 2012):
I Want It All

Erica Scott recently published a very thought-provoking post titled I'd rather fight than switch in which she explained why she has no desire whatsoever to make any topping experiences and why she doesn't subscribe to the idea that everyone has to switch at least once in order to be a good top or bottom. I absolutely agree with Erica on that matter. In my opinion, no one should be forced into any kind of play he or she isn't comfortable with. And I don't think that having experienced "the other side" is a necessary precondition for being a good top or bottom.

Especially concerning tops, this matter is discussed quite often, though. And while I agree with Erica that having experienced the bottom side isn't a necessary precondition for being able to read a bottom correctly, I also agree with Secret Spanko who stated in his recent post about switching that in his view, having experienced kinky play as a bottom can give tops additional insights.

A picture that had been brought up in Erica's post was that of a surgeon. Of course a surgeon doesn't have to undergo surgeries him- or herself in order to do a good job. But, as Secret Spanko rightfully added, having been to a hospital as a patient might give a surgeon additional insights on how that feels and which fears can be caused by the prospect of having to undergo surgery.

Which brings me to my personal kinky preferences. Now, first of all, I am a switch and I need both sides in order to feel balanced. Accordingly, it is very important for me that my mate Ludwig switches. And I generally prefer to play with switches, too. This isn't so much a precondition for topping someone, but it is almost a necessary precondition for me when I play as a bottom. The only person who has ever topped me and who, as far as I know, doesn't switch, was Thomas Cameron. With him it felt right, though, and I am going to explain to you why in a second.

First, let me say that one explanation for my preference for playing with switches are my personal kinky fantasies. You see, I am not so much into power exchanges based on age-differences, like in daddy-girl-scenarios. And I am not into permanent power imbalances. But still I want my spanker to have some kind of authority, preferably one that he or she has earned through experience. In my fantasy scenarios, the tops are often experienced trainers or instructors whose authority comes from the fact that they have worked their way through the ranks so that they are now able to hand down their experiences to the next generation who will then one day be in the role of trainers or instructors themselves. So, if a top has experienced the bottom side as well, that makes this person more attractive for me fantasy-wise.

When it comes to topping, I have to admit that topping a person who is predominantly a top has a special attraction for me as well. There are two reasons for that. One is that this allows for a "you can dish it out, so now I expect you to take you own medicine" premise for the spanking if that premise has some attraction for the switching top as well (it has for Ludwig). And secondly, giving him- or herself into my hands feels like an even greater gift of trust from someone who isn't predominantly into bottoming and for whom it might be even harder to submit him- or herself to another person.

This is about much more than kinky fantasies, though. This is about how I communicate and about what I need in order to feel safe and understood. I am a control freak. Submitting control isn't easy for me at all and it is nothing that I really seek out, except maybe with very close and trusted people. So, bottoming for someone most probably costs me more of an effort than it does for those for whom giving up control has a higher attraction or comes more naturally.

Therefore, I need the feeling of being understood in order to let go. And that doesn't just mean being interpreted and handled correctly. It means that I want the other person to know how I feel. I want the other person to be able to relate to my fears. And I want that person to have experienced something similar. That becomes especially important if anything doesn't work out so well during a scene. Then it helps me a lot to talk to someone afterwards who knows how that feels. That's why playing with switches is much more important for me when playing as a bottom than it is when I top another person. Because as a top, I don't feel vulnerable.

When I reflected on Erica's post, it occurred to me that this way of thinking for me is not only kink-related. It is how I tick, anyway. For example, if I experience somehing that makes me feel down, what helps me the most isn't a strong shoulder to cry on or someone who takes over and offers me a solution for the problem. No, what helps me the most is exchanging thoughts with people who have experienced similar situations and who can relate to my feelings.

I think what makes it even more difficult for me to give myself into the hands of pure tops in the spanking community is that for some people, being a top is a permanent role. I think that usually goes together with the desire for a permanent unidirectional power dynamic. I am not talking about those who simply are pure tops or bottoms like Erica here. I am talking about people for whom switches can't be "real" tops in a scene. That means for the bottoms concerned that they wouldn't want to be topped by a switch and for the tops concerned that they wouldn't ever switch (or tell anyone about it if they did) because they worry about losing their credibility as "real" tops. Don't get me wrong. If someone has a preference for playing with pure tops or bottoms, fine. But if that turns into a credibility problem and leads to people denying who they are, I find that strange.

