King Kong Theory – Virginie Despentes

It does seem that non fiction seems to be something that I can turn to when I having a bit of a problem with reading and ‘King Kong Theory’ which is a set of autobiographical essays by Virginie Despentes was just the thing I needed. Though I have to say it’s not for the faint hearted and you might not want to read my thoughts if you are offended by certain language as Virginie Despentes tells it how it is from the very first paragraph of the book… you have been warned.

“I am writing as an ugly one for the ugly ones; the old hags, the dykes, the frigid, the unfucked, the unfuckables, the neurotics, the psychos, for all those girls that don’t get a look-in in the universal market of the consumable chick. I’m making no excuses for myself. I’m not complaining. I would never swap places, because it seems to me that being Virginie Despentes is a more interesting business than anything else going on out there.”

Virginie Despentes became one of the most notorious women in France because of her rape-revenge novel, and then film, ‘Baise-Moi’ which I have neither read nor seen – though of course I now want to so I can see what all the fuss was about. In these essays, with titles such as ‘Your Arse or Mine’, ‘Porno Witches’ and ‘She’s So Depraved, You Can’t Rape Her’, she looks at the rape that she endured, her life in prostitution and pornography and how society today doesn’t allow feminists to be true feminists and what should change.

This isn’t a misery memoir and nor does it feel like a book written to shock and sell copies it does read as a true account of a rather notorious woman’s life told with a bluntness and candour that you cant help admiring whilst occasionally wincing at. Its also isn’t a book that is only for women to read, and in fact I would recommend a lot of men give this a go because of the openness of what’s discussed. Despentes isn’t a man hater despite all she has been through, she does look at how male dominated the world is.

“But women still feel the need to say that violence is not the answer. And yet, if men were to fear having their dicks slashed to pieces with a carpet knife should they try to force a woman, they would soon become much better at controlling their ‘masculine’ urges, and understanding that ‘no’ means ‘no’. I wish I’d been able to escape the values instilled in my gender that night, and slit each of their throats, one by one. Instead of having to live with being someone who didn’t dare defend herself, because she’s a woman and violence is not her domain, and the physical integrity of the male body is more important than that of the female.”

It’s hard to say too much more on this book because it’s a short collection of 131 pages of essays and they really need to be read to be believed. If you’re a fan of feminist works then you might find this quite a new, emotionally honest and distinctive voice filled with sadness, anger and courage. Its quite something and it’s a book that will make you uncomfortable and yet change your thoughts about the world all in one and books like that make important reads. 8/10

I was sent this book from the publisher.

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3 Comments

Filed under Review, Serpent's Tail, Virginie Despentes

3 responses to “King Kong Theory – Virginie Despentes

  1. Thoughtful as usual, I think Despentes is making some very important, if uncomfortable for many, points. There was an excellent interview/article about her in the Observer nearly two years ago which you may have read.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/jan/18/french-feminism-despentes-catherine-millet

  2. SUCH a powerful book that I think everyone should read. I read it earlier this year and really loved it. Glad it got you out of your reading funk!

  3. I actually have this on my wishlist but haven’t read it yet. I’m not sure if I want to read Baise Moi (I haven’t seen the film either), but I definitely want to read this. I think all books like this (personal, feminist, angry) will be uncomfortable reading, but then truth and reality rarely is comfortable.

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