I’m a mother, treat me like a mother
You want to suck on my breast, I’m so surprised you do
I’m the source and the force you owe your life to, brother
I’m a mother and I take like a mother [emphasis in the original, musically speaking]
- From “I’m a Mother” by Pretenders
Much of the rest of the song reads like fantasy feminism:
I understand time and it isn’t on my side
But to service mankind I have to suffer his pride
Like a mother…
Little sacrifices, go straight to heaven
But hunting season’s over, this is [so] the 20th century…
She prattles on about picking up dead bodies, keeping a gun, and even the never-ending pains of childbirth; but I like the song anyway. It sure would be nice if that’s what feminism was about. It sure would be great if a sharp-edged individual attitude like the one Chrissie Hynde has expressed for decades as the life-force of Pretenders was actually rewarded and supported. What Hynde may very well discover now is that feminism functions largely on orthodoxy to certain standards surrounding sacred subjects such as sexual assault. (Thankfully, it does not function on alliteration.)
Hynde is a rarity among both male and female pop artists in general. You may not care for her genre or style, but like Kate Bush, Suzanne Vega, Laurie Anderson, PJ Harvey, and Björk; she’s a musicienne with a musical conscience, whose artistry extends beyond music into philosophy, whatever that philosophy may be worth. That’s something I respect.
I also respect Hynde for completely fucking up a cow with hurt feelings whose existence is sacred to men-shamers everywhere. In an interview with some lame website that demands subscription, Hynde made a remark that, in the assumed context, comes dangerously close to victim blaming:
“The Pretenders singer, 63, said she takes ‘full responsibility’ after she was sexually assaulted aged 21 in Ohio.
“’If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk. Who else’s fault can it be?’ Hynde told Krissi Murison [emphasis mine].”
I wouldn’t go that far, especially if Hynde is not leaving out any details of what happened to her at 21. If the political Left has taught us anything at all, it’s that words are important. Saying “fault” instead of “contributing factor” or even just “consequences” implies blame, motive, responsibility, or criminality. I wouldn’t say it was Hynde’s fault that she was raped, but rather that it was her naïveté along with her general attitude and dress (or lack of it) that led to an increasingly dangerous situation getting out of hand.
This is not what her denouncers are saying, however. They are bitching about Hynde “blaming the victim;” instead of praising a truly independently-minded woman for giving girls some good tips: Don’t hang out with bikers. Don’t walk around drunk in front of a bunch of strange men in your underwear. Doing so greatly increases your chances of giving the wrong signal to a bunch of strange drunk biker dudes with dicks.
Consequently, this is how one typical headline reads: “Singer says women can be blamed for rape.” This is victim blaming, you see. Don’t deny yourselves your stupidity, ladies, or you’re blaming yourself. When wisdom equals blame, then victimology has won the discourse. These people actually want Hynde to say: “I have the right to walk around drunk in my underwear in front of a bunch of men who are known for their criminal behavior and demand their respect.”
Do you understand yet how four black men on Panama Beach during Spring Break allegedly got the wrong idea? It doesn’t matter what she’s doing, even if she’s down on your dick with lots of spit. If you took her too roughly, or she changed her mind, or the condom broke, or she gets to be on TV, or she’s drunk, or she has to explain it to her boyfriend, or she’s in a strange town in a dark alley, or you make lots of money, or she wears provocative clothing all day and night, or you’re the wrong skin color, or she’s in her underwear: you’re blaming the victim.
Hynde deserves big, kissing kudos for being the exact opposite of what her accusers claim. She is being made out to be someone who blames herself, as if she has set up a little pity party, or as if this supposed act of self-blame and implied self-shame is somehow going to keep in the way of her success. Ha HAA ha!
And another big, kissing Ha HAA ha! to anyone who dismisses Brett Butler’s amazing comeback from, quite literally, nothing. In an astounding video, Butler, formerly an astute standup comedienne-turned-TV star, blames the victim the entire time by opening up about her massive relapse at the height of her massive success. Maybe the Hynde-bashers could put down their rolling pins long enough to listen to someone who isn’t talking about the dangers of making oneself into the perfect rape victim. Butler talks a great deal about how she had it all and holds herself alone accountable for the loss of it. She even quips about how it’s like a bad country song.
If the truth-teller blaming would stop long enough, the Hynde-bashers might realize how beneficial it has been to Hynde’s mind for her to have been able to ask herself after the assault: Something really awful just happened to my body. Where was I during this process (so it doesn’t happen again)? You see, that is what a survivor thinks. That’s why Hynde has lasted so long, and why I believe Butler will yet find a peaceful place in the entertainment industry. That’s what survivors do. Time for blame later.
Feature image from Wikipedia Commons.