Writing for the ugly ones: King Kong Theory
Part punk rock zine and part academic manifesto, King Kong Theory is the side of feminism no one wanted to tell you about.
This is the first line of King Kong Theory. Virginie Despentes, who describes herself as “more King Kong than Kate Moss," wrote King Kong Theory in 2006 and it was translated to English in 2010. It focuses on Despentes’ life as a young sex worker in France during the 90’s and details her work as a prostitute, porn actress and her own rape.
Despentes is known for Baise-moi (translated as either Rape Me or Fuck Me) a French film based on her novel of the same name. Baise-moi centers around rape and revenge. Condemned as pornography - though it is anything but - Baise-moi was hated by critics and then banned in most countries. Making Baise-moi the first film to be banned in France in 28 years. Considering mainstream audiences were already used to watching porn and horror films in theatres it seems like a reach to ban a film which is no harder to watch than the latter. Tarantino’s graphic violence was already widely accepted and critically acclaimed, so maybe it wasn’t the graphic scenes that appalled audiences but the fact that it was a woman directing a revenge film based on her own rape.
These events were the inspiration for King Kong Theory. It was a ‘fuck you’ to her critics and a personal essay, from these ingredients, came a new kind of feminist theory. Despentes writes with quick wit and dares to say what others were afraid of. She critiques systems of oppression that have harmed her, and calls for other women to think about how they too are playing a part in the patriarchy.
King Kong Theory is unapologetic, engrossing and enraging, through her personal experiences Despentes writes a hilarious, yet serious book which has been known to anger both the political right and left. It’s “a must read for every sex worker, punk, queer, john, academic, pornographer - and for all those people who dislike them too” (Annie Sprinkle). Controversial to it’s core it doesn’t matter if you’re pro- or anti-sex work, this book provides compelling arguments for both sides.