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Tops and Bottoms: The Limitations and Dangers of Using Hetero-normative Labels for Men Who Have Se

The labels “Top” and “Bottom” within the men who have sex with men (MSM) community may be a great filtering tool for hook ups, and anonymous sex. However, the limits and dangers of using those labels outweigh the benefits. These outdated heteronormative concepts value “Tops” over “Bottoms”, limits the definition of sex to only value penetration, encourage assumptions and discourage communication, supports sexual assault and rape and can lead to violence. Increasing one’s identity to more than just a “Top” or “Bottom” can teach men who have sex with men to value all people regardless of their sexual desires, communicate better with their sex partners, thus decreasing sexual assault, rape and other violence, and increase their own sexual gratification.

Top, Bottom, and Versatile, Oh My!

In 1948, Alfred Kinsey studied human sexuality and postulated that the missionary position was coined by the people of the South Pacific. There, missionaries tried to convert the natives to Christianity and wanted them to also adopt a way of having sex. The preferred way, according to the missionaries included inserting the penis into the vagina with the man on top and the women on the bottom. The man on top allowed him to have more control or power over his female partner and it was assumed that he would initiate the sexual encounter. The locals thought it strange to be prescribed only one way to have intercourse between a man and a woman and named this position after the missionaries.