Sex Advice From A Fuck-Up: Better With The Lights Off?

Better With the Lights Off by New Boyz is, inexplicably, one of my favorite songs. “I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but you look better with the lights off.” I love how it is at once arrestingly insulting and also, upon further inspection, totally non-controversial. 

Everyone looks better in soft lighting. But there’s a difference between flatteringly dim and fumblingly dark. If stark overhead lighting or, quelle horreur, sunlight streaming in through the windows makes you want to keep your clothes on, let’s take a little journey together. Because afternoon sex is the absolute best: You have plenty of time, you’re not too tired. But ain’t nobody got time for blackout curtains. 

So, how do you get confident enough to bare all in any lighting situation? First, let’s talk about porn. 

Salt-n-pepa

There’s a lot of talk, though probably not enough, about teaching young straight boys (and grown men, unfortunately) that porn is not an instruction manual. What happens in most porn isn’t an accurate reflection of what happens in most sex. Men think they’re learning what women want in bed from porn. But women in straight porn are much more likely to enjoy being handled roughly and giving blow jobs, and get turned on and orgasm faster than women in real life. Treating your sex partners like male performers treat female ones will not yield you the results it yields them. Sorry, boo. 

But not nearly enough attention is paid to how porn differs from real life for straight women as well. Women also think they’re learning what men want in bed from porn. There is one thing that translates from porn to real life for most men. Studies show that the part of a woman’s body men spend the most time looking at when viewing porn is the face. The biggest turn on for men is a woman who’s enjoying herself.

Orgasm

Here’s where what men want in real life differs most from porn. The average porn actress is taller, thinner, younger, and has longer hair than the average woman. Women extrapolate that to mean that these are traits most men prefer. The truth is that these traits are inoffensive. Porn is an industry, meaning that it’s made with ROI in mind. It’s not that all men have a huge lust for a narrow subset of physical attributes. It’s more that few men will turn down a video because it features that physicality. Using actresses with the most mass appeal makes economic sense. Stray from that, and you cut your potential audience down considerably. The other big reason to use a tall, thin, caucasian actress is that they’re the easiest to film. Their bodies contort most easily into the most visually appealing positions and cameras are designed to capture white skin.

But even niche genres are still big money. So you don’t have to look far at all to see a broad array of sizes, ages, hairstyles, shapes, and skin tones.

What men want in real life is far more diverse and interesting than most mainstream porn would indicate.

They’re also far less picky. With porn, looks are about all you have to go on. Acting skills are nice, but secondary. Certainly very little personality, character, intelligence is conveyed. In real life, these attributes constitute far more of the basis for attraction than looks.

The point is this: If you don’t look like a porn star, that doesn’t mean he likes looking at you less.

Man-looking-at-woman

That isn’t to say porn is harmless. Like everything fun, there’s the potential for abuse. And porn, like sex, exists within a patriarchal framework.

But I used to be so threatened by porn actresses, so afraid of being compared and coming up short. It was a great relief to me to start thinking of porn and sex like apples and oranges. In a healthy relationship, it’s not a challenge to, or replacement for, sex. It’s a supplement.

That mind shift can be applied to everyone you might compare yourself to. They are in a different category. They are not your competition. The biggest threat to your sexiness is your own insecurity.

When you have sex are you searching for flaws, comparing your partner to better-looking people? Neither are they. Keep calm, and turn the lights on. Because while you might look better with the lights off, you see better with them on.

 

Photo courtesy of manos_simonides via CC License on Flickr. GIFS from GIFwrapped.

Cathy Reisenwitz is a D.C.-based writer. She is Editor-in-Chief of Sex and the State and her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications. She has been quoted by the New York Times Magazine and has been a columnist at Townhall.com and Bitcoin Magazine. Her media appearances include Fox News and Al Jazeera America. She serves on the Board of Advisors for the Center for a Stateless Society.

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