11. When engaged in sexual activity do you prefer the:
(A) lights on, or
(B) lights off?
This is another one of those questions where an almost reciprocating difference between male and females emerge. 75% of the men and 35% of the women responded that they prefer the lights on. The flip side is that 25% of the men and 65% of the women want the lights off. There are two ways to look at this question – one is in the light of body image and how we feel when we look in the mirror and what looks backs – and the other way is by the assignment of gender roles with regards to masculinity and femininity.
Body image issues plague many people, especially since our culture has reinforced over and over again what is “the ideal image” that we should be striving to be. The message is not about accepting you as you are but that you are flawed and need to look a certain way. I think the messages are much harder on women than men and as a result we could interpret the results of this question that many women prefer to keep their images in the dark. We need to learn to accept our image as is and not compare it to a static moment in time that photographs represent and assign an unrealistic ideal that we should be striving for, i.e. young, slim, fit and built.
The other way to interpret this question is through the view that “men are visual” and of course they would need the lights on to see. I think that this way of thinking about the preference for men to be visual gets back to Zilbergeld [The New Male Sexuality] belief that boys come into their sexuality around the three prongs of secrecy, privacy and impersonality. Boys do not make the connection that the sex is about relationships and there is no one pushing that agenda either, with many parents being uncomfortable talking about sex with their children and the lack of a healthy education regarding sex in our school systems.
I would encourage you to have a pleasurable, fun and intimate conversation with your partner about this question. It could be very interesting to discover how and why your partner answered the way she or he did. Besides, it is a great way to grow closer and deepen your connection with each other.