Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Service Tops

I can't remember when I first heard the term Service Top, but when I first heard it I was sure it was an oxymoron.

Once I understood the concept, I started seeing service Tops all over the place in BDSM romance. And why not? A Dom who takes care of his submissive? Feeds her, cherishes her, clothes her. She's his, and he takes care of what belongs to him. I've seen it described in similar ways to the way a man would take care of a Ferrari -- make sure it gets the best gas, the best oil, the best tires, oil changes when needed, other tune ups on schedule. But he also won't hesitate to drive it fast, to corner hard, to make use of it in extreme ways. Well, that doesn't sound so romantic, after all. Maybe I should stick with human analogies.

Fiction is in large part there for the fantasy, and what better fantasy than the man who knows your every need, and finds a way to fill those needs? Had a bad day? Here's a glass of wine and your favorite food.  You need an escape? Sure, let's go downstairs and flog you into subspace, then I'll hold you until you fall asleep.

I think I need an example here, so I'll use Beyond Eden: Danny is the ultimate Service Top. Given the choice, he wouldn't take things as far with Paul as he does, but he knows he's giving Paul what he needs, so he does it. He cooks for both Paul and Eve, he watches out for both of them. He takes care of both of them, but there is no doubt he's the Dom in the relationship, either.

In my own life, my husband does a great deal of the cooking. And yes, if I call him on the way home to let him know I've had a rough day, the odds are there will be comfort food cooking when I walk in the door. But the idea of calling him a service top just seems wrong. I can't go there, even though there is no doubt that he takes care of me as much as I take care of him.

I think I can appreciate all kinds of BDSM relationships - written properly the Master/slave relationship can be just as intriguing as the Dom/cherished sub relationship. And having the Dom cook and care for his submissive in no way means he can't still humiliate and hurt and objectify her when the fancy strikes him to do so. You know, assuming they've agreed he can do that.

Do you have a preference over a Dom who has his slave take care of him versus a Dom who goes out of his way to take care of his submissive?


  1. I always thought that a Service Top was someone who let his sub "top from below," which is different from a Dom taking care of his sub. Maybe?

    When I read your description above, I immediately thought of "the top" from Nine and a Half Weeks. He did everything for Elizabeth, but I'd never call him a Service Top. To answer your question, I prefer a Dom who takes care of his sub.

    ~ Diana

  2. I don't have a preference. I like to understand what type of relationship the characters are in. I also like to know the reasons for their choices. That is especially true when the couple chooses a more extreme option. Actually, I had never heard the term service top before. Thanks for the info.

  3. "Top" is a role in the context of a scene rather than in an ongoing relationship. The term often used for a caregiving, nurturing dominant is "Daddy." In Daddy-girl (or boy) relationships service is often mutual. However, the Daddy maintains control of the situation, determining what, when, and how of his (or her - Daddy does not need to be gender defined) service to his submissive charge.

  4. There really aren't any official definitions, so most of what we're all doing is just trying to find labels, trying to define WIITWD in some way.

    To me, a Service Top and a Daddy are two different animals. The relationships are totally different. I can see the similarities, of course, but in my mind there are different definitions.

    Just as, in my mind, a Dom who allows topping from the bottom is a weak Dom. But that's probably in part because I dumped the Doms who allowed it before I finally met my husband. I needed someone I could respect, so someone who couldn't see my manipulations -- someone I could top without him realizing he was being topped... it didn't work for me.

    But, as I said, there is no official BDSM dictionary, so however we all choose to define these things, if it works for us then it's the right way for us to define them.

    Some terms have been used in the same way long enough that the definitions are fairly standard, but I don't think this is one of them. That might be a good subject for another blog post -- the terms that have pretty much solidified.