Johnny Depp and the dangers of ‘believe women’

New evidence suggests that Amber Heard was not the innocent victim she claimed to be.

Ella Whelan

Ella Whelan
Columnist

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It’s typical for celebrity marriages to be short-lived and mired in scandal. But the 15-month union between Hollywood stars Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has caused more of a stir than usual because of accusations of domestic violence and abuse.

After filing for divorce in May 2016, Heard was granted a restraining order against Depp. Leaked photos from court documents emerged that seemed to show Heard with a bruised face. A video was also leaked of Depp apparently throwing wine bottles and glasses around a room. More leaked documents revealed that Heard claimed to have been physically and emotionally abused by Depp throughout their relationship. Depp’s lawyers claimed this was merely an attempt to gain an early financial settlement. Eventually, the pair settled out of court, signing non-disclosure agreements to prevent them from discussing the relationship publicly. Heard dropped her restraining order and that seemed to be that.

But that wasn’t the end of it, of course. Two years later, Heard wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post. She talked about how she had ‘felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out’. While careful not to name Depp directly, she claimed she ‘had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse’. She argued that her own experience had shown her how important it is to fight for legal change, including the extension of Title IX regulations in universities and the strengthening of domestic-violence laws.

In response to the Post piece, Depp filed a defamation claim against Heard for $50million. He claims that the piece presupposes that he is a domestic abuser and she is a victim. And last week, the Daily Mail published a recording of a conversation between the couple in 2015 that complicates matters further. In it, Heard admits that she was herself violent and abusive towards Depp during their short-lived marriage.

What Heard and Depp did or didn’t do is a matter for them and their lawyers. But the commentary around this case has been extraordinary, and the latest revelations show the dangers of ‘believing the victim’, as we are so often exhorted to do in situations like this. Indeed when Heard filed for divorce in 2016, the media world, which was about to be swallowed by the onset of the #MeToo movement, used this celebrity case to try to teach the rest of us a lesson.

A long Vox column chastised the public for not ‘believing’ Heard, citing a string of unpleasant comments, posted under a gossip column, claiming that Heard was blackmailing Depp. ‘That’s what usually happens when a woman accuses a powerful and beloved man of hurting her’, the column read. Grazia even criticised Depp’s daughter for defending him, insisting that Heard’s ‘voice counts and our insidious, doubting voices do not’.

Meanwhile, the Guardian invoked Charlotte Bronte in an article celebrating Heard’s newfound freedom from her alleged abuser: ‘Reader, she left him.’

But what the Depp-v-Heard case has revealed is not our deep-seated hatred for women who speak out about domestic abuse, but the corrosive effect of contemporary feminism on justice. For feminist campaigners, justice should be for one side only – the accuser. When campaigns like #IBelieveHer and #MeToo insist we automatically believe accusations of sexual abuse or harassment, the principle of innocent until proven guilty is thrown out of the window.

Depp alleges that Heard faked the assault against her. Whether or not that is true, or if the two were in fact attacking one another, this case should give some #MeToo types pause for thought. Relationships are rarely black and white, especially when they break down. What’s more, the push to believe all women creates an unrealistic picture of women as fragile, angelic and incapable of being wrong. This denies an important truth – that we women can be just as rough, tough and ugly as men.

If we want better justice for women and men, we should not jump to conclusions before all the facts are available.

Ella Whelan is a spiked columnist and the author of What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Comments

American Reader

19th February 2020 at 7:57 pm

Amber Heard sucked the life out of Johnny Depp! Look at him before her, and after. And look at her before him, and after! How can people not see the visual difference? Are they blind?

Lauder Eric

17th February 2020 at 1:19 am

Looks like Ella is in damage control mode.

I’m not convinced: Amber Heard is a liar and should be jailed, the situation is absoutely black and white.

martin dufresne

8th February 2020 at 6:09 am

“…Depp alleges that Heard faked the assault against her. Whether or not that is true, or if the two were in fact attacking one another, this case should give some #MeToo types pause for thought…”

Logics doesn’t seem to be the author’s forte. “#MeToo types” have a much more sophisticated analysis than what she credits them with and their focus is on slap-dash attempts to discredit women… such as hers.

steve moxon

8th February 2020 at 5:47 pm

Guffaw!

