Monday, January 16, 2012

Review Time!

Bottoms In Love by Gregory Allen

This slick story by Gregory Allen intrigued me as soon as I heard about it. Thankfully, the author delivers a package which lives up to the promise of the premise. It comes down to a question that's simple to ask, but that has many layers: what is a couple to do when they're both submissive?

For Carter and Lindsey, the answer is to take turns as dominant. Their roles on any given night are determined by the flip of a coin. The obviating nature of the selection process brought to mind Luke Rhinehart's classic "The Dice Man".

Lindsey and Carter seem to have a brilliantly symbiotic relationship. Even when dominating, they're arguably submitting. Indeed, the author tackles the issue of what domination truly is by giving us characters so averse to dominating. By accepting the role as dominant, as predicated by fate and the expectations of their partner, is that person actually being submissive?

As a male myself, I found that Carter's more pronounced reticence rang true. As it should be, the physical side is only a part of the dominance factor in the relationship. Consent is clearly given here, and the rough physicality is, in fact, beautifully layered. But it cannot be escaped that, for good reasons, society takes a very dim view of a man raising his hand to a woman. Carter's desire to be a good husband complements his natural submissive tendencies, all of which creates a poignant internal battle when it's his turn to dominate.

Though Lindsey is also a reluctant dom, it's interesting that she appears to have a greater ability to dissociate. I found this element actually served to normalize the relationship. It implied a slight power imbalance in the couple's relationship. This imbalance also shows up in glimpses when Lindsey acts as submissive; occasional small flashes of insolence or giddiness which Carter chooses not to punish.

But for me, there is a small passage which sums up the nature of this story perfectly. Carter, having given Lindsey her pleasure, expresses doubt over his effectiveness as a dom. He confesses that he only does to Lindsey what he would wish her to do to him.

Her reply, in context, expresses the heart of the story: "That's exactly how I do it."

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