Ted Cruz, creepy misogynist: The "hymen" joke that perfectly reflects his odious worldview

A college-era Cruz tried to get the room laughing with a joke about punishing women for sex. LOL LOL LOL

Published April 22, 2015 2:52PM (EDT)

  (Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)
(Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)

Ted Cruz wants to be the president of… comedy!

New York Times piece about the Republican presidential contender's time on the Princeton University debate team is making the rounds this morning, with a lot of attention being paid to this passage:

Mr. Cruz’s own attempts at humor sometimes missed the mark. In one debate, he proposed a method to detect infidelity, in which God should “give women a hymen that grows back every time she has intercourse with a different guy, because that will be a ‘visible sign’ of the breach of trust,” according to a recollection by David Kennedy published in a Harvard debate team reunion booklet in 2001.

What an excellent joke. It is hilarious and good to think that maybe the best way to ensure that women comply with one's religious views on sex is to punish them with pain and bleeding. And it’s not like that kind of thinking has anything to do with Cruz’s current views on reproductive freedom or anything like that. Like it would be very out of line to see Cruz's joke about punishing women for sex as related to his current attempt to upend a reproductive health law in Washington, D.C. that prevents employers from -- wait for it -- punishing women for having sex.

And Cruz’s contention that women should be the ones tasked with compliance -- and, not, say men who might have their dicks bleed every time they have sex outside of marriage -- is definitely not revealing in the least. It would be an outrageous stretch to imagine that Cruz's riff on punitive consequences for women could be at all related to his extreme opposition to abortion in all cases, including rape and incest.

But back to the debate: Cruz’s opponent responded with a pretty sick burn, “contorting herself” and asking how, exactly, he might be able to see a hymen.

The exchange is getting a lot of attention because it is completely bananas, but I think the best part of the piece is this anecdote about Cruz at the quarterfinals of the national debate championship at MIT, which is likely why the Times' Jason Horowitz opened his piece with it:

Instead of the regular practice of defending his proposed topic — the merits of mind-reading — Mr. Cruz let his adversaries choose which side to argue. But the tactic, intended to highlight his confidence, backfired. As he waited for them to decide, the two Harvard students conspicuously dithered, eating up Mr. Cruz’s allotted speaking time while they whispered and searched their pockets for a coin to flip.

The audience, now on to the stalling tactic, chuckled as a frustrated Mr. Cruz snapped: “Gentlemen! You must have decided by now.” But Mr. Cruz and his partner never recovered, and the national championship for which he had worked so hard went to someone else.

A lesson for young Cruz, and for us all: acting like a grandstanding shithead can backfire. Alas, it is not a lesson Cruz has learned in his years since Princeton.

Cruz's sadistic instincts when it comes to women and sex and that one time his arrogance totally backfired and lost him a national championship may be the show stoppers in the Times piece, but it would be a tragedy to overlook this little nugget, revealed in a quote from his former debate teammate, Stephen Wunker: “He was an extreme fan of the Les Misérables soundtrack.”

Not going to lie: imagining Ted Cruz feeling his feelings with "I Dreamed a Dream" playing in the background makes me like him the teeny, tiniest bit. Like maybe he listened to it alone in his dorm room after he totally ate it at the MIT quarterfinals? That would be kind of sweet.

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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