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What is pegging? - Richard Godwin

Blog | By Richard Godwin | Jul 22, 2022

Rude girl: Delevingne at the Met Gala

After Cara Delevingne's bold fashion statement called for viewers to ‘peg the patriarchy’, the radical sexual habit has invited a whirlwind of controversy. By Richard Godwin

TRIGGER WARNING! PLEASE DON’T READ THE FOLLOWING IF OF A SENSITIVE DISPOSITION…

Pegging is an extreme sexual practice whereby, um, the woman takes the role of the man by attaching an appendage and, as Oldie contributor Sir Les Patterson might put it, exploring a new opening.

Like many sexual terms, ‘to peg’ also has a metaphorical meaning, ‘to destroy’. This was the meaning model Cara Delevingne intended at the 2021 Met Gala in New York in September. She appeared in a bullet-proof Dior vest, emblazoned with the legend ‘PEG THE PATRIARCHY’. She explained to reporters that she hoped to ‘stick it to the man’ – and prompted a flurry of p-word Googling.

Patriarchy describes a social system in which men and male concepts hold sway, explicitly or implicitly, at home, at work, in politics – everywhere.

Once on the fringes of feminist thought, the patriarchy is now popularly understood to be the common thread between all manner of anti-woman phenomena, from anti-abortion laws in Texas to the Taliban to the cost of childcare to the #MeToo phenomenon. Hence the rallying cry ‘Smash the patriarchy’.

But hang on – peg the patriarchy? A misprint, surely? Surely Cara meant ‘Peg back the patriarchy’? Or pig: ‘Pig to the patriarchy’?

But no: Delevingne very definitely pointed to ‘PEG’ and said, ‘If anyone doesn’t know what this word is, you’re going to have to look it up because I’m not going to explain it.’

I can’t help feeling that such coyness is not only a dereliction of duty; it upholds precisely the sort of sexual norms that pegging enthusiasts seek to disrupt. For there is nothing shameful about pegging, they argue – or any other sexual peccadillo, for that matter (except, perhaps, for missionary-position cis-het sex, which was cancelled in 2017).

Pegging was first described by the Marquis de Sade in his 1795 book Philosophy in the Bedroom. (‘Come now, Madame, embugger your brother’…) The LGBT columnist Dan Savage coined the term ‘pegging’ to describe it in 2001. And it has since formed a storyline in the sitcom Peep Show and inspired Cosmopolitan magazine to publish a helpful how-to guide. It seems everyone is doing it these days.

As Anna, 28, told Cosmopolitan, ‘Pegging is great because it puts you in a role you’re not really used to being in as a woman. There are aspects of dominance, power, intimacy, and strength that I don’t think we get to experience in quite the same wordless way when it comes to vanilla sex.’ Taylor, 55, added, ‘He loved submitting to me and I loved him submitting to me.’

Which begs the question: if it’s such a treat, what has the patriarchy done to deserve a good pegging? Or was Delevingne implying that pegging was some sort of punishment as opposed to a perfectly healthy thing for consenting adults to do, sometimes? Cancel her immediately!