Social Question

tinyfaery's avatar

Do heterosexuals identify with the sexual terms of "top" and "bottom"?

Asked by tinyfaery (40307points) July 30th, 2009

In gay relationships, both male and female, people often refer to themselves as being a “top” or a “bottom”. A top usually means the dominant one, the penetrator, the one who gives the pleasure. A bottom is the submisive one, the one who get’s penetrated, or the one that is pursued.

I see these terms as stemming from the fact that gay relationships do not typically follow gender norms. But, many heterosexuals do not conform to gender roles either.

Do heteros use these terms? Do you know someone who does? Do you? Why? For what reason?

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44 Answers

barumonkey's avatar

Yes, for preferred positions.

syz's avatar

(Don’t forget about heterosexuals who practice BDSM – although some prefer Dom/Domme or sub.)

Likeradar's avatar

I’ve never met any straight people who use those terms. (Aside from “I like to be on top”)

marinelife's avatar

No. Not as someone is a top or a bottom.

fireinthepriory's avatar

I’ve heard of this! I have a friend who’s a straight girl who’s a “top” and refers to herself thusly. Last I knew she was dating a friend of a friend (I think he was bisexual) who referred to himself as a “bottom” so I guess it worked out well for them. I’m not 100% sure what they were referring to when using those terms. But I think, from knowing them both, that they were using “top” and “bottom” in terms of penetration.

Chongalicious's avatar

“Exhibit A”:
yes, we do. as @barumonkey said, ir’s all about the preferred position for heterosexuals…not about dominance.

Also, can anyone tell me how in the world to make that link look better? I was trying to make the words “Exhibit A” the link…but I’m not sure how =(

wundayatta's avatar

I kind of figure that “top” and “bottom” refer to standard heterosexual roles. As if homosexuals are imitating the hetero-normative experience. Since it’s generally taken for granted the roles that men and women play in a het relationship, there’s little need for the terms, with the possible exception of sado-masochistic play.

cookieman's avatar

I think only as appropriated from homosexuals we may know – and then partially in jest.

Personally, I refer to myself as a “top-sub”. I am often confused in bed.

dpworkin's avatar

Experimenting with power-balance issues is not restricted to homosexuals. Nor are most other sexual practices. It’s just that homosexuals who are comfortable and out are more like to be adventurous than the average White middle-class person.

lloydbird's avatar

At school (1970’s England), the term was used amongst adolescent boys (myself included) to solicit details about a friends amorous encounter with a girl, as in – Did you get ‘Top or Bottom?’. ‘Top’ was a reference to breasts, while ‘Bottom’ was a reference to…..well, you know!!

tiffyandthewall's avatar

@Chongalicious i think you just have to remove the space between the : and the http.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Yup. always keeping an eye open for the treasured switch

Chongalicious's avatar

OH, crap…now the link to edit my response is hiding from me…Olley Olley Oxenfree?
Nope, still won’t appear!
Exhibit A
Woot! I’ve got it now, haha thanks =)

PapaLeo's avatar

I never heard these terms until I saw “Sopranos” and Janice was explaining to Tony her relationship with Ralph Cifaretto, “He’s a top that plays bottom.” Or something like that. Me, straight as they come (but with a 53% gay rating from Gay-O-Meter”), was totally, “Huh? . . . What?”

fireinthepriory's avatar

@PapaLeo Hahaha, I’ve never seen the “Gay-O-Meter” before! It’s hysterical. I just took it and it told me I’m 40% gay and “How does a straight acting girl manage to get a date? Any more girlie and you’d have to be straight! :)”

PapaLeo's avatar

@fireinthepriory It’s a great conversation starter at parties. “So . . . still wearing the leather pants, I see . . . ”

Likeradar's avatar

@pdworkin “It’s just that homosexuals who are comfortable and out are more like to be adventurous than the average White middle-class person.”

You think that’s really true, or do you think that it’s just talked about more publicly with gay people?

dpworkin's avatar

I’m not sure. I do think that a lot of plain-vanilla hetero people like me are no strangers to the concept of “Topping from the Bottom”. I just don’t talk about it as freely.

