Hynde: I’m the original feminist so don’t dare criticise me
Chrissie Hynde, the veteran American rock musician, has spoken of her anger at being labelled “antifeminist” for saying she was to blame for being raped in her youth. Speaking in the Observer New Review today, the 67-year-old front woman for the Pretenders said it had been “total bullshit” to accuse her of not being a feminist. “I don’t talk about it: I am it,” she said.
Arguing that she has “never taken a penny from a man”, Hynde said it had been a shock to have to defend herself from other women’s disapproval.
“I’ve never had anyone help me get to the top, so to be suddenly this antifeminist. Go fuck yourselves,” she said in a wide-ranging interview about her childhood, musical career and growing interest in making visual art.
The criticisms were originally levelled at the singer in 2015 in response to passages in her acclaimed rock memoir, Reckless, which describe a violent incident that took place in Ohio when she was 21. “This was all my doing and I take full responsibility,” she wrote in one chapter, explaining she had been taken into an abandoned building being used as a Hells Angels “clubhouse” by a biker and was then forced to carry out sex acts.
Groups supporting rape victims were among those to attack Hynde for suggesting that women were culpable if they made themselves vulnerable to attack.
“I wasn’t saying I was a victim,” she said this weekend. “But I was saying I was a bit of a fucking idiot. I mean you don’t walk into a bikers’ clubhouse, with a sack full of Quaaludes [downers], all padlocked up and you find out you’re the only person there. Surprise, surprise.”
One of the singer’s paintings, included in her new art book, Adding
the Blue, is an image of a blank-eyed young man with an open mouth. Hynde’s caption refers to “a certain history with some bikers”.