Chrissie Hynde should remember the old adage, if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

Days after suggesting women who "dressed provocatively" were responsible for "enticing" men to rape them, the Pretenders singer accused pop stars of promoting a "pornography culture."

"(They) call themselves feminists" Hynde said on BBC Woman's hour.

"Maybe they're feminists on behalf of prostitutes, but they are not feminists on behalf of music, if they are selling their music by bumping and grinding and wearing their underwear in videos."


Read more: Chrissie Hynde calls female pop stars 'sex workers'

Despite the fact that her comments don't really make sense - all feminism should be on behalf of sex workers and I'm not sure the abstract concept of music needs feminists on side - it's still a kind of annoying opinion, but not hugely harmful.

Hynde's swipe at younger female stars simply puts her on a growing list of second-wave feminist celebs whose ideas and interpretations of modern pop culture are boring and decades out of date, adding nothing new to feminist discourse.

Her comments about sexual assault, however, are insidious and incredibly harmful.

"If you are in a park and someone drags you in a bush and rapes you, clearly... you are a victim. If you're provoking someone... you know you need to be very careful who you are provoking," Hynde told the BBC.

"I was only talking about my own situation, saying I was being a bit reckless to be there, but I was too off my head to take responsibility."

It is important to remember that Hynde's comments about rape came from personal experience. I feel genuinely sad that she has spent 40-odd years feeling responsible for such a traumatic experience.

It is an unfortunate fact that many women do take on feelings of blame when they are sexually assaulted.


The reason why, however, is precisely because of comments like Hynde's which form a meta-narrative that says men are one skimpy hemline away from turning into out-of-control sex-monsters unable to control their actions.

Skimpy clothing is "provoking" rapists?

Interesting, then, that women aren't routinely raped at the beach. Interesting they aren't raped at the gym, considering the form-hugging attire most people work out in.

It's not skimpy clothes which cause rape. It's men who see an opportunity to commit sexual violence where they know the risk of being caught is low and the chance of being able to overpower someone is high (yes, I know #notallmen and that some women are rapists and men victims, and that's important, but a conversation for another time).

That's why most women are raped by someone they know and trust, in a place that is familiar to them. That's why women are raped in their beds, wearing their pajamas, why they're raped in spare rooms at parties by men who were supposed to be their friends. It's why they're raped by family members or adult family friends as children when no one else is around.

Is alcohol a factor - undeniably yes, but not in the straightforward way people think. Some estimates guess about half of sexual assault occurs in instances where the perpetrator, the victim, or both have been drinking.

Clearly "no one getting drunk ever again" is not a realistic solution, just as it's unrealistic to expect no woman to ever cut loose on a night out. We have issues with drinking and violence in New Zealand full stop, but being drunk does not make someone to blame for someone else's decision to harm them.

It's all too easy to react by placing the blame on a woman's actions: it reduces sexual assault to personal carelessness which can be easily dismissed, rather than recognising the serious and difficult societal issue we need to grapple with when it comes to sexual violence and how to reduce instances of it.

It's much easier to call someone a slut and say they were asking for it than to interrogate why one in five women in New Zealand has been sexually assaulted and why hardly any of them receive justice, either legal or restorative (just 13 per cent of cases recorded by police end in jail time, and that doesn't take into account cases which are never reported).

It's much easier to tell women to "be careful" than to recognise that "being careful" would actually mean women never interacting with men or being alone with them because 90 per cent of perpetrators are known to their victims.

It's also bizarre how many men seem happy to accept an argument which suggests they are so base and primal that one button too low and they are literally unable to control their actions. How insulting.

And before anyone pulls out the old "you wouldn't leave your car unlocked" adage, I urge you to reconsider the notion that a woman is equivalent to a Nissan hatchback rather than a thinking, feeling person with the right to dress however she damn well pleases. Rape is not property theft, it's sexual violence.

Finally, I'd like to say to the survivors who read Hynde's words, it's not your fault. Please, do not blame yourself for the actions of someone else. Any guilt or regret or wishing things had been different are feelings which should belong entirely to someone else. It's not your fault.

Read more: Feminists who won't accept facts on rape