Dear Mr. Sexsmith:
Being a butch top in bed, I have a confusing relationship with my man boobies, but the girl I’m sleeping with loves them. I don’t. When she wants to take my bra off, I feel nervous, therefore making me less top-confident. What do I do?
— Butch Top
Dear Butch Top:
You asked this question a few weeks ago now, and I’ve been chewing on it ever since, because I (and my girlfriend) have a similar relationship to my own “man boobies”— though I prefer to call that region of my body my chest.
Which, I suppose, is one of the first things I’d suggest: to find some language about what to call that are of your body that you feel comfortable with. Maybe you feel comfortable with “man boobies,” but I have a feeling that phrase is intended to make fun of it a little bit.
I think there’s a perceived dissonance between breasts and masculinity that can frequently cause us to feel in conflict with our body parts, not to mention that many of us have some gender dysphoria around the parts of our bodies that are traditionally female and feminine. In my opinion part of the butch identity is explicitly about masculinity in a woman, masculinity on a female body, masculinity in someone assigned female at birth, and inherently in that definition is the existence of some sort of breasts. Sure, it is possible to be butch and still explore top surgery or daily binding or a stone sexuality which disallows or controls touch — but the existence of breasts is part of the identity of butch, in my opinion.
What you do with these parts and how you reconcile your own sense of conflict in that identity is yours to wrestle with, and I do understand that there can often be some wrestling that happens there. There certainly is for me.
However, you weren’t necessarily asking about reconciling your gender identity and body parts, you were speaking more practically about what to do with this tension of your girlfriend loving your breasts and your uncertainty around playing with them in bed.
First: If you are uncomfortable with being touched on any part of your body, I would absolutely encourage you to play around with saying no and not being touched there. It might be that simple. It might not matter so much if it’s something that your girlfriend loves, because you hate it, and that’s that.
But then again, it might be an interesting experiment to use some of her love and reverence to allow yourself to be touched there. You mentioned that having your top off makes you less top-confident, so that’s a place to brainstorm and suggest some experiments.
My girlfriend, too, is very fond of my breasts, but I am conflicted about them, mostly because of their size (34DD). They get in the way. I rarely fuck without a binder on, almost purely because I don’t like how much they move around. So if I’m strapped on and having sex, that will almost never be a time when I am topless.
But since my girlfriend is really into it, and since I am curious and willing to be explored, it might be possible to do some experiments where she gets to touch with her hands or mouth — in other contexts aside from while we’re fucking. To be honest (and personally revealing), we do this very little. She has some guilt about how much she likes my breasts and how that conflicts with my ambivalent feelings about them, therefore she doesn’t put forth her desires to touch them very often, if at all. When she doesn’t push and ask and get permission from me, I don’t ask for it, because it’s not something I would seek out — but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to explore and experiment, on occasion. I am.
If that’s true for you, it might be worth noting to your girlfriend that it’s not something you will seek out, but you are game to explore it if she makes her desires clear enough. For me, I know my girl might have to ask (beg, cajole, plead) in order for me to feel convinced enough to put myself into that vulnerable position with her. If that’s also true for you, you might want to be sure to remember to tell her that.
What are the times or situations where you could let her explore a little bit without losing your top confidence? If it was me, I would do it separately from the moments where I am topping. I might stand up next to her while she’s sitting on the bed and let her explore with her hands and mouth. I might lie down and ask her to straddle my hips. That’s not to say that I would stop being in control — and, in fact, if you start feeling less confident or less like a top while her mouth or hands are exploring your chest, you might want to interject some control or commands, adding back in that dynamic to remind you that you’re in charge here. She could be handcuffed behind her back, on her knees, exploring only with her mouth, for example. You could say, “Only use your lips. Now stick your tongue out and only use your tongue. Only use your hands. Do you want your mouth on my chest? Ask me. Ask nicely. Ask again. Say please.” That might help maintain your top confidence.
Generally, when someone clearly gets my gender identity and still wants to explore my breasts, it hasn’t been a problem to allow that to happen. That doesn’t mean that I love it — but I don’t mind. At the same time, I have some difficulty with this section of my body, and if I’m being really honest with myself (and with you) I’d say that I just don’t find my chest attractive or beautiful. But that’s the amazing thing about being with someone who thinks that it is attractive: it feels good to hear and feel their desire and appreciation. And when I am really seen, my skin and my body and my gender and all of who I am, I not only feel attractive and beautiful, I even feel handsome.