Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez grabbed all the headlines from this week’s Met Gala with her “Tax the Rich” dress, letting another even more outrageous message outfit fly under the radar that’s now facing charges of “classic appropriation” and “colonialism.” Strap in (ahem) for the ridiculous.
It began on Monday at the Met with model Cara Delevingne wearing a white top designed by Dior to look like a bulletproof vest that read, “Peg the Patriarchy.” (Pegging is a term coined by gay activist Dan Savage to denote when a woman wears a strap-on dildo and penetrates a man.)
“It’s about women empowerment, gender equality — it’s a bit like, ‘Stick it to the man,'” Delevingne explained on the red carpet.
Cara Delevingne's top reads Peg The Patriarchy!!!— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) September 14, 2021
Then she said, "It's about sticking it to the man." ☠️☠️ #MetGala pic.twitter.com/lKZ6zUTYHw
Of course, feminist geek site The Mary Sue found people upset about the phrase for the most absurd reasons:
While a lot of people did appreciate Delevingne’s outfit and the message on it, lots more found it misguided and in poor taste. Some felt the language was homophobic and depicted pegging as an inherently demeaning act meant to put one in their place, so to speak. (Delevingne identifies as pansexual but that doesn’t mean she can’t still engage in homophobic rhetoric.) There’s also an implication that anal pleasure isn’t something straight cis men (aka “the patriarchy”) might already enjoy. And others simply wondered why the patriarchy was worthy of sexual gratification in the first place.
Somehow, the story got weirder, as BuzzFeed reported with an article on Wednesday that hilariously began, “Luna Matatas had just wrapped up teaching a BDSM class on Monday night when she went to Twitter to share highlights from the session.”
Turns out, Matatas, a self-described “fat, queer, POC…working twice as hard just to do what I'm already amazing at” because of business barriers “[f]rom censorship to patriarchy to racism,” had trademarked the phrase "Peg the Patriarchy" in 2015 but got no credit from the model or her famous designer, which she dubbed “colonialism.”
Matatas said to BuzzFeed News the moment felt "very David and Goliath."
"When I realized the designer was Dior, I was like 'Oh, God,'" Matatas said. "It's classic appropriation. We're talking about people with a lot of privilege. It really would have been so easy for us to link arms and lift each other up."
Even Delevingne's status as a co-owner of a sex toy company who describes her sexuality as “like a pendulum swinging” wasn't any match for Matatas in the woke victim hierarchy.
But Matatas said white, cisgender people like Delevingne "don't face the same kinds of challenges because of their social location." Matatas said small businesses in the sex industry like hers face constant censorship on social media for their content, which hurts their brand awareness and growth.
Her small brand could never access the same advertising scale or influencer resources that big-name brands like Dior can because of these barriers. Even performing sexuality on a red carpet without consequence is a privilege, she said.
The Mary Sue also criticized Delevingne, “[T]here’s something especially sinister about seeing a woman who self-identifies as a feminist and an activist co-opt a progressive message taken from an artist to wear to a high-profile arts fundraiser.”
Yeah, that's what's sinister about "Peg the Patriarchy." These people are so woke they're unconscious.