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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Chrissie Hynde Needs to Quit Being So Proud of Her Own Misogyny

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 11:23 AM

  • Chrissie Hynde Music / Instagram

Last week, when Chrissie Hynde told the UK's Sunday Times that her rape, at the age of 21, by a biker gang, was her own fault, we thought she was probably just in desperate need of some counseling. Yes, the victim-blaming language she used in the interview was maddening and appalling — "If you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him" and "If I’m being very lairy and putting it about and being provocative, then you are enticing someone" were particularly horrifying — but, based on the fact that it is extremely common for rape survivors to blame themselves for what has happened to them, we were able to feel some sympathy towards Hynde. This is a person who suffered a deeply traumatizing act and probably never sought the appropriate help to deal with it.   

Hynde's words last week were extraordinarily disappointing, but we hoped it would be a one-off blip in what has been a stellar 36-year career that has inspired generations of women around the world, to pick up guitars and carve out paths within rock 'n' roll too. In the 1980s, in a sea of dudes, Chrissie Hynde stood out as the coolest of customers, unconcerned with the constraints of traditional gender roles, or, frankly, what anyone thought of her. Which goes some way to explaining why Hynde not only didn't back down from the comments she made in the Times, but also made matters worse this week, by managing to insult both sex workers and sexually expressive female pop stars as well.

In a new interview with BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, Hynde stated: ‘I don’t think sexual assault is a gender issue as such, I think it’s very much all around us now. It’s provoked by this pornography culture, it’s provoked by pop stars who call themselves feminists. Maybe they’re feminists on behalf of prostitutes – but they are no feminists on behalf of music, if they are selling their music by bumping and grinding and wearing their underwear in videos. That’s a kind of feminism – but, you know, you’re a sex worker is what you are."


The first thought that springs to mind is how odd it is that Chrissie Hynde would object to scantily clad female pop artists identifying as feminists, when she clearly has such a misogyny problem herself. Could teenage girls use more women in music who didn't overtly sexualize themselves on stage all the time? Sure — some balance would be nice. But you can't tell women they're not feminists just because they're not wearing as many clothes as you would like. You can't tell Beyonce that she doesn't believe in social, political, and economic equality for the sexes just because she's wearing a leotard. And you certainly can't fucking tell her she's a "sex worker" because of it.

Hynde holding female pop stars singularly accountable for the pornification of American culture is also absurd on a number of levels. (Don't worry! All those dudes singing graphically about fucking all the time have nothing to do with this!) It is frankly astounding that it hasn't occurred to Hynde that the most provocative artists today might be responding to the pornification of culture, rather than being the root cause of it — which is quite obviously related to the fact that we live in a time where porn is the most accessible it has ever been in history.

The other horrendous thing in Hynde's little diatribe is the fact that she is so dismissive of prostitutes and other sex workers. Saying sexually assertive pop stars are "feminists on behalf of prostitutes" doesn't just imply that feminists aren't ordinarily concerned with the treatment and rights of sex workers already (which is entirely false), it suggests that sex workers themselves can't be feminists. 

It's frustrating to watch a female icon of Chrissie Hynde's stature using her voice and privilege to shit on entire groups of other women from such a great height, and scapegoating women for all of the cultural and societal issues she is uncomfortable with. Mostly though, it is impossible to understand how a human so concerned with animal rights has almost no understanding of, or empathy for, the complex lives of fellow women.

If you or someone you know needs help dealing with issues relating to sexual assault, please contact 
San Francisco Women Against Rape's 24-hour hotline at 415-647-7273.
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