I think we can do with a little disclaimer before you start reading this piece. We’re all victims of internalised misogyny, so I would request you to check it at the door before you come for me for my opinions.
So Johnny Depp, who has suddenly become the unofficial face of the World Men’s Rights movement, won a case against his ex-wife Amber Heard. A case where he had sued her for supposedly calling him an abuser in an article. Not that he didn’t abuse her, he just didn’t like it that she wrote about it.
I’m not going to argue who was right or who was wrong. Or even break down statistics and facts that prove mutual abuse is a myth (you can read more about it here where experts who are not just exhausted and angry 28-year-olds explain it more coherently). The only thing that has stood out starkly, amongst a sea of lurid details of a toxic relationship, is that we really hate women.
A quick search on any social media platform will yield millions of results under the hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp, while the only ones mentioning Heard’s name are along the lines of #AmberHeardIsCancelled or #AmberHeardIsTrash.
Thousands and thousands of Instagram Reels and TikToks have been dedicated to mock Heard’s testimony, with some being emo edits of the former couple’s scenes from the movie The Rum Diary (2011) stitched together with dramatic captions like “The moment it all went downhill”. For whom? Why are we, people who have never met nor interacted with these virtual strangers, with most of us being privileged enough to have never experienced abuse of any kind (physical or mental), so quick to jump and defend the man who has the resources and reach to easily turn the public opinion in his favour? Who made us the experts?
There are some who had taken to analysing Heard’s body language during the trial. According to these overnight experts, Heard didn’t seem convincing enough to be a victim. She was smiling too much or she was clearly over acting when she ‘pretended’ to be scared of Depp in the court.
The only logical conclusion that I have been able to derive from the absolute trashcan fire of a trial that this has been is that we cherry-pick the victims we want to believe in. My Instagram feed for the past few days, like many others, has largely been filled with people sharing Depp’s photos with variations of ‘Justice Won’.
To me, and you might disagree with this, this is a subconscious punishment of the #MeToo movement where men, and a lot of women, were forced to believe women, at least on social media to preserve their woke credentials. With Depp and Heard’s publicised trial, they got an opportunity to unleash the internalised misogyny and create as many horrid memes and TikToks as they can making light of Heard’s trauma (which is non-existent in their eyes).
As I stated earlier, I’m not going to argue whether or not Depp was an abuser or whether Heard has been lying all along. What concerns me, and should concern you as well, are the people celebrating this as a victory for abuse victims all around the world. If people were really concerned about the abuse that was in the center of this whole case, would they really be making jokes about it?
where is/was the support for brenden fraser? terry crews? anthony rapp and all of spacey’s other victims? the countless male victims of powerful people in hollywood? this is NOT about you people caring about male victims.— L (@C00LGlRL) June 2, 2022
Leave Heard aside for a minute, what does this say about the future of domestic abuse victims coming forward and speaking up about their suffering? Not all the victims are privileged or powerful enough to withstand a long-drawn trial where they have to prove that they were not ‘defaming’ a man just because they can. According to The Independent, women have already started withdrawing pending domestic abuse cases fearing that they would be countersued for defamation. Now whether your mind instantly went to the possibility that these terrified women are actually withdrawing their cases because they faked it all along or you instinctively understood the fear and uncertainty in your own self that comes from years of abuse, would tell you everything you need to understand about where you stand on the whole ‘we as a society hate women instinctively’ discussion.
Even though the cases are not exactly similar, the very public bashing of Rhea Chakraborty post-Sushant Singh Rajput’s death by suicide points towards this exact instinctive dislike of women who are not ‘likeable’ in our opinions. The major highlights from Chakrobarty’s case were that she allegedly took drugs and possibly provided them to Rajput as well, and the fact that she was only interested in his money and status as a successful Bollywood star. These two ‘facts’ were enough to make her the villain in this scenario. In Heard’s case, the fact that she accused a beloved international superstar of something as horrid as physical and mental abuse was proof that she was just doing it for the attention it brought her. The cherry on the top of this garbage-flavoured cake was the very strong chance that she could have been an abuser in the relationship as well.
Depp’s legal victory has given other accused abusers, like Pakistani actor and singer Ali Zafar, the audacity to come forth and cry about the art we have missed out on because Depp was embroiled in a trial for being called an abuser.
Even a true empath could only understand a small percentage of what Johnny Depp must’ve gone through. The truth remains that no verdict or amount of money can bring him back 6 prime years of his life. The art he could’ve produced. Smiles he could’ve brought. #JohnnyDepphttps://t.co/374b2dlMGN— Ali Zafar (@AliZafarsays) June 2, 2022
Singer Sona Mohapatra declared that “selfish” women like Heard can set back years of progress women have made.
She & her club of few selfish women,setback the 💯 of 1000’s of genuine cases of women who get the shorter end of the stick across the https://t.co/mxRHV3dTyo if things weren’t tough enough in the uphill climb to change systems to be fairer, a #AmberHeard comes to spit on it all https://t.co/ROMla6Cl0N— Sona Mohapatra (@sonamohapatra) June 2, 2022
What progress? If you see any progress in people rushing to defend the rights of a man, proven in a court of law to have abused his partner, just because he is a passably good actor, and creating vindictive hate campaigns against a woman who was abused, then we have very different definitions of ‘progress’, I’m afraid.
Anyone, especially women, who have been speaking up against Depp’s victory have been labelled as a misandrist. It doesn’t bother me, I have little time to worry about offended men. What worries me is how easy it is to take away from rational arguments and facts by putting them under a blanket term like that. Because if you think rationally, none of these men or women who are actively jumping up to defend Depp’s honour are actually concerned with the truth. It’s all optics. Depp and his legal team were well aware of this and used it superbly in their favour. This is why it was never about who was the abuser and who was the victim. It was always about the display of power over women. And if you don’t believe that, then we’re living in two different realities.