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Posted Sep 5th, 2015 (10:13 am) by Addison Herron-Wheeler

What do you do when a woman who has been a symbol of strength for over 30 years turns her back on her beliefs and points the finger at innocent victims?

Recently, we broke the news about some controversial comments made by Chrissie Hynde - famous punk darling of The Pretenders - in an interview with The Sunday Times. She was discussing her new tell-all when the topic of sexual abuse came up, as Hynde’s own experiences are covered in detail in the book. The nature of these comments was essentially the "she was asking for it" argument, with Hydne placing the blame for her suffering on herself as well as all victims of assault.

Carrying a heavy load. Hynde asserted that she should have known better than to hang around rough biker gangs in her younger years, and as a 60-something woman looking back at her teenage self, I can understand why she regrets her actions. But the way she phrased it – blaming her young and innocent self, saying she somehow should have known what was coming - is incredibly disturbing.

This is not the first time Hynde has discussed her abuse, and it’s not the first time people have taken issue with her view point on the matter. In a 1980 interview with Rolling Stone, she had this to say: "I had a few bad experiences, but the way I look at it now is, for every sort of act of sodomy I was forced to perform, I'm gettin' paid 10,000 pounds now...That's how I try to look at it, anyway."

A dangerous message. Joking about this may be coping mechanism for Hynde, but it sends a terrible missive to victims. The idea that money or possessions can cover the shame, anger, and hurt could not be more ignorant. And allowing those who were responsible to walk away and continue doing the same thing to other innocent women is dangerous, selfish, and atrocious. She went on to say:

"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 fuck me’, you’d better be good on your feet... I don’t think I’m saying anything controversial, am I?"

Blaming the victim. This goes too far. Hynde’s initial statement was bad enough, but implying that any clothing that is even slightly provocative is practically an open invitation to rapists is nothing but victim blaming. And don’t wear high heels? Really? The last time I checked, saying that women who wear high heels are provocative is a bit medieval. Suggesting that the women who get raped are bimbos who should have been wearing running shoes so they can escape all the out-of-control men is scary, apologetic to rapists, and downright confusing.

The fallout. As expected, this has set off quite a tumult of criticism and angry rhetoric online. Women are angry with Hynde for affirming the idea that the victim should blame themselves, they are sad for Hynde because she is obviously still so damaged, and they are hurt by the fact that one of their feminist icons would betray them so completely.

One of the most famous of these dissenters is Jackie Fuchs of The Runaways, who provided her own commentary about the issue in an article for Yahoo Music:

"I found myself being surprisingly angry,” she stated. “Don’t put your heroes on pedestals. But I don’t want to cast a stone at Chrissie Hynde — just at that one particular statement. Because it’s a really dangerous message."

The reality. Chrissie Hynde is free to deal with her own feelings in her own time, and in her own way. But laying down a blanket statement that women are in ANY way responsible for something that was done to them against their will, only serves to further damage the victim. Rape is not a choice; it is not something you invite. It is the utmost violation of free will, and no amount of clothing or poor decisions can excuse the actions of any perpetrator who commits such a heinous crime.

Chrissie, you were the voice of a generation, and I am sure your book is illuminating. You are brave for being a survivor of sexual assault. But please, start acting like it, and quit blaming yourself and other women who get attacked. The only people you should be calling out are the assholes who raped you. It’s time to stand up and be the badass we all know you are.

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