Last weekend, the Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde caused a big stir by saying some pretty indefensible rape victim-blaming stuff (“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”) in an interview in support of her upcoming memoir Reckless: My Life As A Pretender. Her remarks were widely criticized, for good reason, but the situation was complicated by the heartbreaking fact that Hynde herself was assaulted when she was 21, an experience that she writes about in her book and which thus precipitated this whole controversy.
Today, the singer responded to her critics in a new interview with The Washington Post: “They’re entitled to say whatever they want. Do I regret saying it? I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it.” She stated that although she doesn’t read things written about her, she’s “just had some e-mails from friends saying, ‘Do you want to hide at my place?'” And when her statements were read back to her, this is what she had to say:
Sounds like common sense … If you don’t want my opinion, don’t ask me for it. At the moment, we’re in one of the worst humanitarian crises in our lifetime. [You see that picture of] a Turkish policeman carrying the body of a 3-year-old boy who got washed up on the shore. These are the heartbreaking images we have and we’re talking about millions of displaced persons and people whose families have been destroyed and we’re talking about comments that I allegedly made about girls in their underwear.”
Hynde also talked some more about her own attack. Here’s that portion of the interview:
The reason we’re talking about rape at all is because of what happens with you and that biker gang. They take you into a kind of abandoned building, and you’re effectively raped.
I would say there was an element of sexual assault, but frankly, if you go into the club house of the world’s most notorious bikers, it’s not going to be for a Bible reading.
But you also have a second situation where you’re hitchhiking and you get drugged and end up naked in this guy’s place not really knowing what’s happening.
But I knocked on the guy’s car door and said, ‘Can you give me a lift?’ to a stranger. What was I thinking?
Fair enough, but on a basic level, I feel bad reading about what happened when you were younger. You have a daughter. I have a daughter. I don’t want her in that house with those bikers.
I know, but most people aren’t as stupid as me. I wouldn’t expect most people to do some of the stuff I did. But then again, most people don’t get to be a rock star, either. We have to walk the plank. I don’t think that’s a sign of intelligence, I don’t know what it is a sign of. I’m not saying I was asking for it. It wasn’t the same as walking down a street in the middle of a nice evening and somebody dragging you into a bush with a knife in your throat.
And here’s an encapsulation of what she was trying to accomplish with her autobiography:
I would like it to be a picture of what happened in America in the 1960s and how it affected a couple of generations. It’s not so much my story. I think it’s more a story of what happened to all of us. And I have a voice and a guy who works in Lucky Shoes in Akron may not have that voice. It’s the same way as making a record. You give voice to something that someone else wasn’t able to do. That’s the best you can hope for. Hit a chord with someone. I don’t know. I’m not a philosopher. I’m just a rock singer. And now a leading authority on rape.
In the full interview, she also discusses her writing process, her experiences with drugs, and her hometown of Akron, Ohio, among other things. Read it here.
Reckless: My Life As A Pretender arrives in bookstores 9/8.