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King Kong Theory [Paperback]

Virginie Despentes , Stephánie Benson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

22 Jan 2009
King Kong Theory is Despentes' candid account of how she became notorious: reviled and admired in equal measure for her rape-revenge novel turned film, Baise-Moi, she is the poster girl for modern female rebellion. Powerful, provocative and personal, King Kong Theory describes the ways her ideas have been shaped by her experiences of rape, prostitution and working in the porn industry. Feminist theory sheds its fusty image and takes on a punk mentality as Despentes claims that sisterhood explodes our belief in feminine perfection and creates a space for all those who can't or won't obey the rules. Woolf and de Beauvoir are revived and updated by the loudest, most fiercely unapologetic misfit writing in France today.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (22 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846686423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846686429
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 567,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


`A gloriously aggressive and fearless writer...' -- Lisa Hilton, TLS

About the Author

Virginie Despentes was born in Paris in 1969, where she still lives. Her previous books include Les Jolie Choses, Teen Spirit and Bye Bye Blondie. She co-directed a screen adaptation of her controversial novel, Baise-Moi in 2002.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a much needed shot in the arm 6 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Virginie Despentes says a lot of things about contemporary gender relations that a lot of us have been thinking. Its a post punk rallying cry for the final push towards real equality. It cuts through the proverbial brown stuff to the real issues of violence against women, the meaning of marriage rape and prostitution, not forgetting the way that men are also oppressed by the gender system. We are all supporting a rotten system, its time to get angry again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking 20 April 2009
Virginie Despentes, the author of the brilliant Baise-Moi (Rape Me) gives us a non-fiction book for a change. Using her experiences and thoughts she gives us her view on the current state of feminism, and why she believes that things have not got any better. I must admit that I don't agree with everything that she writes, but it would be one boring read if I did. Reading about her experiences in France you begin to think that we are more liberal minded and laid back in good old Blighty.

Through discussing her rape, her dabbling in prostitution and the world of pornography, also taking in writing and co-directing Baise-Moi Despentes definitely has points to make altohugh some of these may not sit comfortably on everyones shoulders. What she has produced here is a book for both sexes to read and discuss, and perhaps if our politicians were to absorb its arguments things could improve. What can be said with this book though, whether you agree or disagree with Despentes you know exactly where she is coming from. Definitely a compulsive and thought provoking book that should be on your list of books to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Different Take on Feminism 17 Nov 2010
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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.

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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Feminism as it should be 14 Dec 2013
By L
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Raw, unapologetic, furious and unafraid to draw on every wave of feminism + the future in its battlecry against misogyny.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sending The Whole Lot Flying 8 Aug 2009
By Natalie Loveless - Published on
Covering difficult territory - rape, prostitution - has longtime been the province of feminism and feminist theory. In this newly translated book, Virginie Despentes offers an uncompromising example of what Jane Gallop might call "Anecdotal Theorizing." Moving seamlessly back and forth between personal narrative and meta-reflection, "King Kong Theory" is a book to be reckoned with. At times entertaining, at times truly difficult to read, it asks us to reflect anew on the taint and terror of sexuality in quotidian discourses of femininity and social "agency." I recommend this book to anyone interested in feminist theories of the visual, feminist autobiography, sex and sexuality. But even more importantly, I recommend this to anyone who thinks feminism is dated. With Virginie Despente, I say to them: "Feminism is a collective adventure, for women, men and everyone else. A revolution, well under way. A worldview. A choice. It's not a matter of contrasting women's small advantages with men's small assets, but of sending the whole lot flying." This is something that has been said before, but it is something that still bears saying. My hope is that reading this book will support and inspire a new generation of feminist thinker-makers to raise their voices, however they see fit.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVED IT! 17 April 2009
By Annie Sprinkle - Published on
King Kong Theory kicks butt! I devoured every hairy page like a hungry monster, and it was absolutely delicious and satisfying. When Virginie Despentes roars, what a thrill. When she purrs, its pure love. She unravels the mysteries of sex work, pornography, and femininity. Finally someone has done it! The feminist movement needs the King Kong Theory now more than ever. A must read for every sex worker, tranny, punk, queer, john, academic, pornographer--and for all those people that dislike them too. I'm buying copies for all the people I care about, so that they too can gain the insight into the nature of our beasts. Virginie Despuentes is my shero.

Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D., Sexecologist, Artist, Author
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King Kong makes me hot too 7 July 2009
By Elizabeth M. Stephens - Published on
I devoured King Kong theory in one long delicious reading. This was nothing less than a miracle because I had so many other books/emails/memos/boring bureaucratic letters that I was supposed to be reading. But, from the first line, "I am writing as an ugly one, for the ugly ones:" I was hooked. The heat that this book exudes is reminiscent of of Valarie Solaris' SCUM manifesto but instead of calling for gendercide this book calls for women just to take their power and laugh in the faces of all those who would prefer that we be silently polite in the face of never ending misogyny. A beautiful, powerful manifesto that reads like a post porn punk country love song and a must read for all of us who have ever felt ugly-or beautiful for that matter.
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a perfect read, but I would recommend it to all women (and men) 12 Aug 2012
By Marie - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
We read this book in our bookclub, and I am very happy we did. I never dared to watch Virginie's movie, but after reading this book, I can only recommend it. The connection between different chapters is a bit shaky which might be expected since they were written as separate essays. However, lots of interesting thoughts and viewpoints. Yes, Virginie is angry. But, she gave us very valuable ideas, and that is quite rare these days. Who dares to call herself a feminist? I would, joining the author.
5.0 out of 5 stars Try to tread it from her perspective... 23 Mar 2010
By J. Pratt - Published on
I loved this book. Like the other reviewer said, from the first line I devoured it hungrily. I spent four years studying sociology, for a degree in sexuality and gender studies. I've read plenty of feminism, from different perspectives. Yet I found this book to be at once new, vast, and well-grounded.

Virginie Despentes spirit is amazing. I have read a few bad reviews of this book, where people focused on small details and missed the forest for the trees. You wouldn't read Harry Potter and try to keep analyzing it and pulling it apart in relation to your own thoughts, would you? Yet this book is largely a narrative as well, and needs to be seen through her eyes and heard through her voice. This perspective will reveal that her view is very broad and encompassing. I was amazed at the way she rendered her experiences, laid her full set of feelings out in clear language, then related these things to the broader culture.

During my reading of the book, I kept finding myself wanting to stand up and say "yes, yes!" It was like she was speaking to my human soul, rather than as an academic, or a feminist, or anything else. Her book is profoundly real, and I think if anyone allows her words to stand on their own, and to see them from her perspective, it will change their understanding of culture, women, and men.
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