Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Virginie Despentes - King Kong Theory (Serpents Tail 2009)

This manifesto from 'King Kong not Marilyn Monroe' Virginie Despentes is as much an assault on our conscious as her films. She's famed for the ultra-violence and proper sex of 'Baise-Moi' which caused an uproar for its 'pornographic depictions' of sex and the thought that two women might want to indulge in some ultra-violence. God forbid. This book, over a curt 160 pages, gets to the crux of Despentes and her feelings on feminity, feminism, women and sexuality. Once the victim of rape and having worked as a prostitute, she astutely dissects the guilt that leads women into prostitution, she explores pornography and its treatment of women. She is candid, clear and provocative, while entirely personal and conversational, through an effective translation and her erudite self-reflection. Feminist theory sheds its fusty image and takes on a punk mentality as Despentes claims that sisterhood explodes our belief in feminine perfection and creates a space for all those who can't or won't obey the rules. This is brutal and honest prose, and as a man reading it, I felt like I was given an insight into feminity and feminism that doesn't seem to be discussed in the fluffy 'independent woman' of Sex and the City and Destiny's Child. This is real-life with real experiences, not empowerment of the female middle classes. This is a fierce and fearless book and I suggest men read it, and women too, because Despentes is a punk rock tour de force of opinion and honesty.

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