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Teoría King Kong

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  14,554 ratings  ·  1,359 reviews
La diva destroy punk de las letras francesas, escritora de novelas en las que las protagonistas ocupan posiciones tradicionalmente reservadas a los hombres (sangre, sexo y rock-and-roll) y de la controvertida y censurada película Fóllame (2000), nos ofrece un ensayo en primera persona en el que se ataca a los tabúes del feminismo liberal: la violación, la prostitución y la ...more
Paperback, 2.ª ed., 126 pages
Published 2009 by Melusina (first published October 4th 2006)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  14,554 ratings  ·  1,359 reviews

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Tim Pendry
(I am reviewing the English Edition, published by Serpent's Tail, rather than the French Edition)

Let's get the negatives out of the way quickly because this is an important little book that might have got the honour of five stars if its faults had been more sincerely addressed by its Editors.

It has three spectacularly interesting chapters on rape, prostitution and pornography that would have made excellent articles in, say, Prospect or some other intelligent monthly. Yet these sit oddly between
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, 2018-read
New English edition coming up: King Kong Theory
It is not necessary to agree with Virginie Despentes in all points to appreciate this passionate pamphlet against toxic masculinity in the context of gender relations, societal norms, the class system and capitalism. Despentes points out that it's often men as well as women who suffer from traditional norms because the pressure to conform also applies to them - and she tries to pin down who profits from this system.

Mixing general observations and p
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender-stuff
I thought this was fantastic, the kind of thing that reminds me what I first loved about feminist writing – that sense of intelligent, articulate fury levelled on behalf of common sense against the hypocrisy and idiocy of social inqualities.

Virginie Despentes identifies herself firmly as a keupone rather than a bonne meuf – these are slangy verlan terms for ‘punk’ v. ‘cool chick’ which well establish both her ideology and her idiomatic tone. One imagines her writing this in a cold rage, hammerin
Blake Nelson
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the great punk rock/anarchist/feminist book that nobody could figure out how to write.


A French person wrote it of course because Americans are too prudish to let loose like Despentes does. This book kills it.
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading about her personal experiences, but none of the concepts she extrapolated from them were particularly enlightening. Her opinions about rape survivors are juvenile, rudimentary at best; similarly, her thoughts on pornography and prostitution are naive - all she seems to argue is that they aren't *inherently* degrading. There's much more to it than that. She barely acknowledges how traumatizing the aforementioned industries are to the women who are a part of it - i.e. exploited p ...more
At the beginning of this month I realised my non-fiction quota for 2018 was looking pretty pathetic: a grand total of four books, all written by men. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to power through a handful of feminist texts I've had on the backburner for some time. I read King Kong Theory between two other short feminist polemics – Why I Am Not a Feminist by Jessa Crispin and What Women Want by Ella Whelan – and it was easily my favourite of the three.

The first few pages ar
Audacia Ray
I like Despentes' directness, anger, and energy. She's unapologetic and ferocious, which are excellent qualities in a writer, and she's unafraid to bring personal messiness into her arguments about feminism.

The three chapters on rape, prostitution, and porn are direct and interesting, though not original arguments. The writing is engaging and it's worth repeating that she's fierce.

Throughout the book, I found myself wondering if Despentes was delivering a critique of oppositional sexism or contr
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-french
More French books. Yay. I hope you're as excited as I am. King Kong Théorie is my first book by Virginie Despentes but it sure as heck won't be my last.
“Because this ideal of the attractive but not whorish white woman, in a good marriage but not self-effacing, with a nice job but not so successful she outshines her man, slim but not neurotic over food, forever young without being disfigured by the surgeon’s knife, a radiant mother not overwhelmed by nappies and homework, who manages her home
"What women have endured is not only the history of men, but also their own specific oppression."

A collection of 7 feminist essays indisputably thought-provoking and justifiably outraged, Despentes' King Kong Theory scrutinises and explores societal standards, rape, prostitution, pornography, and women's role in literature.