Claire D

9th February 2020 at 8:27 am

#MeToo was a moral panic in response to the TV serialisation of The Handmaid’s Tale. Hysteria swept across the US and the UK, it even reached the House of Commons (The President’s Club scandal and Jess Philip’s performance in particular).
So the idea that “#MeToo types” are capable of rational thought is highly unlikely.

Cedar Grove

7th February 2020 at 10:45 pm

It’s irrational and unfair to “believe” one party to a dispute before an alleged offence has been investigated.

But I think this policy was intended to counterbalance the recorded bias in believing men and thus dismissing women without a hearing.

What we should do is investigate as if each of the two people involved were accepted as truthful: with effort, we can usually conclude with accuracy whether either or both are lying.

steve moxon

8th February 2020 at 5:50 pm

What?! The default, which is deep in all of us, is to believe the woman and regard the man as a scumbag. And this hopelessly biases any examination of a “one person’s word against another’s” scenario, which usually is absent clear evidence.

Michael Lynch

7th February 2020 at 11:02 am

This is merely a story about another gold digger who has used every trick in the book to get her way including modern feminist values. I’m sick to the back teeth of hearing these rich Hollywood types bleat on about victimhood.

Matt Ryan

7th February 2020 at 9:10 am

See also the feminazi’s attempts to have every man accused of rape be convicted without due process. If she said she was raped, it must be true (as men are liars).

Soweto MGTOW

6th February 2020 at 5:14 pm

Johnny should have gone MGTOW. Marriage and co-habitation in the 21st century are a deadly trap for men.

steve moxon

5th February 2020 at 2:59 pm

Domestic violence is heavily predominantly if not overwhelmingly FEmale-perpetrated. [I’m the author of three peer-reviewed science review papers on the topic.] Men hugely under-report being victims: even the ONS concedes that the sex differential in this is threefold — by some estimates it’s tenfold or more — yet never so much as mention the need to adjust the raw data.
Male-specific self-inhibition of violence towards women, corresponding to an evolutionarily highly-conserved male-specific dedicated neural pathway, and a female-specific actual preference in a couple context for physically violent expression of aggression, prompted by oxytocin (the very hormone underpinning pair-bonding): these findings together indicate that a new theory of partner violence [PV] is required, with a female-specific aetiology. This anyway is apparent from the great disparity between the actual and predicted sex-differential in PV injury rates; the only plausible inference from which is overwhelming female compared to male perpetration. It is conceivable that what male-perpetrated PV there may be is by aberrant (psycho-pathological) individuals, with the remainder of male-on-female violence rather than being PV per se – directed as such, with intent to cause harm – is better understood as by displacement from male intra-sexual aggression.
The basis of a female-specific PV aetiology is that pair-bonding is now known to have evolved in the female interest to maximise female fertility, and therefore at root women have a stronger interest in preventing partner defection – manifesting in ‘controlling’ behaviour which may become violent — whereas at root men would have little to lose if not something to gain.
Reviews and studies for decades have shown that PV is perpetrated at least as much by women; but now evident in data is that this is predominantly so – in many and the most important respects by multiples. This new understanding of PV is a reversion to what in former times would have been the intuitive, popular view of the phenomenon, before the imposition of an extreme ideological conception of a supposed ‘patriarchal’ [sic] ‘terrorism’ [sic] of exclusively or predominantly male perpetration.
Though now comprehensively discredited, this persists, as it was created, through a need within the political-Left mindset to salve cognitive-dissonance regarding the failure of Marxist theory. In blaming ‘the workers’, envisaged as being all-male; they were replaced, as the supposed new ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘oppressed’ in need of ‘liberation’, by the generic category of all women. Consequently, it became imperative both to deny the extent and even the existence of PV that is female-on-male, whilst inflating levels of male-on-female PV and falsely ascribing to it a special perniciousness. Being in line with deep-seated pro-female and anti-male prejudice rooted in the biological imperative to control male access to sex, what would otherwise be seen as arcane political posturing, instead has appeared plausible.Male-specific self-inhibition of violence towards women, corresponding to an evolutionarily highly-conserved male-specific dedicated neural pathway, and a female-specific actual preference in a couple context for physically violent expression of aggression, prompted by oxytocin (the very hormone underpinning pair-bonding): these findings together indicate that a new theory of partner violence [PV] is required, with a female-specific aetiology. This anyway is apparent from the great disparity between the actual and predicted sex-differential in PV injury rates; the only plausible inference from which is overwhelming female compared to male perpetration. It is conceivable that what male-perpetrated PV there may be is by aberrant (psycho-pathological) individuals, with the remainder of male-on-female violence rather than being PV per se – directed as such, with intent to cause harm – is better understood as by displacement from male intra-sexual aggression.

