Dear Chrissie Hynde, what happened to you was not your fault.
There were some fairly shocking headlines over night. “Chrissie Hynde: ‘You have to take responsibility for rape'”. “Chrissie Hynde Criticised Over ‘Rape’ Remarks: ‘If You Dress Provocatively, You’re Enticing Someone Who’s Already Unhinged.'”
Every headline screamed that Hynde was telling rape victims that they were to blame. That their clothes and their shoes enticed men to attack them.
It seemed out of character. Hynde, as lead singer of The Pretenders was a rock legend and a music pioneer. She is a pin-up for women in every respect. Smart, talented, stylish, cool and powerful. At 63, she still performs with the best in the business, is an advocate for animal rights and follows a branch of Hinduism.
It is worth looking closely at her comments. Not because her comments were in any way acceptable (they weren’t), but because of what she revealed about herself when she made them.
Yes, there is no doubt that Chrissie said what the headlines claim. She definitely said that women are to blame for sexual assault:
“If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk? Who else’s fault can it be?”
“If I’m walking around and I’m very modestly dressed and I’m keeping to myself and someone attacks me, then I’d say that’s his fault. But if I’m being very lairy and putting it about and being provocative, then you are enticing someone who’s already unhinged – don’t do that. Come on! That’s just common sense.
“You know, if you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him.
“If you’re wearing something that says ‘Come and f*** me’, you’d better be good on your feet… I don’t think I’m saying anything controversial am I?”
Well, yes. That is controversial. Because it is a thing that people say all the time that is (on all of those occasions) wrong. If you are “being very lairy and putting it about and being provocative,” you are not “enticing someone” to rape you. That is untrue. “Don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him,” is ridiculous advice.
But if we read on, you get a different perspective on Hynde.
Watch Chrissie Hynde perform her most iconic song, The Pretenders’ Brass In Pocket.