If you have not been living under a rock, the Amber Heard vs Johnny Depp trial has certainly taken up precious screen time on your Instagram feed, Twitter timeline or YouTube recommendations. It has almost been impossible to escape, no matter how much you tried. Thus, many of us have been caught up in it, few others have discarded this trial as a “celebrity issue“ not worthwhile of discussion among “regular people“.
But actually, this case and its outcome are relevant for all women and all people regardless of the frivolous celebrity and ridiculously high amount of money fought over at this trial. The modern witch hunt that Amber Heard faced and the verdict ruling in the powerful man’s favor is no phenomenon exclusive to the upper class of society – it is actually crucial that we point out that what Amber Heard is facing is a wrath that women of the lower classes face tenfold, in a much more violent way, in a much more vulnerable way and in a much less publicized way; mostly due to the lack of resources at their disposal compared to women like Heard. Therefore it is important for us to give this highly discussed topic a much needed class perspective especially in regards to future repercussions for victims of abuse and the way to go forward.
The public nature of the trial has exposed the most disturbing details of Heard and Depp’s relationship and has once again posed a challenge to our society’s media literacy and critical thinking skills. And yes, you guessed right, we have once again utterly failed that challenge. Edited audio clips were fed to huge social media personalities by Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman (he testified to this) about 2 years ago and so the modern day witch hunt took its course cumulating in the monetized misogyny we saw at the height of the trial: People were able to pay for their hateful comments to be at the top of the YouTube livestream during the trial, countless disgusting video edits and even TikTok challenges were created mocking Amber’s testimony and recounts of abuse – all under the (false) pretense that she is a liar.
Taking all the actual evidence into account, it is clear that Amber Heard was the victim in a relationship where the much older Depp increasingly lost control of his alcohol and drug addiction and with that, the violence increased, while Heard stayed in the relationship because she loved him and hoped he would get better – as many victims do. Eventually she talked and fought back and gave ground for those manipulated audio clips to make their rounds and make the world believe she lied – even though a UK judge already ruled that she didn’t and found that Depp was guilty on multiple counts of abuse towards Heard including sexual abuse. Johnny even lost the appeal in the UK.
But unlike the judge in the UK, the jury in the US did not even have half the evidence to look at because Depp’s team managed to suppress key evidence on technicalities like hearsay such as the text messages of Depp’s personal assistant Stephen Deuters where he apologized to Amber in Johnny’s name for kicking her and their couple’s therapist Amy Banks confirming the abuse.
But even if she lied, the lines that are being crossed to ridicule an issue as serious and sensitive as abuse are indicative of where our society is standing. #MeToo began 5 years ago and everything that has been achieved has collapsed. A case that is nearly the same as the ones that went public during the #MeToo movement, and no one believes what the woman is saying. Not believing women is a well-practiced thing in our society, but the case of Depp vs Heard has shown this on a big stage yet again.
Instead of starting to believe women, this case showed the following:
If you dare fight back against your abuser, society calls it “mutual abuse“ or worse, you’re the abuser!
If you speak up against your abuser, they will hit you with a defamation trial!
If you seek justice in the courts, you will have to recount your worst trauma and have every word you say be put under the utmost scrutiny like you’re the criminal!
If you leave him, he will use all the power he has to humiliate and haunt you!
No matter what you do, you cannot escape – not unless you die.
The perfect victim is a dead victim, Rose McGowan once strikingly said after speaking out against Harvey Weinstein and the abuse she suffered at his hands.
This is why for women, peace is no option.
It simply is not an option for women in a society that thrives off of women’s oppression. This case certainly is no isolated incident. We currently witness a pushback on women’s rights and a massive reactionary shift in our society overall on a global scale. This trial and the criminalization of abortion in the United States are just a few of the most publicized examples of all branches of government as well as our society – in form of social media, various spectrums of press and more – working together hand in hand as part of the superstructure to uphold, facilitate and promote patriarchal power structures suppressing women’s dignity and freedom. In a capitalist society that is based on patriarchal oppression our only solution can be to fight this system.
When the choice you are presented with is between a life fighting for dignity and freedom and a life without dignity and freedom, then it quickly becomes clear that women need to fight – for peace is no option.