King Kong Theory, By Virginie Despentes, trs Polly McLean

Lesley McDowell
Sunday 08 February 2009 01:00

Virginie Despentes is best known for her controversial 1995 novel and 2000 film, Baise-Moi, about a prostitute and a rape victim who go on a killing spree. King Kong Theory is a free-ranging feminist manifesto that gives a little backdrop to that novel (Despentes's own ordeal being gang-raped, for instance) and details her other first-hand experiences of prostitution and pornography.

Despentes's feminism is informed not so much by the personal but by the sexual. (There's not a great deal here about equal pay or childcare facilities.) It gives her writing an undeniable edge and urgency, although it can still seem a little out of date: porn actresses are expected to have orgasms for real, she says, but no one watches Britney Spears on stage "grumbling 'I reckon she was faking it'". Erm, actually, they do. Where Despentes does get interesting is in noting the difference that money makes – Paris Hilton, for example, was exposed by a sex tape, yet had enough money to capitalise on it.

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