I am really sad. I think I am mostly angry, but also sad. I think my husband Chris is too, but for different reasons… basically the whole Depp/Heard trial is the main conversation I keep returning to no matter what the original topic was and he keeps receiving similar messages in different tones and volumes. And a lot of swearing.
I didn't really want to comment on it at first because I really try to avoid the urge to have an opinion on everything (in public, if you know me, you know that in private I am definitely ok with that). Also, I didn't feel that I knew enough about this case, but since then not only I have learnt more but mostly I have been increasingly outraged about the way the world is reacting.
I guess I can no longer use Chris alone as an outlet for my rage ,so following my own advice to trust the power of conversations, I am here, in front of the computer, determined to have a conversation with as many of you as possible.
I know that a lot of men, probably a lot of abusive men and the whole manosphere is clapping at the implications of this trial. They were right all along! Women are manipulative gold diggers that abuse men. Women are histrionical liars. Women are as bad as men, actually women are worse. Apparently this believing women thing was going to far (even if the statistics of rape, men violence against women and femicide are quite black and white) and Johnny Depp is the hero they needed to prove just that.
But this is not what this trial is about. Well, it is, under the desguise of being about something else. This case is not about domestic violence. He is not suing her for what she allegedly did, he is suing her for defamation. Despite losing his case in the UK in 2020 when he sued The Sun newspaper for the same reason.
This whole trial is based on an article from 2018 in which she talked about HER experience as a woman victim of domestic abuse in the public eye. She doesn’t give examples of her marriage; she doesn’t mention Johnny Depp. But she dared to speak up about the way society protects men in general, powerful men in particular. She talked about how speaking up means that you are the one in trial, and somehow, maybe unsurprisingly, he felt an urge to punish her for it.
In the case against the Sun the judge determined that 12 of the 14 cases that she brought forward were proven. There was no defamation because there were no lies in the implications. “I have found that the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms. Heard by Mr. Depp have been proved to the civil standard. … I also accept that Ms. Heard’s allegations have had a negative effect on her career as an actor and activist.” End of story. And that was against a newspaper that called him, identifying him by name, “wife beater”. The case he would need to win now is against an article that doesn’t even mention him. It seems like a long shot.
But in fairness, the money he wants her to pay him or the possibility to win is almost anecdotical. He knows he will most likely lose (and not because the system doesn’t like men to get off the hook) but it doesn’t matter because the aim of this trial is gathering support in the public eye, it is about changing a narrative and mostly is about punishing her and telling the world that she deserved it. That women, sometimes, deserve it.
I am not saying that she didn’t do anything wrong during the relationship, what I am saying is that this is not what is on trial at the moment, although people seem to think that it is. I am also saying that I refuse to participate in a culture in which we blame the victims.
What he did to her is proven by a court of law after a lot of investigation. What she did or didn’t do is irrelevant in this context, unless we want to tell the world that abuse is ok if you deserve it. Unless we are willing to accept the idea of the perfect victim - the maternal one, the caring one, the one that doesn’t fight back. The one that is selfless and easy and submissive and YET she gets abused. Why is this conversation turning into who gets to be socially accepted as a good victim of domestic violence? And how good is good enough?
We see this all the time. A woman gets raped, and society starts questioning if she was drunk, if she had flirted with him, if she said no loud enough. We ask if the skirt was too revealing. Because if any of those were true, or even worse, if all of them were true, then who is she to ruin his life? Why is she not taking her part of responsibility? At the very least her part.
What is important to understand here is the wider implications of this case. It is problematic that to have this conversation at all we have the desperate need to concede that “she too is bad” or that “they are both toxic”. Why do we need to collectively agree that she is awful, before we can even start making our point? Why is punishing her the very minimum required to address any of the other problems if you want to maintain the public façade that you are not going too far? The way this case works, and the way we are all reacting around this case, affects every woman because it fuels the same misogyny that already affects every woman.
This is a very loud message for all victims that says, “are you sure you didn’t deserve it? Are you willing to put your whole life in trial just for speaking up? Knowing that you will be silenced, medicalised, ridiculed, and ostracised. Do you want to speak up that much? Would you take your chances knowing that no matter what the outcome you will always have more to lose than to win?”
And what is even scarier is that this is an even a louder message for all abusers. This trial tells them that they don’t have to put up with women fighting them back, that they can turn this around and still become the heroes of their stories, the ones deserving the sympathy and support. That there is a further outlet to keep women in line. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Marylin Manson, Johnny Depp’s matching-tattoo friend, is also suing for defamation against those who held him accountable.
