Chrissie Hynde Defends Victim Blaming Rape Comments, With Bonus Racism

by Dawn Day


Chrissie Hynde is still defending the victim blaming comments she made after there release of her memoir Reckless, only this time she has added a sprinkle of racism on top. Hynde, the iconic front-woman of The Pretenders, was fairly defensive and rude during her interview yesterday morning with NPR‘s David Greene. 

Greene asked Hynde to describe some of the experiences she wrote about in her book–like the time she was assaulted by a group of bikers and proceeded to take responsibility for it. Greene also asks her about comments she made in The Sunday Times of London where she alluded to the idea that wearing provocative clothing is asking for sexual assault. 

“I’d rather say, just don’t buy the f****** book, then, if I’ve offended someone. Don’t listen to my records. Cause I’m only telling you my story, I’m not here trying to advise anyone or tell anyone what to do or tell anyone what to think, and I’m not here as a spokesperson for anyone. I’m just telling my story. So the fact that I’ve been — you know, it’s almost like a lynch mob,” Hynde told NPR

A lynch mob. 

Definitely a reckless choice of words on Hynde’s part. Hynde being a white woman and all, she probably should not be referring to herself as the target of a lynch mob given the historical context of the word referring to racist groups like the Klu Klux Klan murdering black people by lynching them. So no, Chrissie Hynde, I don’t think your position of privilege allows you to compare your Internet haters to groups of racists that took the lives of countless innocent people of color. 

With these recent comments, not only is she maintaining her point-of-view on victim blaming, she’s also handing the Internet another phrase to smear all over headlines since she compared her critics to a lynch mob–definitely not a phrase that should ever be used lightly. 

It would be easy for me to post an angry reaction to these thoughtless comments from a woman who refuses to acknowledge that her songs empowered women and was blatantly difficult during her NPR interview. But, The Atlantic published a commentary about the Hynde mess, which I can’t stop thinking about. Sophie Gilbert wrote a piece that asks readers to think about if shaming Hynde for her comments is essentially re-victimizing her. 

Gilbert reported that anger is the fastest spreading emotion on social media. I’ve been known to write an angry tweet or comment or blog post–you probably have been too, some of you might even angry comment on this post. We all know that the Internet breeds trolls who share their contrary opinions on every topic from important political pieces all the way to listicles about pumpkin recipes. Anger about a news item spreads like wildfire, and disappears just as quickly. Soon it’s old news, and we’re all fired up about something else. 

So instead of getting angry about Hynde’s latest spew of words, I am going to take this opportunity to tell you why victim blaming is not okay. 

By saying that a person’s rape is his or her fault for dressing too provocatively, drinking too much, staying out too late or hanging around with too rowdy a crowd, you are victim blaming. This is an aspect of rape culture that often times people (Hynde included) call acting with “common sense.” By saying that the way a person dresses is linked to “asking” for rape is sympathizing with this idea that rapists have this animalistic urge that they cannot resist acting on if somebody tempts them with their body. Nobody ever deserves to have another person violate their body. There is no excuse for rapists. 

Unfortunately until there are meaningful shifts away from things like sexualizing women in the mainstream media, there is this looming idea in some minds that women are only here to provide sexual gratification, and they do not deserve to have a choice in the matter–especially if they are placing themselves on a silver platter in a “racy” outfit. 

It is imperative that we take these opportunities to point out lapses in our culture’s understanding of rape victims and advocate for things like a national affirmative consent policy, improved sex education in schools and higher rates of rapists brought to justice.

To me, “common sense” is not to rape someone. But instead of getting angry at Chrissie Hynde for continuing to sympathize with her attackers and take responsibility for the atrocious assault she experienced, let’s start a different conversation (minus the racist remarks) about fixing society’s twisted rape culture. Heaven knows that would be more productive than angry tweeting. 

Photo via Chrissie Hynde. 

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