I’m afraid I’m not really into arguing about this topic, anon.  To be quite honest, I haven’t read LSIT’s meta on that, so I’m not equipped to speak to their reasoning or the logic thereof, and my own meta on sub!John wasn’t written as a rebuttal to it.  I’m pretty sure we both posted them independent of each other.

People liking the interpretation of a character as a bottom or top, both or neither is totally legit!  And we should be free to talk and read and write about what we like, and share with other people who share our preferences.  This is why I created the bottomjohn blog.  But when it turns into an argument about which is better—or worse, which is wrong—there can’t be any real winners, because it’s really only about what we like.  And it’s simply futile to try to convince people to hate what they like.

Incidentally, it’s also rude to mock people or tell them it’s ridiculous to have a distinct preference at all when, clearly, sometimes they do.  It’s sexuality; people don’t always get to choose what turns them on.  Maybe it’s a permanent preference or maybe it’ll pass, but if bottom Sherlock or bottom John is their thing (or Moriarty or Mycroft or Molly or Toby the cat…I’d prefer not to know about it if it’s Toby the cat, no offense), then that’s just how they’re currently wired.  

This is the thing we all need to remember about sexuality.  Again, people don’t get to choose what turns them on.  And that means that criticizing them for it is not telling them that their preferences are bad; it’s telling them that they are bad.

It’s worth reflecting, though, that while ‘bottom’ and ‘top’ are useful in reference to who’s taking what position in any given sexual encounter, in the real world they’re not so useful when it comes to describing the orientations of people.  ’Bottom/top’ the way we use it in fandom is almost entirely a fantasy concept.  (I say ‘almost,’ because with 7 billion people in the world, undoubtedly there’re at least a few who really do identify exclusively as one or the other.)

Dom/sub, now, is probably more accurate, and furthermore touches on the power dynamics that tend to be implicit when people in fandom talk about characters as ‘top’ or ‘bottom.’  Except of course that Dom/sub doesn’t necessarily predicate who’s being penetrated.  Some Dom/mes love taking it.  Some subs don’t like receiving.  And lots of sex acts don’t involve penetration at all.  (I should write more of those.)  And lots of people aren’t into D/s or power dynamics, and then lots of people who are also switch.

I’ve recently begun thinking about this fascination and confusion that exists around these concepts in fandom.  Part of it stems from the influence that has carried over to western fandoms from yaoi, which does typically have strict lines between bottom and top and does, as a genre, treat them as orientations (or, perhaps almost more accurately, as genders?).

But I wonder whether a lot of it is really a women’s issue.  Because in real life, whether you’ve got a vagina or a dick doesn’t necessarily dictate whether you’re on the bottom or the top, dominant or submissive…but in real life, there is a cultural script that says it’s supposed to.

So I’ve begun to wonder whether one of the reasons a lot of straight women are into slash might be because when both of the characters are the same sex—especially when they’re both male—it frees the reader to explore their preferences without it getting twisted up into the expectations of that cultural script.  To be crudely blunt: most men don’t have a fuck-hole, which means that whether they get fucked or not has to do with them as people, rather than their sex.

In which case, it becomes that much nastier to fight with people about their preferences.  Even if my personal opinion on bottomock is ‘blech,’ I’d be a real bitch if I tried to tell other people they shouldn’t like it if it’s what they identify with and what helps them get in touch with their own sexuality.

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