Cara Delevingne’s ‘Peg the Patriarchy’ moment from the 2021 Met Gala undoubtedly missed the mark. Delevingne and Dior both failed to credit the original creator of the slogan, a black, queer sex educator Luna Matatas. Beyond this transgression, Delevingne’s message and its delivery were blatant examples of the contradictory messages often encoded in mainstream depictions of non-normative sexualities. Delevingne clearly thought her stunt was groundbreaking, or at the very least, intelligent and thought-provoking. This begs the question of why, exactly, mainstream representations of non-normative sexualities so often miss the mark, and often do more harm than good.
As Rama becomes more and more the icon of “virile Hinduism” and the symbol of a new kind of hegemonic, patriarchal, masculinity, so Krishna is held up as the counterpoint: masculine but not man; gendered but fluid; and sexual but not bound by cultural or even biological norms.