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Cannonball Read III: King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes

By Stupid Velociraptors | Books | November 7, 2011 |

By Stupid Velociraptors | Books | November 7, 2011 |

“I am not remotely ashamed of not being a hot sexy number but I am livid that — as a girl who doesn’t attract men — I am constantly made to feel as if I shouldn’t even be around.”

The opening few pages of King Kong Theory are kind of worth the price of the book alone—a sort of love letter to the women and men who can never live up to what society expects them to be. For the rest of the book, Virginie Despentes uses stories about her own life to talk about larger issues like rape, prostitution, porn, and marginalization.

I found the essay on prostitution really interesting—Despentes actually was a sex worker for a while in the early 90s. She talks about how she actually quite liked sex work; she chose all her own clients, made decent money, and regained a lot of the confidence that had been stolen from her after her rape. The most regret she feels is when she has to tell people about it and deal with their reactions. I think Despentes was pretty lucky while she was doing sex work, but she’s not saying that her experiences are the norm. She’s mostly talking about her experiences to prove that with the right conditions, sex work could be a lot safer.

Virginie Despentes is an engaging writer, and kind of a punk badass too. King Kong Theory is a quick read (137 pages), but I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I finished it. It made me remember the story of Pamela Jean George, a woman who was raped and murdered not too far from my hometown when I was 15. And how at the trial of her murderers, the judge reminded the jury right before they started deliberations that “she was indeed a prostitute”. And how then the jury handed the murderers a lighter sentence of manslaughter. And how maybe we should be listening to women like Virginie Despentes more often.

For more of Stupid Velociraptor’s reviews, check out her self-titled blog.

This review is part of Cannonball Read III. For more information, click here.

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