Here’s What We Can Learn From Ted Cruz and His Alleged Viewing of ‘Mommy Porn’

Former Presidential hopeful and Republican Senator Ted Cruz made national headlines last week when it was discovered that he (or someone using his Twitter account) was viewing pornographic material on the social media site. The material in question has been described as “low quality mommy porn,” and it featured explicit scenes of a teenage girl, her boyfriend, and the girl’s mother. He has since pinned the blame on a staffer, saying it was not him who liked the pornographic material.

Pretty shocking, especially for a conservative man such as Cruz, who once fought to make the sale of sex toys illegal in his state. In the brief presented to the Supreme Court, Cruz and his team argued, “There is no substantive-due-process right to stimulate one’s genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship.”

As far as Cruz was concerned, using a sex toy is no different than hiring a sex worker or being a bigamist, as he compared using a sex aid to “hiring a willing prostitute or engaging in consensual bigamy.”

Okay, we can all see the hypocrisy given the recent allegations against him in this ridiculous judgment against masturbation. Never mind that we all have the right to masturbate. You can even ignore the fact that a healthy sex life has been shown to have innumerable physical and emotional benefits, and that many women need additional stimulation from sex aids to reach orgasm (along with people who have illnesses or other mobility issues that make traditional intercourse impossible).

As a couples and sex therapist who has worked with countless couples over the years, I think it is unconscionable to compare a woman using a vibrator to prostitution. A vibrator is not a person. Using a sex aid in the bedroom does not turn you and your partner into bigamists. It is a sex aid, an aid which has proven medical benefits and an aid which can help save relationships and promote positive sexual experiences for adults of all ages.

But, though one might be tempted to roll our eyes at him (trying to ban people from buying sex toys, while allegedly watching porn himself late at night), I can’t help but feel sympathy for this man. Why? Because people like Cruz (and so many others) who were raised to view sexual desires as bad or dirty are fighting a losing battle against themselves. We see it time and time again. The most conservative politicians, the ones who are the most outspoken against sexual pleasure and sexual freedom, are the ones who are always caught with their hand in the cookie jar…or in this case, the porn jar.

Is this because they are liars, hypocrites, or something worse? I don’t think so. I believe that in his heart, Cruz does believe in conservative values and wishes to espouse an anti-sex conservative message to others. He means what he says. As do most conservative politicians who have been found straying from their marriages or even living a conservative heterosexual marriage in public while having homosexual affairs in secret.

I think what it comes down to is this: People who run away from their sexual urges and try to cram them down with shame, self-hatred and judgment become slaves to these desires. They aren’t managing their urges but simply white-knuckling it through the day, hating themselves every time they ‘mess up’ and feel an urge or have a sexual fantasy that they deem ‘dirty’ or ‘wrong.’

No wonder these people are the most angry and judgmental when they see others enjoying a healthy, happy sex life. They are like people on a low-carb diet who are being forced to sit there and watch everyone else enjoy a big, cheesy pizza. They want the pizza too. They can smell it. They can see it. Their bodies have a physiological response to the temptation before them. But rather than acknowledging that (“That pizza looks good”) they instead flip it around on everyone else: “Pizza is wrong and bad and you shouldn’t be eating it! You are all gross! I’m going to try and stop you from ever buying another pizza!”

Truthfully, you can think whatever you want about sexual aids, masturbation, fetishes, sexual orientation. We all have our own belief systems regarding sexuality and sexual expression and I would never encourage anyone to do something they believe is sinful. However, if you truly want to become the master of the urges you judge, you have to first admit that they exist. And you have to let that be okay.

You have to exist there, watching yourself with non-judgment and openness. Understand your urges so you can work with them. Challenge your assumptions by considering which ones you truly subscribe to now as the adult you are versus those you have been taught. Don’t think you can hide who you are by casting aspersions at others, but instead focus on trying to understand yourself. I wonder what would happen if Cruz (and other conservative politicians) practiced this behavior. Would he still be a vociferous opponent of sex aids? Or would he move into a place of peaceful observation in which he could confidently choose his own sexual behavior while allowing others to choose theirs?

At the end of the day, masturbation isn’t a crime. And, neither is hypocrisy. But, while the former can feel really, really good, the latter doesn’t. I guarantee that If these allegations are true (or at this point even if they aren’t) Cruz is probably feeling mightily ashamed and hopeless right now. But I urge him (and all of you), whatever your urges, stay present. Stay open. Accept yourself for exactly who you are. It doesn’t mean there aren’t things you’d like to work on and change. But it’s simply being with your feelings and honoring them, even the urges that allows you to gain strength, perspective, hope and power.

And, one last thing, for Cruz and for everyone out there who watches porn online: PAY for it! When you watch porn for free, you are doing a great disservice to sex workers. Make sure you are enjoying erotica ethically. Here’s how.