Topping from the bottom is a feared act for novices because it holds a negative connotation that the person is somehow not submissive if they top from the bottom. It's whispered and screamed in all of the online forums dealing with BDSM and most of those talk about it with disdain and shame the people who they think are bottom-topping according to their own definitions. I'm well aware that topping from the bottom is a heated and hated topic among submissives (and probably Dominants), but that doesn't mean we should all stop talking about it and forming our own opinions and that's why I'm letting you know what I've had to do with a post on this subject. Last month I closed comments on a post on this site about topping from the bottom because it was getting a lot of personal attacks and negative responses. It pains me to do so, especially since it's a popular post, but there are only so many negative comments I can tolerate before I feel that it degrades the value of the post as a whole.
First, I'd like to tell you my view behind why I wrote the post in 2009, to begin with. I was asked by someone what were some ways you could possibly be topping from the bottom and so I wrote a response with five possible ways you could be doing so. They are not the only ways and they don't always apply. Much like any other definition, position or viewpoint in BDSM it's subject to personal opinions - just like my writing and my guest authors' writing here. I am not the only voice and you should never take what I have to say as the only solution to the problem or situation. If I have come across this way, I do apologize.
However, since this post is popular in search engines it was often the first post for anyone reading the site. They developed an opinion of me and the site by this one post. Since they thought I was telling them the only 5 ways that you could top from the bottom and that somehow it made them a bad submissive if they did (which I never said) that they decided this site was trash and just another one-true-wayist site.
Now, I've had a few years since that post to think about topping from the bottom some more and while my position hasn't changed and I still feel that post has merit I think it requires a bit of an update and perhaps more clarification.
The Central Concern of Bottom-Topping
Ask one hundred submissives why they consider topping from the bottom as bad and they will likely come up with something relating to "forcing the Dominant's hand." They'd be right. The real, honest to goodness, truth is that forcing the Dominant's hand is the only way you can bottom-top. How you do that is situational, different for different people or different reasons and you really can't list the exact ways that it comes about.
But what gets mixed up in that message is that there are ways to do similar actions that are not topping from the bottom at all but outsiders from the relationship may consider it a violation. What one person considers topping from the bottom could be another's way to guide a new budding Dominant into their role or suggesting a submissive's preferences.
A very real example could be this exchange at the checkout counter.
Sub: "May I have a candy bar please?"
Sub: "Please? I promise it won't ruin my dinner."
Dom: "I said no."
Sub: "I'll be extra good later and give you that massage you've been wanting. Please??"
Sub: "Aw, but I really want it (insert pouty face). Please?"
Dom: "Fine, just get one already." (sigh)
The submissive in this exchanged pushed the Dominant's hand and made him change his mind after he had already made his decision. While this example is exaggerated, you can see that the submissive in this situation wasn't going to take no for an answer and had already decided to force the Dominant to give in.
The Complex Balance of Giving and Taking
Now, as a novice submissive you very likely have a hard time seeing what could be topping from the bottom and what isn't. That's OKAY. You will learn what your Dominant is okay with and what they don't like. You will learn to avoid pushing their decisions in your favor just to get your way. I'm here to tell you that avoiding confrontation, however, is not a good way to develop in your submission.
As people, before we take on the mantle of Dominant or submissive, we have needs and desires, preferences and opinions. That's what makes us unique individuals. In a D/s relationship of any kind we embrace all of that and hopefully share it with another person. However, with the stigma of topping from the bottom, it is possible to take our desires, or needs and preferences and hide them if they don't line up with a Dominant. Take for example using belts as play tools. Say you really hate belts for one reason or another but haven't shared that information because you are afraid they will stop using them because you said something. OMG that's topping from the bottom you've heard.
It's not. It's open, honest communication. So what if they stop? They've made the conscious decision to listen to your concerns about belts and THEY DECIDED to stop. What other outcome could there be? They could have asked to work though your hesitation with belts instead. They could tell you that they only used them because they thought you liked them, having not said anything to the contrary and don't mind not using them.
The real lesson is to learn to talk about things.
I get the question all the time of "how can I make him do X,Y or Z?" and the real answer is you can't. But you can talk to them about why you'd like them to do X, Y or Z and find out where they stand on it. Mutually decide how to handle the situation. Don't force them into it.
Ultimately I hope that you've learned the truth behind a term clouded with false information and personal judgement. Learn about bottom-topping as it pertains to your own relationship and if those 5 ways apply to you or not, they have at least opened your eyes to the possibility of less topping from the bottom in your personal relationships.