Virginie Despentes (French: [depɑ̃t]; born 13 June 1969) is a French writer, novelist and filmmaker.
Despentes’ work is an inventory of youth marginalization; it pertains to the sexual revolution lived by Generation X and to the acclimation of pornography in public spaces through new communication techniques. With a transgressive exploration of obscenity’s limits, as a novelist or a film-maker she proposes social critique and an antidote to the new moral order. Her characters deal with misery and injustice, self-violence such as drug addiction, or violence towards others such as rape or terrorism, violences she has also suffered from. She is one of the most popular French authors from this era. Her book King Kong Theory is sometimes taught in gender studies and “often passed down to millennial women as a recommendation from a cool, not-that-much-older mentor.” For years after the release of her 1993 novel Rape Me, she was depicted by French literary institutions as an outsider or “enfant terrible“, and drew criticism from both the political left and right. Later works such as Apocalypse Bébé (2010) and the Vernon Subutex trilogy (2015–17) received many positive reviews.