Book Review: King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes

I write from the realms of the ugly, for the ugly, the frigid, the unfucked and the unfuckable, all those excluded from the great meat market of female flesh… Because this ideal of the seductive white woman constantly being waved under our noses – well, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist“.

– Virginie Despentes

Written by Virginie Despentes in 2006, King Kong Theory is agreeably the modern feminist manifesto that spares no pain, provocatively ravaging the current social order and theorizing controversial matters such as prostitution and rape.

Despentes’ deep insight comes from her personal experiences. She was a misfit, an underdog, rejected for her masculine punk-rock attitude, which explains her unapologetic and politically incorrect esthetic as opposed to academic feminism. She was raped by the age of 17 and shortly prostituted herself before becoming a film-maker, writer, and renowned French feminist and cultural critic. As someone who has been subject to so much sickening sexist violence, Virginie Despentes succeeded beyond my expectations in constructing an extroardinary manifesto as a blend of memoir and critical theory.

Although King Kong Theory is arguably my favorite non-fiction book, I disagreed with some of her points. For instance, stating that marriage is a socially accepted form of sex-work seems like an extreme and old-fashioned way of thinking, only applicable to very antiquated cultures. When advocating for sex-work and the protection of sex-workers, I would have liked for Despentes to get deeper into the ugly side of the world of prostitution, which millions of women are unwillingly forced into and are unable to escape. Nevertheless, the fact that this book sparks major internal debates, epiphanies, and quarrels, is further proof of its greatness. 

King Kong Theory is an absolute must introductory text for feminism. A provocative, unapologetic, anti-capitalist literary essay speaking for the misfits, the angry, the excluded, the ignored. 

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