Today I learned that Ted Cruz, the man who wants to be our next president, once tried to ban people in Texas from buying sex toys to use during masturbation, claiming there's no legal right "to stimulate one's genitals." (Call me crazy, but I'd argue that the "pursuit of happiness" could definitely include self-love.)
Here's what happened: Back in 2007, Texas passed a law that forbid the sale of dildos and other sex toys in the Lone Star State. When that law was challenged in an appeals court, Cruz—who was Texas' solicitor general at the time—was tasked with fighting the appeal. It was his job to make sure the law stayed in place.
Cruz, a devout Christian, was up for the challenge. In legal documents unearthed by Mother Jones, Cruz claims that banning the sale of sex toys is necessary to protect "public morals." He also makes the case that there is government interest in "discouraging … autonomous sex." Finally—here's the kicker—he argues that "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."
Basically, Cruz argues that masturbation is bad for America, and that sexual gratification should only occur when future babies are involved. And thus, we shouldn't sell people sex toys. Duh.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Cruz and his team lost their case, reports Mother Jones. The court of appeals argued that banning the sale of sex toys for private use is unconstitutional.
An individual who wants to legally use a safe sexual device during private intimate moments alone or with another is unable to legally purchase a device in Texas, which heavily burdens a constitutional right.
Cruz asked for another appeal but was rejected. He then threatened to take the case all the way up to the Supreme Court, but never did. Perhaps he didn't want to be known as the guy fighting jerk-off sessions (which would make him even more unlikeable). Or perhaps he didn't want to face the fact that most people masturbate at some point in their lives. While I'm not going to try to verify this claim, after the Mother Jones story posted, Cruz's old Princeton roommate tweeted the following:
The truth is, there's nothing wrong with masturbation—it won't corrupt minors or loosen public morals, as Cruz argues. In fact, it's pretty good for you. Research has shown that orgasms come with all sorts of health benefits. They release feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin, which help reduce stress. Those same chemicals, along with the hormone prolactin, also put the body in a state of relaxation, which leads to better sleep. Orgasming helps strengthen the pelvic floor muscles in women, which can alleviate cramping and aid in bladder control. They've also been known to reduce the pain of migraines, and some studies have even shown that regular orgasms help you live longer.
Not to mention, masturbation helps many women figure out how to orgasm—which benefits both women and their sex partners, for life!
If anything, Cruz should be promoting masturbation as a national healthcare initiative. Just sayin'.
Taryn Hillin is Fusion's love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn — not necessarily in that order.