Cara Delevingne arrives for the 2021 Met Gala in a white bullet proof vest reading "peg the patriarchy"

Cara Delevingne’s “Peg the Patriarchy” Met Gala Look Appears to Be Appropriated From a Queer, WOC Artist

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When Cara Delevingne showed up on the Met Gala red carpet wearing a white top designed to look like a bulletproof vest displaying the words “peg the patriarchy,” the outfit immediately garnered a ton of attention. But as it turns out, the phrase emblazoned on the custom Dior vest was coined (and copyrighted) by an artist and sex educator named Luna Matatas, who says she was not consulted, credited, or paid for use of the slogan.

On Instagram, Matatas wrote that “While I’m giddy that Peg the Patriarchy® made it to The Met Gala,” Delevigne, who the artist notes is co-owner of sex tech startup Lora DiCarlo, “tried to pull it off as their own. No credit to me, the creator and owner of the trademark.”

Matatas notes that “as a fat, queer, POC I am working twice as hard just to do what I’m already amazing at. From censorship to patriarchy to racism, all biz barriers specific to my social location.”

“Enter sex shop co-owner at Met Gala with a custom designed vest with Peg the Patriarchy on it,” she continues. A simple Google search for “peg the patriarchy” would have brought up Matatas as the first result, so, while Delevingne and Dior haven’t yet responded to outlets’ requests for comment, it will be hard for anyone to argue this was an issue of ignorance and not theft.

Matatas told BuzzFeed News: “When I realized the designer was Dior, I was like ‘Oh, God. 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.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Cara Delevingne (@caradelevingne)

“What’s grossest for me is the media interviews,” the artist continues, “with Cara blatantly owning it as if it wasn’t already owned. Sound familiar? *Coughs in colonialism*”.

When Delevingne was asked on the red carpet to explain her outfit, she replied that “If someone doesn’t know what this means, you’re gonna have to look it up,” adding, “It’s about women empowerment, gender equality—it’s a bit like, ‘Stick it to the man.’”

That vague response didn’t do anything to ease the wave of criticism coming her way online. 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.

Matatas’ explanation of the message is definitely more thought-out, as you would expect from the person who coined it.

“Peg the Patriarchy is about subversion, not about an anal sex act and not about men,” she writes. “It’s a metaphor for subverting the system that requires subservience within a gender binary.”

Independent artists have to deal with their work being stolen all the time. Matatas says she has “an assistant whose job includes finding and tracing people printing and selling Peg the Patriarchy.” Copycats love to steal from artists and put their work up on Etsy or Amazon, and we frequently see giant corporations like Urban Outfitters accused of stealing art.

But there’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.

(Similarly, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and designer Aurora James are now facing similar accusations of stealing art for the congresswoman’s equally attention-grabbing and controversial dress.)

For everyone who saw Delevingne’s Met Gala look and thought “I wish I could wear that on a shirt(or a mug, or a mask), good news, you can. You can find Matatas’ original Peg the Patriarchy art at pegthepatriarchy.com.

 

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A post shared by Luna Matatas (@lunamatatas)

(image: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.