Pegging for pleasure: Is the patriarchy begging for it?

Posted on September 21, 2021

By Jennifer Lyon Bell

Cara Delevigne's "Peg The Patriarchy" vest at the Met Ball might carry more than one message about social change.

The Met Ball 2021

In a year where several performers and artists made political statements with their outfits, Cara Delevigne created quite a stir at the Met Ball with her “Peg The Patriarchy“ Dior vest.

 

“Peg The Patriarchy”

When I first saw the vest, I was more than a little intrigued. Of course the typical phrasing is “fuck the patriarchy”, so this interesting twist made me think about how this phrasing is so meaningful.

 

When asked, Cara Delevigne didn’t give a very coherent explanation on the red carpet. “It’s about women [sic] empowerment, gender equality — it’s a bit like, ‘Stick it to the man,’” Delevigne told Vogue correspondent Keke Palmer at the event.

 

For those not familiar with the phrase pegging, it’s a term coined by longtime sex columnist Dan Savage of the column Savage Love. In 2001, he ran a reader contest to name the sexual act were in and a woman, using a strap on dildo, anally penetrates her male lover. “Pegging” was the winner, and it became common parlance for the act.

 

Luna Matatas – the real author

A side note, but an important one:  What was a bit strange about Cara Delevingne’s championing of this interesting phrase on her Dior vest is that, as has now been plentifully described in other media outlets, was that it constituted intellectual property theft. This phrase “peg the patriarchy“ was created, and copyrighted, by a self-described queer, fat, POC sex educator, Luna Matatas. It was deeply uncool of Cara Delevingne and Dior to create and publicize this outfit without Matatas’s approval, despite the cool slogan. So that needs to be said. But we can put a pin in that for now.

 

What does “Peg The Patriarchy” mean?

What does Luna Matatas think her phrase means? To her, “peg the patriarchy” means “subverting a system of oppression that impacts all genders and is upheld by the behaviours and ideas of [white] colonial masculinity,” as she wrote on Instagram in July.

 

That makes sense. But I am still intrigued at the echo I feel between the traditional phrase “fuck the patriarchy” and this more rich one, “Peg the patriarchy”. To be honest, I have never liked the word “fuck“ being used in the context of expressing frustration or anger towards a subject. I’m a person who works in sexuality, who needs to think deeply about the implications of culture and language on the way that we experience sexuality and pleasure and shame, and it always makes me uncomfortable to see the sexual word fuck purposefully used as an aggression. Specifically suggesting that the penetrator is committing a sort of violence on the penetrated.

 

Pegging and male pleasure

What I like about the use of the word “pegging“ in the circumstance is that pegging, to me, has always carried a connotation of the intense willingness of the male recipient to engage in this act of pleasure. Dan Savage’s columns (which I have loved for years) are full of stories of men who desperately wanted to be pegged and had to overcome their shame to ask for it.

 

The patriarchy – begging for change?

So, to me, “peg the patriarchy” carries an interesting implication that the patriarchy actually wants to change. They are begging for it. Could this in any way be true? It calls up an image of an old male guard, exhausted, realizing that they boxed themselves into a sad world of rigid rules, shallow pleasures, and an absolute insistence that they rid themselves of emotions, vulnerability, and anything they see as feminine, it does sound exhausting.

 

I don’t fool myself that folks with power are ever eager to give it up. But I am enjoying the idea that they might be running out of steam and realizing what they’ve given up with their power grab.

 

Support “Peg The Patriarchy” and Luna Matatas

Want to support the cause? If you like the phrase as much as I do, you can buy T-shirts and merchandise directly from Luna Matatas here, which I’m sure she would appreciate!

 

 

Photo credit: ANGELA WEISS/Getty Images

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