The basis of a female-specific PV aetiology is that pair-bonding is now known to have evolved in the female interest to maximise female fertility, and therefore at root women have a stronger interest in preventing partner defection – manifesting in ‘controlling’ behaviour which may become violent — whereas at root men would have little to lose if not something to gain.

Reviews and studies for decades have shown that PV is perpetrated at least as much by women; but now evident in data is that this is predominantly so – in many and the most important respects by multiples. This new understanding of PV is a reversion to what in former times would have been the intuitive, popular view of the phenomenon, before the imposition of an extreme ideological conception of a supposed ‘patriarchal’ [sic] ‘terrorism’ [sic] of exclusively or predominantly male perpetration.

Though now comprehensively discredited, this persists, as it was created, through a need within the political-Left mindset to salve cognitive-dissonance regarding the failure of Marxist theory. In blaming ‘the workers’, envisaged as being all-male; they were replaced, as the supposed new ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘oppressed’ in need of ‘liberation’, by the generic category of all women. Consequently, it became imperative both to deny the extent and even the existence of PV that is female-on-male, whilst inflating levels of male-on-female PV and falsely ascribing to it a special perniciousness. Being in line with deep-seated pro-female and anti-male prejudice rooted in the biological imperative to control male access to sex, what would otherwise be seen as arcane political posturing, instead has appeared plausible.

steve moxon

5th February 2020 at 3:02 pm

Sorry for extra text: something went awry with cut & paste: again, what silliness that there is no edit facility on this site!

Jerry Owen

5th February 2020 at 3:52 pm

Steve Moxon
Interesting read and I have to say that it speaks much sense.

steve moxon

5th February 2020 at 7:25 pm

If you care to check out my papers, do get back with any points / criticisms / questions.
I’ll be putting out another, hopefully this year, with further, major lines of evidence.

Brandy Cluster

5th February 2020 at 8:45 pm

I am desperate to read this kind of stuff as I’ve had 2 sons dragged through the divorce court (under legislation laughingly called ‘no fault divorce”) having been accused of violence without a scintilla of evidence. The second son is still going through this and is being ‘rationed’ access to his two boys 10 and 7 after 18 months. So far Aus$60,000 in legals and she is withdrawing his access further. Her sister did the same to 2 men and is onto a third!! My grandsons are missing their father and the youngest says, “don’t make me go home to mum; I cannot tell grandma and grandpa because I’ll get into trouble” (that is, her parents). By signing a form on the bottom at a police station this woman was able to claim DV (they were married 13.5 years) and have those boys instantly taken away from my son. No evidence required. Police turning up at his place of work (where he’s a manager) and at the school when my son turned up to see them at first day back in 2019 – and interviewed the other parents!! This is the most atrocious breach of civil liberty and justice under the law that it is hardly possible it is going on. And, yet, here we are in the 21st century where men have zero right but HAVE TO STUMP UP ALL THE CASH. An inquiry was launched by our PM into our Family Court and the Left female cohort screamed loudly. Why would this be, do you think? And a men’s rights campaigner was awarded an Honour in the recent Australia Day Honours List. Again, the feminist screamed and demanded it was taken back – this was lead by the female Attorney General of the state of Victoria.