In sharp, vulgar, and aggressive pitch and style, arguments about the advantages of not adhering to the expected amount of femininity deter the conventional roles expected of
I am sad to say this wasn't for me. I don't think it was necessarily bad, but it wasn't really well written neither; Despentes had interesting ideas that unfortunately remained on the surface of what I felt were the true issues. I would have liked to have had a bigger, better constructed argument and analysis along with her experiences. I do think it's valuable and important that she shared her own story, but it would have worked wonders as an introduction to an actual debate. Instead, I felt li ...more
Wow. This is a strong, angry, fierce, direct, raw and unapologetic piece of feministic writing - it totally captured me, its passion really got me. Virginie Despentes has a lot to say - and she doesn't hold back. And she knows what she's talking about, which makes this powerful rant even more passionate and honest. This, however, isn't a manhating pamphlet, for Despentes ideas of gender equality concern all sexes, and she argues for a liberation of men as well - we're all trapped in this partiar ...more
Kirat Kaur
A disappointing read. Despentes makes so many sweeping unsubstantiated statements that, because they go unexplained, has the effect of rendering the text with a manifesto-like sensationalist ethos, that does very little to advance any kind of understanding about anything. The strongest sections are the ones in which she discusses her personal experiences with sexual violence and sex work, but even there, a lot of generalisations are made about how women respond to these things, which i feel does ...more
Nicki Hill
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
okay. this book was amazing. despentes is a bold, intelligent writer. it's a short book, but it is biting. basically it is 137 pages of fabulous sound bites. i find myself wanting to quote her all day all the time. she chronicles her own very personal life and fits it to her own definition of feminism. she deconstructs every faucet of western society. she questions the greats, even de Beauvoir, which is sort of awesome. i will re-read this. here is a quote, in which she references her own rape:
k reads
Interesting but ultimately disappointing. This is more of a rant based on the author's own personal experiences. It could have used some deeper insight.
If I got to talk to the author at a party I would walk away thinking, Wow! What a fascinating person but as a book, well, there’s just not enough there there.
This is not a boring read and it’s certainly a quick read, being so short but I would have liked more substance.
Despite my two star rating, I would’t discourage anyone from reading it. I th
Alexandra Pearson
What a fantastic piece of writing! I want to get a copy of this book and give it to everyone I know. I'll start with all the women and then all the men, especially the ones who don't want to read it, because they're the ones who need it the most. I feel invigorated. It's made me think, and question myself and open my mind. Fucking marvellous. ...more
One hundred sixty pages that blew my mind. I stayed up all night to finish this.
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finished this a few days ago and have been letting it marinate. I appreciated this slim book of punk feminist theory, even though I didn't always agree with her conclusions. I think she has a tendency to generalize based on her own anecdotal experiences and that her view can be a bit narrow even as she criticizes mainstream society for generalizing and pigeonholing women. But I also think her perspective is very valuable. She challenges the status quo, and what more can you ask for? ...more
Louise Beilby
Argh. I'm not sure where to start with this. I suppose the first thing to say is that I do not agree with the majority of what Virginie Despentes writes here. I am opposed to the sex industry and think that this shallow and self-centred diatribe conveniently ignores the basis of anti-sex-work arguments in favour of casting slurs on other women.

My main objection to her theorising is that she casts "anti-porn" feminists as frustrated, middle-aged wives who fear that the legalisation of prostitutio
Unapologetic and engaging writing, this is definitely a favourite feminist text.
Power is not the same as brutality. The concepts are very different ... It's a question of mindset, of courage, of defiance. There is a kind of strength that is neither masculine nor feminine, one that intimidates, terrifies, reassures. An ability to say no, to impose one's opinion, not to duck the issue. p.126

King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes (trans. Frank Wynne)

Part-memoir, part feminist essay collection King Kong Theory was first published in French in 2006. It certainly ha
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Feminism is a collective venture, for women, for men, and others. A revolution that is well underway. A vision of the world, a choice. It's not about pitting the miserable gains by women against the miserable gains by men, it's about blowing the whole fucking thing sky high." ...more
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
“Thank fuck for Courtney Love. In particular. And for punk in general. A penchant for conflict. Under cover of my peroxide-blond hair, I sorted my head out. The monster inside me isn’t going to give up.”

