Navigating the Switch

Sexual Roles & Identities

Issue #29

By Vivienne Arkell

A heated discussion about men and dominance in the bedroom really got me thinking about perceived gender roles – especially when it comes to sex. My friend Anne dates women, but we both agree that anything goes in the bedroom as long as it’s consensual, safe, and both parties enjoy themselves. It doesn’t matter what equipment the bodies possess. Yet we wondered, how many of us trap ourselves into roles based on what we perceive to be feminine or masculine?

The conclusion was something non-heterosexuals have been enjoying for years – we should all be switching things up! Lesbians and gay men regularly switch between being the top/bottom, butch/fem, pursuer/receiver, active/passive, dominant/submissive or whatever other terms you might like. Leslie Graydon PhD says “a switch is someone who shifts between roles, desires, identities or ways of being in the realms of gender and/or sexuality.” Had I gotten so stuck in being mainly straight that I couldn’t pitch and catch?

It had all started because my new lover wanted me to try a dominant role. Not in the 50 Shades D/s way– I didn’t need to use extreme commands, anal toys, whips, or ropes on him. He just wanted me to ‘top’ him, desire him, and take total control. Why did that seem so bold for him to ask? Why was I so caught up in typical male sexual roles, for example “Who’s the man?” Isn’t being versatile and open in bed a way of life for The Sensualogist and fellow sensualists?

Sexual identities and roles originated to help us find like-minded people to get naked with in our lives. Yet do they also tend to limit us in the bedroom? Where do we get the idea that being receptive and submissive to sensual pleasure is solely a feminine trait? Is submission more ladylike? It seems that’s just what we’ve been taught and so old habits are hard to break. But it’s time to switch roles.

With my lover, it wasn’t going to be that hard for me to actually assume the ‘Dom’ identity. I would gladly throw him on the bed and passionately take him, pulling his tight tush and muscular, luscious thighs against mine. If you do find the forward approach intimidating, maybe warm up to dominance with role play. Romping as the masked aggressor, you can laugh together if anything goes haywire. If you haven’t already, consider switching up traditional roles.

Honor all sides of your sexuality. Mutual trust during physical intimacy should allow for vulnerability and curiosity about our needs and desires. Remember, women aren’t the only ones trying to find the sexual role or behavior that suits them best. Give your lover a break. Does anyone really want to be in charge all the time?

Free yourself from classic roles, identities, and ideas that were deemed only masculine or feminine. Switch it up! Take charge, initiate intimacy, and play the role of pursuer. Your partner will love submitting to being uncontrollably desired.




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