In the comment thread of Secret Spanko's post, it was stated that the aforementioned problem occurs especially with female bottoms and male tops. And, truth to be told, if I have the slightest feeling that a top considers him- or herself only a "real" top if he or she doesn't switch or doesn't admit it, I don't want to play with that person. Because that attitude means that this person wouldn't take me seriously as a top, either, and that this person assumes that bottoming makes a person less of a leader. I don't want any of that leader – follower dynamic in my play. That's why I had no problem with being topped by Tom because he definitely hasn't got that attitude. But it is why I am generally much more comfortable with bottoming for switches than for pure tops. Of course, I wouldn't want to play with anyone who would only accept me as a play partner if I denied certain parts of myself, either.

For my relationship with Ludwig, switching is very important for both of us for many reasons. To begin with, the fact that Ludwig had made experiences as a switch was one of the reasons why I asked him to introduce me into the world of spanking in the first place. When he told me about the fears he himself had had before taking the plunge and trying spanking for real (he started out as a bottom, although he knew that he was a top, because he wanted to know how taking a spanking feels like before administering one to another person), that made me feel very well understood and safe.

Later on, when I did scenes with him that were close to the edge for me (like my first severe scene or like scenes as a bottom in front of a camera), that was partly only possible because I knew that Ludwig, being a control freak himself, had done the same things before me. And I knew that I could tell him about my fears and limits because he had similar ones when bottoming.

Of course, every person is different, and just because someone has played on the same side it doesn't mean that this person has made similar experiences. So, one shouldn't make the mistake of assuming that other bottoms have similar limits and preferences when playing as a top. For example, Ludwig had a much more positive mindset about severe canings than I had, and therefore managed to handle them much better than I handled my first one. But, he had made a different experience with a scene that went wrong for him as a bottom and which kept him from playing again for quite a while. So, that was the scene we talked about when he told me that he didn't want me to do anything I wasn't really comfortable with. And it was the experience of his that he kept in mind when he guided me through my experience.

Sharing topping experiences with Ludwig is similarly great. My first co-topping experience with the lovely Leia-Ann Woods enabled me to better understand some of the feelings which Ludwig had described when he had written about his topping experiences in front of a camera. It also helped me to understand how easily a spanking can get a bit too fast, because for the top, it can feel slower than for the bottom who has to process the pain. This enabled me to communicate more openly when bottoming. The feeling that Ludwig trusts me enough to give himself into my hands is wonderful as well. And co-topping Pandora with him was a great experience, too (I would love to do another co-topping scene with Ludwig in the future).

In conclusion, I don't believe that one must switch in order to become a good top or bottom. At the same time, I think it's complete bollocks when switches are considered to be lesser tops or bottoms and when people don't have the guts to admit who they are. I am a switch and I am very happy that with my mate Ludwig, I get the chance to experience both very different sides of the coin (or, rather, cane). And talking about switching, the next post will contain a long overdue F/M scene for you to watch. So, stay tuned!


Spankingfreunde.DE said...

The pictures I like! Figure 1 is probably for the mirror, figure 2 leaves room for many fantasies. The topic I like less! Many words about nothing!

To switch sides because its own atmosphere and the aura of a partner requires force, no words! Spanking is a gift and be rewarded ... regardless of which side you look at it!

I could perhaps have pity with which this view of things remains hidden forever! Discuss why you could stay forever in the dark for some this is. Maybe something to do with the fear of losing themselves.

Secret Spanko said...

What a thoughtful and insightful post. I'm glad you joined in this conversation. I've been waiting for it since I read your comment on Erica's blog.

And you touched on something else that I thought about including in my post on switching, but decided to save for a different post.

