Earlier, I talked about what makes a brat a brat, and what makes a bottom not a brat, but just a really badly behaved bottom. Now, to understand the shades of difference, the subject I’m exploring in this post is SAMs, TFTB, and TFTM.
SAMs, aka Smart Ass Masochists, Sammies, and those I like to call “the beat the hell out of me and who cares what you want” bottoms. (BTHOM) may, or may not, be brats. I personally tend to use these terms interchangeably, but others use SAM to describe bratting. Whatever term you use, please be aware that being a Sammie or a Brat is NOT the same as being a BTHOM.
The "beat the hell out of me" bottoms are attention seeking bottoms, but this isn't the kind of behavior I typically mean when I use the term Brat. I tend to think of those bottoms as masochistic tops.... or smart ass masochists. They’re generally self-serving and have their own agendas. They don’t want a power exchange, but instead want to be in strict control of their own pleasure. However, there are some people who find the word "brat" to be offensive and instead prefer the term "SAM". If that describes you, then please, by all means, substitute whatever term your comfortable using. In this post, the term Beat the Hell out of Me Bottom is being used to describe undesired Brat behavior, not as an offense to those who prefer one term over another. I haven't any wish to get into a debate over which term is correct. I am strictly using SAM/BTHOM as MY descriptor of those bottoms who are pushy, rude, uncompromising bottoms. So tops, take note: if your brat is calling him/herself a SAM, you might want to take a step back and see if they're engaging in what I call Brat behaviors and are just using a different word to describe it.
Since brats usually are also attention-seekers, how does being a BTHOM bottom differ from being a Brat?
BTHOM's challenge doms by doing things to purposefully cause the top to engage in punishment for the bottoms benefit and not to share in the energy or power exchange that happens in a submissive/dominant relationship. BTHOM's get off on the pain, the punishment, the physical sensation and the humiliation they try to make their tops feel. They tend to annoy doms, push them, and goad them into punishment for their own benefit. They are masochists, not submissives, and they bottom to get their masochism fed. They may be smart assed, but their behavior is designed purposefully to get a negative reaction from their top.
Brats usually feel that a punishment is the very last thing they’d want...even if they are also masochists. Punishment isn’t the goal of a brat. The goal is to make the top want to funishment you. Spankings as punishment, I’m sure we can all agree, differ in tone and emotion from those given as a funishment.
BTHOM's want to be punished and they rarely care about the collateral damage to the scene. They will do anything in order to push the buttons of their tops and seem to lack the ability to do that give and take that a brat does naturally.
In more simplistic terms, a brat wants a smile from their top, a BTHOM wants their top to make them smile.
Brats don’t mind being controlled. They know that they’re probably going to lose any control battle that they enter into with their top. Brats just want the appearance and chance in a million to gain the upper hand...but they don’t truly want it or expect it. Tops know that with their brats, there’s always that one thing, that one word, one look, that can switch the brattykins off.
But a BTHOM wants to control their top. They direct the action and the seek the attention in the form of physical sensation. And directing the action, brings me to Topping from the Bottom.
Topping from the Bottom isn’t Brat Behavior
Brats do not Top from the Bottom (TFTB). No really, we don’t. The very LAST thing that bratty submissive bottoms want to do is top their dom. Unfortunately, with doms that aren’t expecting or used to brats, it looks a lot like TFTB. Until they see the difference.
This can be best shown by the following example:
You’ve got your bottom tied to a Saint Andrew’s cross, their naked backside is just waiting for you to begin your singletail session. They’re anticipating the sting of the whip and getting prepared to feel the heat and tingling that happens when contact is made. You take aim and let the whip fly...anticipating a nice welt on your bottom’s back, maybe an ouchy sound...or a wiggle or yelp from your bottom. But you’ve miscalculated the distance and the first strike barely makes contact with your bottom’s...uhm bottom. The Brat will smile....peek over her shoulder...and say “You could get a better aim if I could move a little closer, want me to”? And if they were really top-notch brats, they’d do it while wiggling out of the ties at the same time.
