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Remarks on King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes

January 26, 2011

King Kong Theory - Goodreads

I first heard about this book on Amy Reads after reading her review here about the book after she named it one of the best non-fiction books she had read in 2010.

My first thoughts on the King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes was wow … what a great book!  It was written with an open in your face attitude.  Despantes hits on a lot of important social issues and covers several controversial subjects including rape, prostitution, porn, and masturbation.

Each of Despentes discussions come from her own personal experiences and she discusses how societies views impact women and men alike.  For instance when she discusses prostitution, she talks from her own experience of having worked as a prostitute and talks about how it should be legalized.  She mentions the stigma having prostitution being illegal creates on both men and women.  She also has controversial ideas about the morality of prostitution:

“What upsets morality about paid-for sex is not the lack of female pleasure, but that the woman is out of the home and earning her own money.  The whore is the ‘streetwalker,’ the one who takes over the streets.  She works far from the domestic and maternal spheres, far from the family unit.”

There are so many topics covered in this small book that it is hard to single them out and I would love to say much about them all as each is relevant to society in a whole today.   I will just cover a few.

She discusses the issues of maternity and how it has once again become something a female must do to keep her femininity:

“‘Pro -maternity’ propaganda has rarely been so extreme.  They must be joking, the modern equivalent of the double constraint: ‘Have babies it’s wonderful, you’ll feel more fulfilled and feminine than ever.’ but do it in a society in freefall in which paid work is a condition of social survival but is guaranteed to no one, and especially not to women.”

She discusses pornography and the fact that it shouldn’t be stigmatized and that the female porn actress is hardly a victim.  She is more the male sexual character (a man in a female body) and is often intimidating to men, but she also discusses how the porn industry is a for men and profited by men industry.  Despentes also discusses the female reticence towards masturbation and how this is created by a desire to not offend the “vulnerable” male.

One of the most poignant and controversial sections of the book is on rape and Despentes personal experience on rape.  Amy covers this in detail in her review of the book, but I too would like to say that it was an extremely important part of this book as I have experienced this first hand and felt what Despentes said was very useful for female society in a world where unfortunately rape happens.  She discusses a revelation she had when reading an article by Camille Paglia:

“Paglia helped us think of ourselves as warriors — no longer personally responsible for something we had asked for, but ordinary victims of what you have to expect you may endure if you’re a woman and you want to venture into the wild.”

This is a very controversial statement, but it makes a lot of sense and I like the idea of viewing the female who endures rape not as a victim but as a warrior enduring something that may naturally happen when stepping out of the comfort zone.

Overall this book covers so many issues that I could not discuss my opinions on all of them.  Despentes wrote about things that you don’t find in mainstream writings and this makes it a worthy piece of feminist literature.  I would recommend anyone with an open mind to pick this book up and read it.  As Despentes says in the opening line of her book …

“I am writing as an ugly one for the ugly ones”

Even if you don’t feel you are an “ugly one” I’d say this is worth a read.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2011 7:25 pm

    Great review!! I am so, so, so glad to hear that you enjoyed it! I wish I could make everyone read it! And I so love that part and that quote too. Especially after now being through it myself – definitely a warrior not a victim 🙂

    • January 28, 2011 7:35 am

      Thank you so much for reviewing this book in the first place Amy!!! I love it and because I got it from the library to read I am definitely adding it to my list of books to buy. I think it is that important and it is a book that you could go back to and read time and time again.

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