Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders recently created a lot of controversy with her statements regarding sexual assault, feminism, and sexuality. After describing a situation in which she was sexually assaulted by multiple men, she went on to say that she took full responsibility for it, saying: “If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk? Who else’s fault can it be? … 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. Come on! That’s just common sense. You know, if you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him.” Later on in the interview, when discussing feminism and her fellow pop stars, she said: “Women who sell what their product is by using sex – that’s prostitution. A pop star who’s walking around, parading themselves as a porn star and saying they’re feminists. They’re prostitutes. I’m not making a value judgment on prostitutes, but just say what you are.”
Obviously her statements have spawned much debate across all corners of the internet. The problem, in my opinion, is less with her statements, and more with how people have responded to her.
To be fair, these are just the top comments on one page that shared the story. There are plenty of people advocating against victim blaming and slut shaming. Despite this, there are also a great deal of people who think that she was making a fair point. A lot of these comments were written by women demeaning other women for dressing immodestly and “asking for rape.” Even more problematic is the means of arguing used by those who were against what she said, citing cases of children and old ladies being assaulted to prove that rape is about power, not sex. The problem with these arguments is that almost no one thinks that the modest deserve to get raped. They are arguing that “sluts” do.
How a woman dresses and how many people she sleeps with does not determine her worth. How attractive she is, how old she is, how flirtatious she is, does not create consent. The only way a woman can ask for it is by literally asking someone to have sex with her. What is considered modest or appropriate is completely dictated by cultural norms at the given place and time. Nothing less, nothing more.
We need to stop shying away from defending those the world would call slutty or immodest. We live in a world that demonizes consensual sex for women while justifying rape. This has to end.