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

Bruno Cooke September 14, 2021
Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

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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’”.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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Bruno is a postgraduate student studying global journalism, with research interests in the intersection of the media, storytelling, culture and politics. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Packs Light and Forge Press, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com. He is a Student Ambassador for Tortoise Media, a big fan of Freddie Mercury and a novelist – his debut novel, Reveries, is available on Amazon.