Legendary rock star Chrissie Hynde has faced an avalanche of criticism after reportedly saying that women who dress provocatively are enticing rapists. The 63-year-old former lead singer of The Pretenders also said she blamed herself for being sexually assaulted by members of one of Ohio's "leather-clad gangs" when she was younger.
While discussing her autobiography Reckless in an interview with The Sunday Times, Hynde spoke about being forced to perform sexual acts under the threat of violence when she was "spaced out" on drugs aged 21. But she refused to apportion any blame on the gang, instead she criticised herself for being "naïve" and warned other women not to complain if they dress provocatively and end up in trouble.
She said to the Sunday Times Magazine: "Technically speaking, however you want to look at it, this was all my doing and I take full responsibility. 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."
When Hynde was questioned on whether the gang took advantage of her vulnerability, she replied: "If you play with fire you get burnt. It's not any secret, is it?" Hynde went on to say that women who dress provocatively while walking down the street drunk are also to blame if they are attacked.
"If I'm walking around in my underwear and I'm drunk? Who else's fault can it be?" She explained: "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. 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 f*** me', you'd better be good on your feet… I don't think I'm saying anything controversial am I?"
Her comments, however, have been condemned by the charity Victim Support who said that victims "should not blame themselves", according to the Mirror. Lucy Hastings, the charity's director, said: "Victims of sexual violence should never feel or be made to feel that they were responsible for the appalling crime they suffered – regardless of circumstances or factors which may have made them particularly vulnerable.
"They should not blame themselves or be blamed for failing to prevent an attack – often they will have been targeted by predatory offenders who are responsible for their actions," she added. "It is critical that nothing deters victims of sexual violence from coming forward to the police or to independent organisations so they can get the help and support they need."
Meanwhile, Twitter users were quick to criticise Hynde's comments. Nicola King said she was "disappointed", while Sam Wingrove described her words as "unbelievable" and "dangerous".
Disappointed to see reports of Chrissie Hynde's interview on the news saying clothes worn by women may encourage rape.
— Nicola King (@nicolapking) August 30, 2015
Unbelievable and dangerous nonsense spouted by Chrissie Hynde on justification of rape. When are we going to get this right?!?
— Sam Wingrove (@samwins001) August 30, 2015