I just had a few more thoughts on the idea of topping/bottoming. Grumpy Granny mentioned in a comment that she'd always thought of topping as something that might occur within an S/M dynamic (to paraphrase GG), something that might occur in conjunction with bondage, for example. This is probably a common perception, very close to accurate, and I held it too for awhile.
It wasn't until I became friends with a few gay men who talked openly about sex to me that I started to understand the concept differently. I'm not a gay man and can't speak for gay men, but what I understood from them is that many gay men identify as either a top or a bottom, ie: they are literally on top (doing the fucking) or on the bottom (getting fucked). Of course, some are switches and some gay men don't like to engage in anal sex at all and prefer to get each other off in other ways.
Talking to those guys, I realized that topping or bottoming doesn't have to occur in the context of some big S/M scene. Around that time, I started using "top" or "bottom" as verbs to describe whether I fucked someone, or whether they fucked me. In that sense, I was also using this language to describe a position only and not a power dynamic.
Now, however, after years of reading up on S/M and a few stabs at experiencing it, I understand these terms (and sex) from a slightly more subtle perspective. S/M, behind all the leather and handcuffs and other cool accoutrements, is about power. The consensual taking and handing over of power during sex. People who practice S/M (or BDSM, if you prefer: Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism), bring the power dynamic inherent and buried in sex up to the surface and explore/exploit it for pleasure.
Many of us ignore that power dynamic and many people (especially lesbians, whose sex can be orchestrated in a very egaletarian manner) can have perfectly yummy sex without ever even feeling a power differential. However, for some of us (maybe lots of us) it's the power differential that adds the spice to sex. It is possible to explore/exploit the power dynamic for sexual pleasure without being "into" S/M in the traditional sense. Mera and I haven't yet bothered to get out the wrist restraints or the leather flogger, yet the power differential is what drives our sexual passion.
Mera would tell you she's a "psychological top." And that's what makes her a true "top," even when she's technically bottoming. I, on the other hand, am *not* a psychological top. So even when I'm fucking Mera, I'm not really "topping" her. Is that confusing? Sorry. I know it sounds convoluted, but it makes sense to me. Mera gets off on control, which makes her a true top, while I get off on being controlled, which makes me a true bottom. Even though we both like to fuck and be fucked, how we experience the power is different.
I may have made the water even more muddy with this explanation, but hopefully what I've said makes sense.
Now let's move on to another interesting, if not a little disturbing, topic: balance (a.k.a. "your-turn-my-turn"). Sometimes, lesbians can fall into a very rigid routine of "I fuck you, now you fuck me." Sometimes this happens naturally: we start making out, we both get really hot, the action moves towards sex and eventually one of us takes over and starts fucking the other, the one getting fucked has an orgasm, everybody's still turned on, the mood stays hot, so the roles reverse and the one who got fucked now fucks the original fucker. That can even go back and forth for awhile.
In my mind, that's the best case scenerio for balanced sex. Worst case scenerio is when the one who originally got fucked feels guilted or pressured into returning the favor when her heart really isn't in it for whatever reason. Here's an example from my own life: I used to have a girlfriend who wanted to have sex a lot more than I did (not so unusual for me, actually). And she figured out the exact right way to seduce my body. Rather than propositioning me head-on, she learned that if she started out offering to tickle my back (which is my favorite thing on the planet, by the way), within minutes I'd be putty in her hands. While I was putty, she would fuck me and then immediately roll over like a dog and wait her turn. I hadn't wanted to have sex, I hadn't wanted to fuck her, but she got me every time and I started to resent her and we eventually broke up.
I personally hate your-turn-my-turn sex. But that's probably because I have a heightened awareness of and interest in the power dynamic. I don't want someone to fuck me just because I fucked them. I'm happy to carry the whole experience, as it were, if that's what feels most comfortable. And I hate to fuck out of obligation. Sometimes you just want to pass out afterwards, not muster up the energy to return the favor.
So what do you guys think? To jump start the discussion, here's a poll. Oh my god do I love these polls. But people, come on! Only a fraction of you are actually participating! What's up??? These polls won't bite, don't worry. And they won't automatically take you to another website, or plant a virus in your computer or send your name and address to a government website or ANYTHING bad. Don't fear the polls, just participate. Practice for November.