A bottom engaging in TFTB would turn to the top and say “hey...I said to do it harder and only on my shoulders, what do you mean by hitting me on the ass...don’t you know what the fuck you’re doing?”
Being sassy and teasing, flirting, laughing and making jokes about things is brat behavior. To tell a top how they’re doing it wrong is TFTB. Unless they really are doing it wrong, in which case TFTB shouldn’t be used, but a safeword should.
When Daddy asks me “so did princess get enough spankings”, and I respond with “I don’t think so...I can still sit”...I’m bratting, not TFTB.
How much of a brat someone can be before TFTB happens is really up to the top. It is up to the top to establish the limits of what a brat is allowed for leeway, and it is up to the top to stop things from degenerating into a power control struggle with the bottom. The top must decide how much to allow before putting a stop to it and giving the brat either what she is asking for or what she actually deserves.
And even though Daddy really loves what he calls compliance play, I really think that if Daddy wanted someone who just did everything he told her to without a smile and well-chosen tease or flirt or just agreed or went along with what he said all the time he'd be bored. I think he needs a brat sometimes to keep him engaged and his brain working with coming up with delicious tortures for me. Bratting is him playing with me and me playing back with him. Exchanging laughter and with it, the energy that comes from having a marvelous time.
But even despite the best of intentions, sometimes bottoms know more than their tops. So this is one of the times where Topping from the Middle comes into play.
Topping from the Middle
Topping from the Middle is a phrase that Daddy first used with me a few months ago. I can sometimes be in such a non-submissive headspace, that it takes me a while to figure out how to put my alpha self away and be his submissive. During the time where I’m not “quite submissive” and yet never truly dominant with Daddy, I end up Topping from the Middle.
This is another form of brat behavior that happens when “you know something that he doesn’t”. Whether it’s that the form of play isn’t working out, or whether some problem is happening that your top isn’t aware of.
Topping from the middle differs in tone from TFTB in that it's not exactly "telling your top" how to do something, but that "there’s a problem you're experiencing" with what he/she is doing and you'd like to make them aware of it. Topping from the Middle is also very useful when you've done something your top hasn't done before and needs ongoing feedback, or when it's a newer top and you're the more experienced one.
For example, when Daddy and I started playing with whips, I noticed that he'd seem to always end up striking the same three inches on one part of my shoulder. I halted a scene and explained what I was feeling. He thought about it for a second but couldn’t figure out what was going wrong. Was I too short? Was he not standing in the proper position? Was his depth perception off? The only way to find out was to do something drastic. He put baby powder all over my back and the "scene" turned into an exploration of what was going wrong. Did I top from the bottom? No, I topped from the middle. He's a caring top that puts a high price on my wisdom and experience and knew that I wouldn't have said something had it not been preventing me from enjoying his work. And we figured out the problem together.
To me, TFTM is brat behavior at it’s finest. Brats can help their tops by using well-chosen remarks, odd ideas, and silliness to fix problems on the fly. In the same example above, had I chosen instead to whine, suck it up, or even to safeword, we’d never have figured out the problem and I’d have probably ended up really hating whips or being a little distrustful of Daddy with them. Being able to turn and say....hey “I have another shoulder on the other side you know, Daddy” made him aware of a problem, bratted him enough to know that he was doing something that wasn’t working, without making him feel like shit.
I do care about pleasing my top, in the sense that I want him to have as much fun as I do. The bratty part shows up as enjoying the chance to be playfully mischievous, in a way that both makes him smile and makes him want to spank me more. Brattiness can also be a flirty kind of teasing. But it never is a teasing designed to make your top feel like anything less than being firmly in control. Daddy wants me to have fun...even when he's being Mr. Mean Sadistic Bastard. Brats give back more than they take...even if giving back gets them into a load of trouble sometimes.
Brats can employ many tools to make things work for both people. The best one is the ability to laugh.
Next Up: Specific Types of Brat Behavior: Are all Loopholes Created the Same?