Jeruba's avatar

I recognize them and know hetero people who do use them. In those cases it has to do with BDSM and not sexual orientation.

dpworkin's avatar

No BDSM in my case.

Chongalicious's avatar

I just found out my cat is ‘60% Gay’...

CMaz's avatar

The terms of “top” and “bottom” are a homosexual (gay male) deligation or possition.

Facade's avatar

Not that I know of.

jamielynn2328's avatar

Well, I haven’t heard of the terms used hetero either, and from the personal experience I’ve had, dominant/submissive roles can be interchanged in the bedroom.

I asked my BF, who is a gay male and he said that same goes for homosexuals. Although top and bottom is a common term, many couples switch back and forth.

dynamicduo's avatar

In my experience the terms top and bottom are generally used by gay people, whereas dominant and submissive are used by straight people. Gay people use the latter as well, but in my experience straight people never use top and bottom to describe sexual dominance.

Jack79's avatar

No, because it’s assumed that male is “top” and female is “bottom” as you put it. Though this does not apply either in the psychosocial side of the relationship (where the woman more often than not will have the upper hand), nor in the actual sexual act, where, as homosexuals also know, two bodies become one and twirl all over the place, constantly moving and changing positions. I’ve never thought of myself or my girlfriend as “top” or “bottom”. I just try to make things work and have an honest and balanced relationship.

casheroo's avatar

Other than saying “I like to be on top: I’ve never heard that term

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities omg, love that scene! That was literally played out with gay men and my husband, one said my husband would be a bear and the other said something completely different (I forget the term, i’d never heard it before) Hysterical!

nikipedia's avatar

I’ve heard them used in the context of heterosexual S&M sex. Top = dominant, bottom = submissive.

girlofscience's avatar

I never knew that lesbians identified as the top/bottom. I thought that was only gay men.

ShanEnri's avatar

I thought those terms were only used for S&M! I’m hetero and don’t use them, but I’ve been married for 18 years too so the latest terms of endearment are not in my sex talk!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I am pretty sure I hate these terms for any sexuality – they never actually identify what happens and if they do, then your sex life is pretty predictable and you might want to change it up

tinyfaery's avatar

Bull dykes might beg to differ with you, S de B.

girlofscience's avatar

@tinyfaery: I was under the impression that while gay-male couples typically had a preferred choice (the penetrator or the receiver), lesbian couples tended to perform the same acts on each other equally. Is this not correct?

tinyfaery's avatar

Butch and Femme. Some adhere strongly to these roles. Some would describe themselves as a top or a bottom. Some lesbians do not like to be penetrated.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tinyfaery well sure plenty of people will
it’s just an opinion that identifying yourself into a rigid sexual role is limiting
it’s limiting to me and to my partner and to many people I know
and ‘not being penetrated’ doesn’t mean, to me at least, that a person is not dominant
i suppose i much prefer fluid definitions

tinyfaery's avatar

If you don’t want people to judge your sexuality, don’t judge others. You don’t know what has contributed to someone’s sexual preferences.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

whether or not I want people to judge my sexuality is irrelevant to this question
and I am not telling people not to use these labels, just saying I don’t like their usage

tinyfaery's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You said “then your sex life is pretty predictable and you might want to change it up.” I’d call that a judgment.

And if we want to talk irrelevancy to the question, you didn’t answer it. You just gave your opinion.

prude's avatar

@PapaLeo lol, I am 53% as well
(I wouldn’t have ever guessed)


Only for sexual positioning during sex. I’m top.

HungryGuy's avatar

Yes, heterosexual people are into D/s just as much as homosexual people.

Jude's avatar


Very much a lesbian here and very much a top. I prefer it that way, and it works for my partner, as welI. Occasionally, I’ll be the submissive one, but, I don’t off as strongly as I do when I’m the top.

In previous relationships, though, I was the bottom. I preferred older women and loved to be dominated. Now that I am older, that has changed.

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