The singer Chrissie Hynde has prompted outrage by saying that it can be a woman’s fault if she is raped.
Revealing her own experience of sexual assault, the Pretenders frontwoman, 63, said she still blames herself for being forced to perform sexual acts under the threat of violence.
She said she took full responsibility for what happened when she was 21, when members of a motorbike gang in her native Ohio promised to take her to a party but instead took her to an empty house.
“Technically speaking, however you want to look at it, this was all my doing and I take full responsibility,” she said. “You can’t f*** about with people, especially people who wear ‘I Heart Rape’ and ‘On Your Knees’ badges ... those motorcycle gangs, that’s what they do. You can’t paint yourself into a corner and then say whose brush is this? You have to take responsibility. I mean, I was naive.”
When asked whether the gang took advantage of her vulnerability, she replied: “If you play with fire you get burnt. It’s not any secret, is it?”
Hynde said it was “just silly” to place sole responsibility on the attackers, if women were drunk or dressed provocatively. “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?”
#ChrissieHynde on rape: "I mean, I was naive." Oh, does that make it better??
Her comments, reported in The Sunday Times Magazine, were condemned by women’s charities and equality campaigners, who have been calling for years for warning messages to be focused on telling men not to rape as opposed to placing the responsibility on women.
On Twitter, many fans said they were appalled by Hynde’s comments, though some expressed sympathy for what she had been through, and pointed to the irony of blaming a victim of sexual assault for blaming the victims.
Charlotte Barlow, a lecturer in criminology at Birmingham City University, who specialises in the study of sexual violence, said: “The fact that Chrissie herself, as a victim, has internalised those feelings of blame to make sense of what happened to her, is really very sad. When somebody high profile says these things it only serves to perpetuate the rape myth that the victim is somehow responsible.”
@oreil_m camille paglia said something over 20 years ago not unlike what chrissie hynde said.
Sarah Green, of the End Violence against Women Coalition, said that Hynde’s refusal to condemn her attackers was typical of someone who had experienced sexual violence.
“It is not at all unusual for a survivor to spend months, years going over, ‘Was that my fault? Did I make that happen?’ Women are not to blame for assaults regardless of what they are wearing or if they have had a lot to drink.”
Polly Neate, the chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “It doesn’t matter what lifestyle you lead or what you wear — rape is never the victim’s fault. Chrissie Hynde’s experience was not her fault.”