Monday, March 07, 2011

The Million Dollar Question (II)


To top or to bottom, that is the question.

"Are you top or bottom?" is a common question gay men ask their partners before or during sex. The label refers to gay men's sexual role preference when it comes to the act of anal intercourse and it is the single most important label you will carry for the rest of your life.

Oh stop cringing people. Sex is amoral, objective, and whether we're talking about a penis inside a vagina or inside an anus, it's human behavior all the same.

I find it very interesting how people label themselves and what these labels concerning sexual roles mean in forming one's identity.

People who derive more pleasure (or perhaps suffer less anxiety or discomfort) from acting as the insertive partner are referred to colloquially as “tops,” whereas those who have a clear preference for serving as the receptive partner are commonly known as “bottoms.”

In a 2003 issue of The Journal of Sex Research, a team of scientists led by Trevor Hart at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta who studied a group of 205 gay male participants found that:

(1) Self-labels are meaningfully correlated with actual sexual behaviors. That is to say, based on self-reports of their recent sexual histories, those who identify as tops are indeed more likely to act as the insertive partner, bottoms are more likely be the receptive partner, and versatiles occupy an intermediate status in sex behavior.

(2) Compared to bottoms, tops are more frequently engaged in (or at least they acknowledge being attracted to) other insertive sexual behaviors. For example, tops also tend to be the more frequent insertive partner during oral intercourse. In fact, this finding of the generalizability of top/bottom self-labels to other types of sexual practices was also uncovered in a correlational study by David Moskowitz, Gerulf Reiger and Michael Roloff. In a 2008 issue of Sexual and Relationship Therapy, these scientists reported that tops were more likely to be the insertive partner in everything from sex-toy play to verbal abuse to urination play.

(3) Tops were more likely than both bottoms and versatiles to reject a gay self-identity and to have had sex with a woman in the past three months. They also manifested higher internalized homophobia — essentially the degree of self-loathing linked to their homosexual desires.

There are men who have sex with men but define themselves as heterosexual. They may reject being the receptive partner in sex as they perceive that role to be gay.

(4) Versatiles seem to enjoy better psychological health. Hart and his coauthors speculate that this may be due to their greater sexual sensation seeking, lower erotophobia (fear of sex), and greater comfort with a variety of roles and activities.

In a separate study by Nick Yee, a research scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center, he found that bottoms prefer older, taller, heavier, hairy men while tops preferred younger, shorter, lighter, smooth men.

Age, height, weight and hairiness are indicators of masculinity and his research suggests that tops seek out sexual partners with less masculine features, while bottoms seek out sexual partners with more masculine features.

Bottoms were also more likely to prefer rough sex, suggesting men who prefer receptive anal intercourse like to be overpowered.

Being top, bottom or versatile can have drastic implications on behavior in sex and even in relationships.

For example, in an article by Moskowitz, Reiger and Roloff, the authors note that prospective gay male couples might want to weigh this issue of sex role preferences seriously before committing to a long term relationship.

From a sexual point of view, there are obvious logistical problems of two tops or two bottoms being in a monogamous relationship. But since these sexual role preferences tend to reflect other behavioral traits (such as tops being more aggressive and assertive than bottoms), “such relationships also might be more likely to encounter conflict quicker than relationships between complementary self-labels.”

Being gay can be tricky. There are plenty of anecdotes of people hooking up and ending up getting frustrated. Some of my friends prefer to be frank and ask the million dollar question right away.

And as for me, a very wise friend of mine once said, "To be successful in the gay world, you must be like Burger King.

Have it your way, sir."

I listened to him and tried it. You know what, he was right.



eon said...

i've since become versatile, and i must confess, it is liberating and gratifying to be both the butch and the bitch. :)

Nishiboy said...

when i came out years ago and one of my friends asked me what my preference was, i said i was probably a bottom. but since then, i have topped a three and a half times, never bottomed, and i have received more blowjobs than i have given. and i now consider myself a top.

so how do i analyze that? identity crisis?

julien hakym said...

now everyone really
hv an overly open mind
n overly an honest..

jayps said...

this made me learn so much. :)

the geek said...

so, what are you kane?

and wearing a headband doesn't make one a bottom...


Spiral Prince said...

Nick Yee was spot on. I'm guilty as charged.

ןıuǝ oɟ ɟןıƃɥʇ said...

it seems to be so painful to live a statistically valid life, which is why i prefer my own individual life.

Herbs D. said...

Lol this is bs.Hahahahha

Eternal Wanderer... said...

kane, you still haven't answered the question!!!


Désolé Boy said...

i sometimes wonder why we have to ask that question. we knew. we always knew if a person is a top or a bottom or versa. i dunno.
so kane. *eherm* what's your answer? haha

iurico said...

I have stopped understanding these research analyses a long time ago. Makes life less stressful.

Kiks said...

i don't know if this applies to Asians as it usually depends on how you perceive sex and you being in it.

sadly, most of the points were only speculated.

kaya todo-sex na lang!

ang mga versa daw ang pinakamatagumpay? kaya pala perfect 10 kami. LOL!

Anonymous said...