In my recent poll, I asked: The stereotype is that, sexually, men are more visual while women are more into story and fantasy. What do you think?
At the time, I felt like I knew what the main answer would be, and I was right. 73% of the respondents said: It's an exaggeration. Men are somewhat more visual, but some women like pictures and some men like stories
What was more interesting to me was how many people would deny (17%) or support the stereotype completely (10%). No one selected the reversed stereotype answer (women are more visual than men).
The 73% answer basically implies that visualization is an important erotic element for both men and women at least part of the time. The 17% flat denial of the stereotype is another pro-visualization answer. Added to the 73%, it takes it up to 90%. Even in that last 10%, I don't know how many respondents were men and guessing what women think so a part of that could be inaccurate.
So, if visualization is such a powerful factor in eroticism, what does that mean to me as an author of erotic fiction? To me, it means that a good sex scene is not just about relationship circumstances, predicaments, describing how characters feel about each other, etc. I should also make sure that the right elements are there for readers to paint their own mental images. A visual approach to description in general would seem to be the preferred approach. Feelings, predicaments and characters would build from there--and this seems true for both men and women.
Am I being "Captain Obvious?" Maybe, but the idea that visualization is the primary foundation for all erotic works does not seem to be obvious.