How I hate the terms! Always have. Because, like 'active' and 'passive' (prime examples of a misnomer), they stink of politics, and the way we often use them puts 'tops' on a pedestal while implying an inferior status for "bottom" on the sexuality scale. Active people are macho, desirable Adonises whose phalluses should be worshipped, who control all the pleasure buttons of the 'bottoms', on whom they shall bestow favors as they please. On the other hand, 'bottoms' are those pitiable, effeminate creatures who are there for the asking, who need to be given a good fuck, whether in the mouth or the ass.
Here's a fairly interesting article on Advocate.com about this sexual politics and terminology. After all, sex is all about power and play-acting (and this reflects in our choice of words). But should it not be about intimacy and love or at the very least an equal give and take of pleasure?
Here are some extracts from the article if you do not find the time to read it in its entirety:
It's time for gay men to be rid of a drastic misconception about their sex lives, a misconception they've inherited from straight people eager to apply
gender stereotypes to sex between two males. It is not the top who wields all of the power in the bedroom. It is the bottom. I'm not making this call out of some desire for political correctness or a pressing need to divorce gay culture from all forms of heterosexual influence. To put it simply, I am deeply concerned that by accepting the idea that one sex partner is just a docile, weak-willed pillow biter, a large number of gay men are committing a grievous error: They're having lousy sex.
Further, and this is something we have all heard about:
Buying into the gender stereotypes society has assigned to each sexual role often leads gay men astray when they're pursuing what they want most. I've watched far too many friends fall head over heels for the brutish muscle god because he has all the physical qualities they have assigned as being stereotypically masculine. These friends are crushed when they learn that their object of desire wants to assume the very position they've grown accustomed to.
I'm not saying we should get rid of this restrictive model of gay sex because it's politically incorrect. Let's get rid of it because it's a form of sexual sloth. It's bad strategy to enter the bedroom with preconceived notions of how things are going to play out based on a partner's mannerisms and physical attributes. Unfortunately, a lot of gay men do this because it allows them to avoid the scariest part of sex: asking a partner what they want and summoning the strength to give it to them.
For reasons of sexual politics or for as a "strategy" (which is actually turning conventional logic on its head, if you know what I mean), these terms are so avoidable. I don't have anything against labels (they are even useful), but top/active and bottom/passive restrict my sexuality, which, as I have written in my previous posts, has different sides. :-)