When you said

"When it comes to topping, I have to admit that topping a person who is predominantly a top has a special attraction for me as well...
giving him- or herself into my hands feels like an even greater gift of trust from someone who isn't predominantly into bottoming and for whom it might be even harder to submit him- or herself to another person." You hit on something that really appeals to me too. Nailed it. Nice post.

Erica said...

Kaelah, I love how articulate you are. Your posts always make me think and I appreciate hearing your views on this always-interesting (and often volatile) topic. I love how you can see both sides of the controversy and that you validate them both.

I totally get what you're saying about the shared experience, about the empathy your top will have for you if he/she has gone through the same thing, felt the same feelings. I guess for me, I don't need my top to empathize so much as to simply be kind, sensitive and intuitive. Because if he is, he doesn't have to feel my pain to know it's there, and act accordingly.

Thank you, and please don't ever stop writing!

Indy said...

"I would love to do another co-topping scene with Ludwig in the future"

Me! I volunteer!

Once again, you and I have very similar thoughts on this topic. I've been meaning to blog about this for quite a while; perhaps I'll have to move this post to the top of my "unfinished" list...

Our Bottoms Burn said...

Excellent discussion!

As married switches, it is rare to encounter someone who sees things like we do

ronnie said...

I have no desire to switch but found this excellent and so articulate. Thanks Kaelah.


Kaelah said...

@ Spankingfreunde / Rainer:
Thanks for your compliment about the pictures. I have to admit that I didn't really understand your comment about the post itself but I assume that your point was that there shouldn't be any need to discuss these things. The reason why I discuss them is that, as I mentioned in my post, there are people who either tell others that everyone has to switch, regardless whether that person is interested in switching or feels comfortable with it and there are others who don't take switches seriously as tops or who are afraid of admitting that they have switches because they are afraid of not being taken seriously any more. So, I think it is important to talk about that. And I like to write about why I like the things that I like and what they mean to me. It helps me to understand myself better and sometimes it also helps others to either learn something about themselves or get a better understanding of people whose kink is different from theirs.

@ Secret Spanko:
Thank you for your kind comment and for your inspiring post! I am looking forward to reading more about switching tops and the special appeal from your perspective.

@ Erica:
Wow, that's a really lovely compliment which makes me blush! Thank you! :-) Your original post really was some kind of a revelation for me. I knew what I like about switching but when I contemplated your post, my special way of communicating and of wanting to be understood in a certain way suddenly became clear to me. That was great because this isn't only about spanking, it is about much more. It helped me to understand why vanilla conversations sometimes don't turn out the way they should and what kind of environment I need in general. That doesn't happen very often, but in my opinion, it is great if reading spanking blogs also helps me to learn something about me that goes far beyond kink. Thanks a lot for that special thought-fodder. :-)

@ Indy:
You've just made it on our "double thrashing" list! Always be careful what you wish for. ;-) In the meantime I am looking forward to reading your post about the topic! :-)

@ Our Bottoms Burn:
Thank you! :-)

@ Ronnie:
Thanks for your lovely compliment and for stopping by. :-)

Spankingfreunde.DE said...


Genau das ist der Punkt, darüber reden? Wem hilft das! Wer nimmt schon einfach so eine andere Meinung an!

Darüber nachdenken was man fühlt und empfindet ist eine ganz andere Hausnummer!

Aber wer denkt schon über Gefühle und Empfindungen nach? Doch nur Menschen ohne Vorurteile und vorgefassten Meinungen!

Jetzt darfst das ganze auch noch gern übersetzten, weil es so herrlich provokant ist! :D

Liebe Grüße aus dem Westen der Republik in den Süden!

Kaelah said...

Spankingfreunde / Rainer asked me to translate his provocative comment for our English-speaking readers:

That's exactly the point! Why talk about it? Who will change their minds because of that?

Thinking about one's own feelings is something completely different. But who does that, anyway? Only people without prejudices and preconceived opinions!

@ Rainer:
That's exactly why we discuss these topics on this blog! *grins*

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Because the majority of our readers are people who are interested in learning more about their own feelings and about how others tick as well. People who are even willing to change their mind if good arguments which they hadn't been aware of come up, as you can see from some of the comments on this post and on other posts.
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