'Peg the patriarchy' meaning: Understanding Cara Delevingne's outfit

Bruno Cooke September 14, 2021
'Peg the patriarchy' meaning: Understanding Cara Delevingne's outfit
Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images


The Met Gala 2021, themed “A Lexicon Of Fashion”, took place yesterday following a covid-related postponement. English model Cara Delevingne and US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez both took the opportunity to make political statements. What is the meaning behind Delevingne’s “peg the patriarchy” vest, and who is the phrase’s originator, Luna Matatas?

What is the meaning behind Cara Delevingne’s ‘peg the patriarchy’ Met Gala outfit?

Cara Delevingne’s Met Gala get-up – white suit trousers, white heels, wet-look hair and a breastplate-style vest bearing the phrase “peg the patriarchy” – brought a splash of socio-political messaging to the high profile fundraising event.

On what people should take away from the slogan, Delevingne said: “It’s about women empowerment – equality, gender equality, you know – it’s a bit like ‘stick it to the man’”.

  • TV: Who is Ava Russo? Age and parents of Hawkeye actress
Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage

Her interviewer, Keke Palmers, praised her for “giving us that powerful but yet sexy”.

What does it mean to peg the patriarchy?

Delevingne also joked that, if those watching didn’t know what the term “pegging” meant, they should look it up themselves, “because I’m not going to explain it, right now”.

“Pegging,” writes Rose Stokes, “is about subverting traditional power dynamics”. It can be “hugely rewarding, allowing women to take ownership of their sexuality”.

It is a sexual act, a detailed defence of which can be found here.

  • TV: What is Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye comic all about?

Asterigos – Official Trailer | PS5, PS4

Asterigos – Official Trailer | PS5, PS4

In a formal sense, “patriarchy” refers to a system of social organisation marked by the control of men of a disproportionately large share of power. Per the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, it relies “both on crude forms of oppression, like violence; and subtle ones, like laws; to perpetuate inequality”.

Who coined the phrase?

The actual phrase “peg the patriarchy” was apparently coined in 2015 by sex and pleasure educator Luna Matatas. 

Per her own website, Matatas has over a decade of experience in sexual health and wellness education. Her approach to sexuality “draws on the creativity, confidence and communication skills we all need to fulfill our pleasure potentials”.

  • MUSIC: Is Normani gay or bi? Fans commend 2021 VMA performance
Source: YouTube [Luna Matatas]

Her intention with the slogan was to “get provocative about subverting the system of patriarchy. Patriarchy”, per the Peg The Patriarchy collection website, “has no gender; working to dismantle it benefits us all.”

Matatas has numerous clothing items in the collection, including face masks, mugs and hoodies.

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know
Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.