I have OF COURSE no problem with men who bring forward cases of domestic abuse, I think it takes bravery and vulnerability in a world in which toxic masculinity forces men to never come across as weak, ESPECIALLY never weaker than a woman. I think that men can be victims of domestic abuse by their partners. But again, this is not a case of domestic violence, this is a trial for defamation. What the court is being asked to decide is if Amber Heard knowingly lied in her article, therefore acting in bad faith and damaging his career in doing so.
But to understand this we need to understand that Johnny Depp’s style of work (from hitting a crew member, to arriving drugged and drunk to the studio, or his stupidly expensive demands or the fact that he can’t be bothered learning the lines of his scripts, prefering someone to read them to him through an earpiece) is what has potentially cost Depp his career. Hollywood doesn’t punish misogynistic powerful men, the public don’t stop watching films, or praising men’s arts or their capacity to play a sport “JUST” because they have abused a woman, not even many women. What Hollywood punishes hard is investing money on films that don’t bring the money back, and that was what Johnny Depp was delivering. The belief that women have the capacity to destroy a man’s career with false allegations is just not true. It takes lots of brave women to come forward, to be scrutinised, to show evidence, to be hurt and harmed in the whole process for anything to happen at all. Just for it to be all forgotten shortly after a vague apology. We see it with disbelief time after time. As long as they maintain their capacity to make money they are generally received with “Just stay quiet for a bit, then we will bring you back, with your image restored, you will be bigger than before son, don’t you worry.”
There are so many things that I want to talk about here, so many “LET’S NOT FORGET ABOUT THIS!” really important points. For example, the fact that he was 46, really famous and rich and she wasn’t any of the above and was 23 when they started dating. The fact that he also started dating a 17 year old Winona Ryder when he was 24, a 20 years old Kate Moss when he was 31, and Polina Glen when she was in her early 20s and he was in his mid 50s. Unbalanced power in a relationship is important when trying to put things in context. Why is what Amber did or didn’t do the only context people feel they need to understand the situation?
What about the fact that no normal person, no matter how witty or “abstract” their sense of humour is, sends the horrendous messages that he sent when referring to women. Have we lost all our capacity of react to misogyny to such an extent that we think it is excusable in any shape or form to say “Let’s drown her before we burn her. I will f**k her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead’ or “I have no mercy, no fear and not an ounce of emotion or what I once thought was love for this gold digging, low level, dime a dozen, mushy, pointless dangling overused flappy fish market …”.
He, himself, has admitted how in order to be good he needed to “lock up the monster”. There are texts of him praising her efforts to get him detoxed and admitting how hard it must have been for her and how he wouldn’t be alive without her. We have seen confessions in texts of what it is undeniable abuse YET we feel that we NEED to know what she did too because, there is a possibility that she was as bad (or hopefully even worse), and if that were the case he should be excused of any accountability. Then we can direct our anger and repulsion to her. We can keep talking about how they both deserved each other. How it wasn’t abuse.
It feels that we could talk too about the way her mental health was called into question to invalidate her, including her “histrionic personality disorder’ that among other things included “a lot of cruelty”, “very concerned with her image”, plays “a victim or princess role” is “overly flirtatious” and acts in “an overly girly way”to “avoid getting negative feedback or criticism”. It was common in the 18th and 19th century for women to be diagnosed with “hysteria” when stepping outside out societal expectations… are we really going back to this in the public eye?
And of course we could go on and on about all the many things that are making this trial a misogynistic circus.
It made my stomach turn when I read Javier Bardem’s words, “I love Johnny because he is a good human being, trapped in the lies and manipulations of toxic beings and yet smiling and loving us all in spite of it. How? Through his music, through his acting, through his silence. This means a lot. Thank you Johnny. Millions of others like me love you deeply.”
Javier Bardem, who said, when he was asked about the #metoo movement, that although overall it was positive, we needed to be careful about “online lynching” and talked about the importance letting serious matters be dealt with in court. I guess he meant only for men, because what happens now, when the courts have already accepted as proven 12 cases of domestic violence? What happens when the one at the other side of the lynching is no longer a powerful man but an “easy to hate” woman?
Johnny Depp defended Polanski, He made Marylin Manson the god father of his daughter and tried to buy some nazi memorabilia with him, and in his list of great friends there are other proven abusers… there is a pattern of powerful men defending other powerful men, and this trial is a very obvious way to show how far and low they are willing to go for the world to respect the impunity that they think they deserve for their actions.
I want to finish with the great words of the awesome Clementine Ford who is doing a great job on Instagram covering the whole trial,
“We don’t need men to protect women, we need men to stop protecting each other.”