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Laura Keynes: Rock chick Chrissie Hynde tells Jenni Murray the facts of life. Today’s feminists are just pretending


I’ve always loved Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. She’s my kind of chick. I once attempted to cultivate her distinctive fringe, but it turns out I wasn’t rock n roll enough to put up with having hair in my eyes all day. But I digress.

Chrissie Hynde is in the news again because she’s got a book out, Reckless, in which she mentions being sexually assaulted by a motorbike gang. She hit the headlines for saying she carried some responsibility for the attack by putting herself in that position, which is heresy to the feminist brigade, who immediately “called her out” for “victim blaming”, to use their parlance.

Interviewed on Wimmin’s Hour in a fantastically tense and spiky interview with Jenni Murray, Hynde defended herself: “All I said was in my case I shouldn’t have been there, that’s all I said.” When Jenni Murray pressed her about “rape culture”, Hynde responded tetchily, as if spelling it out for someone particularly hard of understanding: “It depends on the situation, obviously”, she said as she drew the distinction between a woman walking through a public park who gets dragged into the bushes by a stranger, versus a woman who provokes someone with a known history. “There’s a million degrees. In my own situation, I was a bit reckless being there.”

In the interview, which I recommend to TCW readers, Hynde took the opportunity to question the legacy of the sexual revolution, calling sexual liberation a “false commodity”. She said: “I don’t think it’s liberating at all to think that you can behave like a man… Actually, women don’t act like men and they also respond emotionally very differently to men. I don’t think it was any kind of liberation. I think it was more enslavement.” Vive la difference!

But Hynde went on to cause more faux outrage with some remarks seemingly directed at pop princesses like Miley Cyrus and Rihanna, among others, saying that rape culture is “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’re not feminists on behalf of music if they’re selling their music by bumping and grinding and wearing their underwear on videos. You’re a sex worker is what you are. It’s provocative in a way that has nothing to do with music, and I’d say those women are responsible for a great deal of damage.”

She’s spot on. I’ll never forget going into a gym one day and looking up at the bank of TV monitors there for gym users entertainment. It was wall-to-wall football and soft porn, aka Sky Sports and MTV. “What are women supposed to watch?” I asked one of the gym attendants, hoping he could change the channel on one monitor at least, since the majority of gym users that day were women. “There’s MTV”, he said, gesturing up as Rihanna gyrated in her underwear on screen. It didn’t seem to occur to him that this might not appeal to women in the same way as it did to men. Not had it seemingly occurred to the scores of other young women using the gym: I was the only one who had ever complained, apparently. Today’s body conscious young woman will, it seems, happily complain about “body shaming” adverts like this one but not porny music videos.

Miley Cyrus and Rihanna and their ilk are promoted on prime time programmes like X-Factor. Teen culture is saturated with it. Your sons and daughters are watching this stuff, and they think nothing of it. Millions of kids think it’s as innocuous as wall paper.

Good on Chrissie Hynde for telling it like it is. I’d say she’s the real feminist in the room. The outraged lynch mob are just pretenders.


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Laura Keynes
Laura Keynes
Dr Keynes is a Cambridge-based academic, writer and critic with two very young children. She writes for Standpoint magazine, the Catholic Herald and The Tablet. Find her on twitter @LMKeynes.

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