Imagine this: your female hero and her male love interest have made it through their story, saved the world, and realized their feelings for each other. There’s a dramatic moment of intimacy and love. They’re overtaken by passion, and she takes out a strap-on and tops him.
Instantly, it’s kinky. Right away, she becomes a character who thinks and cares about sex more than she “should,” even if she wasn’t before. By necessity, it impacts her character. Why? Probably because she’s assumed the bottom until proven otherwise, and being otherwise marks her as different. Because straying from the bottom “default” role takes forethought. Maybe it’s the addition of a sex toy that does it, but imagine instead of using a strap-on she simply fingerfucks her male love interest. Still kinky, right? What if she just uses her hand on his cock and the other hand on herself? Then maybe it’s not kinky, but it’s also not a very dramatic first time sex scene between the lovers. It might not be considered “sex” at all.
I think it’s the penetrative role, because there are certainly fictional women who have personalities I can imagine making them “in charge,” in the sense that they’re still being penetrated but they’re dominant in some way, maybe in terms of sexual position or the control of the situation. I think there’s a certain amount of acceptance of that—at least, my mind can comprehend such a scenario without a necessary change in character. And that’s really cool. Maybe I shouldn’t care so much about the mechanics of it and I’m too hooked up on my own preferences. But why shouldn’t the position reversal be plausible? Why can’t it be? If sex is about pleasure and intimacy, there’s nothing unnatural about a woman fucking her boyfriend.
If the character is shown to be preoccupied with sex, dominant, and maybe contemporary in thinking, it might be possible. But for everyone else, topping seems out of character. Because women in fiction never do, and so it feels unnatural. It’s a horrible cycle. You never see it, so you never can see it. Even when the matter is left completely open—even when all sex and relationship roles are left as a blank slate—I simply can’t envision it.
So what’s the result? When it’s not even an imaginative possibility, the stigma on topping cannot change at all. It continues to be an outlying case. Pegging as anything more than a fun roleplay doesn’t exist. And quite simply, that bugs me a lot.