Pretenders star Chrissie Hynde says rape victims are at fault

In an interview with The Sunday Times former Pretenders front woman Chrissie Hynde suggested that rape victims can be the ones to blame. These comments followed her own story of sexual assault when she was 21 years old. She told the interviewer how a group of bikers took her to an empty house while she was high and threatened her with violence unless she performed sexual acts. “[It] was all my doing and I take full responsibility,” she said.

“If I’m being lairy and putting it about and being provocative, then you are enticing someone who is already unhinged – don’t do that.” She also adds a comment about not wearing high heels if you’re going to need to run from ‘him’. One of the issues here is how she is talking about men as if they have no control of themselves. Sure, a woman may be dressed in a way which attracts them, but if she says no, that should be clear enough, even to the ‘unhinged’.

Hynde’s comments suggest women need to change their behaviour and outfit choices if they don’t want to be sexually assaulted, which is a very backwards way to approach the issue. The victims don’t need to be taught how to not be raped, rapists need to be taught not to rape.

Summing it up in a few words - found at Banksy's Dismaland
Summing it up in a few words – found at Banksy’s Dismaland

Since the publication of the interview, Hynde, now 63, has been the centre of major criticism. However, former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe, has responded to Hynde’s comments with agreement. “It is common sense as she says, women have a duty to take care of themselves and not put themselves in precarious situations.” This is somewhat true, women do need to take care of themselves, as do men. It is common sense for anyone to make sure they’re going to be safe but women should not be discouraged from going out and drinking if they want to.

Times are changing, fashion standards have evolved and neither men nor women need to modestly cover up in public anymore. Anyone can wear what they choose to; if it’s a hot day you’ll seldom see a male with his shirt on. Why can’t women choose to wear minimal clothing too? Well they can, but sadly this makes people believe they are ‘asking for it’. Here’s a message for you, it’s 2015. Gender equality is happening, so no double standards please.

The comments made by Hynde and Widdecombe both bring the blame back to the victim. This is not where blame should lie. The bottom line is that nothing justifies rape. Not the clothes someone wears, or how they act. Men can control themselves and anyone can understand the word no.

The charity Victim Support have responded to the comments made by Chrissie Hynde saying “nothing should deter victims from coming forward to the police or to independent organisations so they can get the help and support they need,” and most importantly, that a victim of sexual assault should not blame themselves.

// Beth

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