Chrissie Hynde Hits Back at Critics Who Call Her a ‘Victim Shamer’

The Pretenders singer opens up about being sexually assaulted.

September 15, 2015, 11:19 AM

— -- Chrissie Hynde, the lead singer of The Pretenders, once known for topping Billboard charts with hits like “I’ll Stand By You,” is now sparking controversy with her new tell-all book, “Reckless: My Life As a Pretender,” in which she blames herself for being sexually assaulted.

“I told my story the way I saw it and I’m not here to advise anyone or validate myself or justify anything,” Hynde, 64, told ABC News’ Linsey Davis. “I said I regret a lot of things I did.”

Hynde, a native of Akron, Ohio, reveals in her autobiography that she was raped by a gang of bikers, writing, “This was all my doing and I take full responsibility. You can’t f*** about with people, especially people who wear ‘I Heart Rape’ badges.”

But critics pounced on Hynde’s writing and accused her of victim-shaming.

Hadley Freeman, a columnist for the U.K.’s The Guardian, tweeted she felt pity for Hynde, writing, “Many people seem furious with Chrissie Hynde, and I get why, but I feel pity for her. Imagine blaming y/self for sthg so awful for so long.”

Many people seem furious with Chrissie Hynde, and I get why, but I feel pity for her. Imagine blaming y/self for sthg so awful for so long.

— Hadley Freeman (@HadleyFreeman) August 30, 2015

Asked by Davis about the public outcry to her writings, Hynde replied, “You know, suddenly I’m defending rape.”

“You know, I went to some places no intelligent person would have gone,” she said. “These bikers I was talking about, they were dealing in some real hard drugs and some criminal activity.”

Hynde also clarified the impression that she was saying that woman who dress provocatively are “asking” to be sexually assaulted.

“I never said that,” Hynde said. “I think that women who dress provocatively are asking for something. They’re asking for some sort of…why do you dress provocatively?”

Hynde said that rape is not really her subject but she is happy to talk about today’s pop stars making what Hynde describes as sexually explicit videos.

“To me, it’s pornographic, yeah, when you’re in your underwear and you’re bumping and grinding and singing your song,” Hynde said.

“I’m not trying to criticize other women, I’m just saying if you’re selling it through sex, then don’t say you’re a feminist on behalf of music,” she said. “Because I think little girls get very confused by that.”

Hynde’s memoir reinforces the notion that sex, drugs and rock and roll are in inseparable trio.

“Reckless” details Hynde’s obsession with rock music, her addiction to drugs and her love affair with London, where she still walks the streets with little fanfare.

Today, Hynde says she is completely drug-free and still unapologetically herself, still rocking out and performing.

“I’m glad I did what I did,” she said of her life. “Because I did what I wanted to do, which was to get in a band."

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