Is sex pleasurable?

On my Facebook feed, I have a couple of friends that routinely post articles around the theme of women being empowered about sex.

The general idea is that women should be able to enjoy sex and the pursuit of sex without being negatively judged. The argument is that because men can freely pursue sex and still maintain a stellar reputation, in the spirit of equality, women should be able to as well.

Now, I agree that the double standard should go away, but it should probably be reversed. The higher standard should be applied to men, not the lower standard to women.

Anyway, what’s curious to me is that Epicurus was celibate. As a hedonist, you would think he would make the case for sex as one of life’s great pleasures.

Fourth, like Jesus, he avoided sexual contacts but at the same time laid himself open to scurrilous jibes by surrounding himself with female disciples, both free and slave. Epicurus and all true Epicureans took a dim view of man’s most intense and sometimes most painful pleasure, sexual love: “The sophisticated man will not fall in love,” and “Sex never benefited any man, and it’s a marvel if it hasn’t injured him!” Epicurus would have approved the complete wisdom of a recent professorial pronouncement: “I would rather spend an hour in bed with Dickens than with any woman.” – The Art of Happiness

Culturally (American culture anyway), we’re very obsessed with sex. Sex is used to sell gym memberships, clothes, cars, etc.

But what if sex is a distraction from true pleasure and joy? What if this is why many religions seem to have negative attitudes towards sex? If even Epicurus, the hedonist, abstained from sex, maybe we should revisit our attitudes towards the act. The high speed world of modern dating would probably make his head spin! The casual buddy relationships that are prevalent on social media would likely cause him to further his views!

At length, after the mass of lust has erupted in the sinews, there comes a brief pause in passion’s furious heat. But only for a little while , for then the same frenzy returns and madness possesses them once more. In their search to find what it is they really want to achieve they are unable to discover any agent to subdue their sickness; they languish from the wound within, forever confused. – Epicurus

Perhaps then, sex is only superficially pleasurable, and that true joy comes from something deeper and more profound.

I’ll let the makers of Viagra know….

  • Arushi

    I don’t entirely concur here with Epicurean’s view of sex.
    Did you follow this subject during the Hinduism month?
    What about tantric sex?

    Also, I think it remains to be a superficial pleasure in context when you say how American culture is obsessed with sex. I believe when a relationship exists between two people, in that relationship the two people should be not be mindlessly connected to each other, it should be more about spiritually uplifting each other too (with reference to Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now). So if these two people are having sex, then it can’t be plain superficial pleasure.

    • I didn’t do any research into other religions’ take on sex.

      I suspect the issue Epicurus had is that most people’s pursuit of sex is based on sensual needs, rather than spiritual ones. I agree with your point about a good relationship being uplifting. Does sex has to play a part in that? I’m not so sure.

      • Arushi

        why not? is sex necessarily related to superficial pleasure?