Chrissie Hynde, the lead singer of The Pretenders, believes she is at fault for her own rape.
“This was all my doing,” she says of her sexual assault in her new book Reckless. The backlash has been swift on social media, where many have been quick to point out that victim-blaming transfers responsibility away from the assailant.
Hyde, now 63, was raped when she was 21 by a member of a motorcycle gang in Ohio who, after offering her a ride to a party, took her to an empty house and assaulted her. In an interview with the Sunday Times magazine, Hynde said she does not blame her attacker.
“Technically speaking, however you want to look at it, this was all my doing and I take full responsibility,” Hynde 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,” Hynde added. “I mean, I was naive.”
“If you play with fire, you get burnt. It’s not any secret, is it?” she concluded.
In the interview, she takes a similar stance on other women’s sexual assaults, writing that women who wear revealing clothes are “asking for it.”
“If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk? Who else’s fault can it be?” Hynde says. “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.”
Hynde’s assessment runs contrary to the messaging used by most organizations to prevent sexual assault and help survivors, like RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
“This feeling of self-blame, described by Chrissie Hynde, can often prevent survivors from coming forward and getting the support that they deserve,” Katherine Hull Fliflet, VP of Communications at RAINN, said in a statement. “Regardless of the circumstances surrounding a sexual assault, a victim is never to blame. The responsibility always lies solely with the perpetrator, no matter what.”
Former fans of the star and critics expressed their disappointment on Twitter.
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly attributed a quote by Chrissie Hynde. She said “If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk? Who else’s fault can it be?” in an interview with the Sunday Times.