What is the difference between a Dominant and a Top? Is there a need to make the distinction? Isn’t everyone a Top or Dominant?
It is important to understand and make the distinction between a Dominant and a “Top”. The two are not the same!
The definition for a “Top” comes from the Gay community and basically referred to the “giver” from a sexual standpoint; the person who performed the penetration. The “bottom” was the “receiver”.
As the Gay Leather community intermixed with the straight BDSM community, the term Top/bottom was adopted within the BDSM straight culture. The use of Top/bottom then came to signify someone giving or receiving.
A “Top” is not necessarily a Dominant or Master/Mistress. However someone acting as the “Top” can be dominant over others yet be submissive to their Master/Mistress. There is a hierarchy in BDSM. If someone is constantly “topping” and then is submissive to another, they are basically your Switch.
To further add a twist to the possibilities, a slave can “Top” someone—for instance another slave or submissive because that person doesn’t have a Dominant of their own. In this case, the slave/sub doing the “topping” is “being of service” to the other person. This does not make the person topping a Dominant. It just means they were being “toppy” at that time.
Yes, I know that it might seem a little convoluted when you try to address all the nuances in the BDSM lifestyle.
People call & identify themselves in the manner which resonates with them most.
The bottom line is that there are only three main personalities within the hierarchy of BDSM: the Dominant, the submissive or slave, and the Switch.