Punk, feminist essays – served raw. None of that ‘boss babe’ bullshit culture mainstreamed to high-key objectify/low-key domesticate/silently oppress women further to fit into ‘society’. This is the real gold nugget (of feminist writing). Not very inclusive – mostly ‘white’ feminism, but Des
Bart Van Overmeire
Reminder that pre-Covid wasn't all coming up roses either. And how on earth was this only my first white Fitzcarraldo? These aren't the "normal" times we want to get back to. ...more
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this. Despentes is fierce and unapologetic, and I found myself agreeing with a lot of what she had to say. I didn't fully agree with her arguments regarding porn, however, which seemed too simplistic. She seemed to be arguing against the anti-porn movement as it is from a prudish / conservative standpoint as opposed to tackling it from the perspective of many feminists who are bothered by much more than the mere fact that women are taking off their clothes. She seems to recognize ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism
A raw and direct feminist essay that I encourage absolutely EVERYONE to read!!!
It is one of the best I have read so far, no pompous writing just rage against today's patriarchal, homophobic and racist society but thoughtfully arranged and explained.

Revolutionary and empowering as fuck ! Need to re-read over and over again, there's so much to think and learn about in those 150 something pages..
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A funny, interesting and intelligent punk feminist text that feels both timeless and modern. Although some aspects of the essays definitely feel like a rant - can you blame Despentes? The writing throughout is unapologetic and engaging, drawing on own personal experiences to frame toxic masculinity, (all) gender relations, class systems and capitalism.

4 stars for this bold, biting book!!
Dec 24, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Same old neoliberal ideology, pull yourself up by your bootstraps commodifying your body, sexist tropes, etc, but it's dressed in punk attire and has a rude attitude so wow it's so rebellious and cool wow ...more
Cassandra Gillig
I cannot believe it took me so long to read this--a perfect book of wild but true declarations written w the momentum of any woman trying 2 reconcile the position of women w/ the world. Dworkin meets Leduc & a papercut 2 b had on every page. so much 2 love here--every tirade a gift lol
Lord Beardsley
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, read2018
Living in a French-speaking country (Belgium) and being friends with a lot of Francophone feminists, I've heard a lot about Virginie Despentes over the years. She's what I would consider to be a rock star feminist icon within French/Belgian feminism. It's very difficult to find English translations of her work in Belgium. In fact, I have had to order all her books from the States.

It helps to understand that sex worker's issues is a huge point of contention in French/Belgian feminism, a lot of pe
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Virginie Despentes is a French writer, novelist and filmmaker, born in Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle. Her most famous novel, and film of the same name is Baise-moi, a contemporary example of the exploitation films genre known as rape and revenge films. Her most recent biographical, non-fiction work, King Kong Theory has also been translated into English, and recounts her experiences working within the ...more

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95 likes · 10 comments
“In much the same way, motherhood has become the essential female experience, valued above all others: giving life is where it's at. "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 waged work is a condition of social survival but guaranteed to no one, and especially not to women. Give birth in cities where accommodation is precarious, schools have surrendered the fight and children are subject to the most vicious mental assault through advertising, TV, internet, fizzy drink manufacturers and so on. Without children you will never be fulfilled as a woman, but bringing up kids in decent conditions is almost impossible.” 49 likes
“Because this ideal of the attractive but not whorish white woman, in a good marriage but not self-effacing, with a nice job but not so successful she outshines her man, slim but not neurotic over food, forever young without being disfigured by the surgeon’s knife, a radiant mother not overwhelmed by nappies and homework, who manages her home beautifully without becoming a slave to housework, who knows a thing or two but less than a man, this happy white woman who is constantly shoved under our noses, this woman we are all supposed to work hard to resemble – never mind that she seems to be running herself ragged for not much reward – I for one have never met her, not anywhere. My hunch is that she doesn’t exist.” 22 likes
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