Savage Love: Bottoming Out
I’m a 29-year-old gay man living in California. Why are most tops such assholes? I have had plenty of sexual partners ranging in age, ethnicity and expressed sexual orientation. But what unites them all is a general callousness toward bottoms or even a delight in the knowledge that it is they who get to “use and abuse” bottoms. Is this a cultural artifact? I find the notion of putting someone else in pain for my pleasure so repulsive that I have yet to top anyone. I’m starting to think that pleasurable sex is for tops alone, and bottoms are supposed to just shut up and take whatever they can get out of it. Help me square the messaging that bottoms are not as valuable as tops and the nonchalance that accompanies the orgasm gap, especially in gay sex.
-Tell Me I’m Wrong
“I feel for this guy, I really do,” said Ty Mitchell, a gay porn star and writer. “But where does he get off? No, really, where in his body? Because it doesn’t sound like he gets off on butt stuff, or even believes anal pleasure is real.”
Mitchell, whose handle on Instagram is “probottom,” definitely gets off on bottoming and other butt stuff, TMIW.
“Getting penetrated feels great for me, way better than topping,” said Mitchell. “Much to my chagrin, most of the guys I wish would fuck me seem to feel this way, too. But the guys who do fuck me want to know they’re making me feel good. Even the ones who fuck me like I’m scum do it because I’ve asked them to, because sometimes that turns me on.”
Mitchell suspects bottoming has been a consistently terrible experience for you because either being penetrated isn’t something that feels good for you or you aren’t advocating for your own pleasure in the moment. “TMIW may need to communicate more with his partners about what does and doesn’t feel good for him,” said Mitchell. “And if he finds no pleasure in bottoming, he should stop bottoming and get off some other way.”
As for what may be going on culturally, TMIW, Mitchell definitely had some thoughts.
“A lot of men are bad at attending to their partners’ pleasure because we live in a fucked-up patriarchy” said Mitchell. “From childhood on, men are systematically taught that sex is a matter of instinct instead of intention, and that our dicks are magical wands that bring people satisfaction just by showing ’em off and sticking ’em in people who don’t have one or aren’t using theirs. Gay men aren’t immune to these messages and even reward men who are loyal to straight-passing masculinity.”
But we both want you to know there are good, attentive, compassionate gay men out there who can fuck the shit out of a guy while at the same time checking in to make sure the guy they’re fucking is enjoying the experience, too. The minute a guy says or does something that proves he isn’t one of those guys, TMIW, show him the door. Showing someone the door is one of the most effective ways we can advocate for our own pleasure; the sooner you show someone who doesn’t care about your pleasure out, the sooner you can show someone who does in. And Mitchell thinks a quick tweak to your search criteria will help you find yourself a good guy: “Flip on that ‘vers top’ filter [on the hookup apps], and stick to guys who at least have some empathy toward the anal experience,” said Mitchell.
Follow Ty Mitchell on Twitter, where you can find his porn work or you can find his rage and writing. You can find Mitchell’s essays on Substack.
Gay male here. Every so often, I call an old-fashioned phone-sex party line to get off with strangers. Usually the talk is pretty standard stuff about what we would be doing to each other if we were together. Sometimes I like to pop into the older/younger room, and more than once I’ve found an older guy who likes connecting with younger guys (me). That’s fine, but as this guy phone-fucks me, he starts slipping into some disturbing comments. Specifically, he’ll go from talking about how much he likes fucking me — a consenting, over-18 male — to talking about how much he’s enjoying fucking underage girls in his own family. I have no control over who the system matches me with, and of course I can click out at will. I also have no way of knowing where this guy is calling from. But I’ve encountered him a few times. Do I have some kind of obligation here?
-Perturbed, Horny, Offering No Encouragement
Anonymous strangers on phone-sex party lines — who even knew those were still a thing — are not mandatory reporters. Meaning, you aren’t legally obligated to go to the police if you suspect someone might be abusing a child. But even if you did file a report, what would you say? Someone, somewhere is saying some seriously fucked-up shit on an anonymous phone-sex line? You would get shrugged out of the police station. My advice would be to tell the guy, if you ever get matched with him again, that his child-rape fantasies are a huge turnoff and you’ve thought about reporting him. Then hang up.
My best friend (gay male) and I (straight male) are students in our penultimate year of university. While I and my other friends all do reasonably well romantically, my gay friend hasn’t had anything significant happen in the three years I’ve known him. He’s never had a relationship. It’s always been a bit of a soft spot for him, but recently, after going through an unreciprocated crush on a straight friend, he’s been very down about it. His constant complaint is that all the men he likes always wind up being straight male metrosexual types who don’t seem to realize they’re leading him on or are outright homophobic/super-hetero dickheads. He’s gotten on Grindr, but still no luck. Conversations about romance or sex almost inevitably end up with him lamenting his fate. While I’m always there to listen and talk, I’m not sure what I can say or do, other than the generic “It’ll happen one day” platitudes. He’s definitely attractive and charming and relatively confident, so it really does seem like the issue might just be one of scarcity. Just wondering if you have any advice.
-Begging Advice Regarding Ending Bestie’s Elongated Dry Spell
If your roommate is the only gay guy on your campus and Grindr is actually an empty cupboard, if this is truly a scarcity issue, then your roommate has all my sympathy, BAREBEDS. But if he’s one of those gay guys who finds gayness so repulsive in others that all openly gay men are automatically disqualified — if he’s one of those gay guys who’s only into straight-identified boys, straight metrosexuals, and his fellow homophobes — then your roommate has a lot less of my sympathy.
If you’ve seen him pass on other attractive, charming, confident gay boys he could have so he could go moon over straight boys he can’t have, BAREBEDS, then he doesn’t need to hear, “It’ll happen one day.” He needs to hear, “It’ll never happen until you get over your internalized homophobia, dude.” Because even if one of his straight crushes turns out to be just heteroflexible enough to let your roommate suck his dick, that guy isn’t going to be interested in more than a few blowjobs and certainly won’t be capable of loving him.
But, hey, if it really is about scarcity, and only graduating and moving away will change things, you can always tell him, “Sorry, it’s obviously not going to happen for you here — but instead of lamenting your fate, let’s talk about all the ass you’re gonna get when you move to New York/London/Berlin.”
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