After the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde said she still blamed herself for being sexually assaulted more than 40 years ago, fans and advocates reacted both to condemn the remarks as victim blaming and to offer sympathy to the singer.
In a weekend interview with the Sunday Times about her new memoir, the 63-year-old American rocker said she takes “full responsibility” for being forced to perform sex acts under the threat of violence after a member of a motorcycle gang who offered to give her a ride to a party instead took her to a vacant house when she was 21.
“Technically speaking, however you want to look at it, this was all my doing and I take full responsibility,” Hynde told the paper. “You can’t fuck about with people, especially people who wear ‘I heart rape’ and ‘on your knees’ badges. … Those motorcycle gangs, that’s what they do.”
She continued: “You can’t paint yourself into a corner and then say ‘whose brush is this?’ You have to take responsibility,” Hynde said. “If you play with fire, you get burnt.”
In “Reckless: My Life As A Pretender,” Hynde also says that women who dress provocatively are essentially enticing rapists, saying it’s “just common sense.”
“If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk? Who else’s fault can it be?” she writes. “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.”
It’s a narrative that is universally condemned by organizations that advocate and provide resources for victims of sexual assault.
“This feeling of self-blame, described by Chrissie Hynde, can often prevent survivors from coming forward, Katherine Hull Fliflet, a spokeswoman for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, said in a statement provided to Time.
The internet has also reacted with a mix of outrage and dismay over the comments:
Many people seem furious with Chrissie Hynde, and I get why, but I feel pity for her. Imagine blaming y/self for sthg so awful for so long.
— Hadley Freeman (@HadleyFreeman) August 30, 2015
Chrissie Hynde is wrong. 100% of rapes have in fact been caused by rapists, not clothes.
— Bessemer (@Bessemerband) August 30, 2015
Chrissie Hynde’s comments just make me feel incredibly sad for the young woman she was, who even she can’t hear.
— Alison Croggon (@alisoncroggon) August 30, 2015