We are living in a violence, repressive matriarchy and neither of my sons will ever have a bar of a committed relationship and neither will their friends and, hopefully, neither will their children.

What kind of society thinks any of that is acceptable?

steve moxon

5th February 2020 at 8:54 pm

Brandy, I’m very sad to hear that, though not in the least surprised. It’s pretty well standard.
There should be far stronger and determined challenge to any claims by women of domestic violence, and in any context, but especially in that of separation / child custody, as it is very well known that women weaponise the traditional stance of family law to gain even further advantage. It’s also known that women misrepresent their domestic violence perpetration as that of their partners, and police readily believe them.
Luckily, you in on Australia which is a place where all of this feminist male-hating malicious nonsense is being seen through.

Cedar Grove

7th February 2020 at 10:40 pm

The murder rates, which are accurately documented, don’t bear out your contention. Many more women are killed by men than the other way round.

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/homicideinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2018

What may be true is that perhaps a woman initiates aggressive contact by shouting, or slapping a man: he retaliates with a punch or a weapon, so the response is disproportionate and more physically damaging.

steve moxon

8th February 2020 at 11:01 am

Not so. The calculated predicted sex-differential is (as for injury) roughly 20:1 [Dixon 2012], and not only is there similarly almost no sex-differential in the recorded data – almost half of police-recorded spousal murder victims are men [Ferguson 2003] – but many or more likely most male victims are missing from the data, because of a combination of the hard-to-detect modes employed by wives and police recording conventions. Whereas husbands who murder their wives often do so without attempting to conceal the crime – not least in a fit of rage and/or in conjunction with suicide — this is much less the case for wives who murder their husbands, given female indirect aggression styles serving female goals to maintain the remainder of the family otherwise intact, posthumously funded by the husband’s assets. As is well-known, wives tend to murder either by proxy – a lover, male friend, male relative or hired ‘hit-man’ — or by subterfuge (classically by disguised poisoning or contrived accident); in both cases in effect assisted by pro-female / anti-male prejudice allaying suspicion. The subterfuge often will be successful, but even when detected, the third-party cases are recorded either as being both perpetrated and instigated by the third-party male, or – and even if the wife is found to be implicated – as a ‘multiple-offender’ killing without reference to a wife (this in the USA) [Farrell 1999]. Thus is mariticide under-counted to the likely extent of a small fraction of what would be the actual total. The disjuncture between data and prediction in respect of partner-murder may be considered further widened by including PV-related suicide, at least some of which can be attributable to female partner’s violence/ abuse. Taking all PV-related deaths together, then even on the wholly inadequate official data, the total number of male deaths well exceeds that for females [Davis 2010].
Davis RL (2010) Domestic violence-related deaths. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research 2(2) 44-52
Dixon L (2012) Quote (personal email communication) re a paper then in press: “What is remarkable is the high proportion of men injured by their partners: the figures are 38% from a meta-analysis of 20 studies (Archer, 2000) and 35% from a more recent analysis of 14 studies (Straus, 2011). From the same perspective it is also remarkable that such a high percentage of men are killed by their partners (23% according to the Home Office figures cited by the Respect authors). Based on size and strength differences, a figure of around 95% would be expected in both cases.
Farrell W (1999) Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say. Penguin NY
Ferguson CT (2003) Domestic Homicide of Male Spouses by Females: A Review for Death Investigators. Forensic Nurse Magazine September/October 8-9 & 15-18

steve moxon

8th February 2020 at 11:07 am

Not so. The calculated predicted s-differential is (as for injury) roughly 20:1 [Dixon 2012], and not only is there similarly almost no s-differential in the recorded data – almost half of police-recorded spousal homicide victims are men [Ferguson 2003] – but many or more likely most male victims are missing from the data, because of a combination of the hard-to-detect modes employed by wives and police recording conventions. Whereas male partners often do so without attempting to conceal the crime – not least in a fit of rage and/or in conjunction with suicide — this is much less the case for female partners, given female indirect aggression styles serving female goals to maintain the remainder of the family otherwise intact, posthumously funded by the husband’s assets. As is well-known, wives’ modes are either by proxy – a lover, male friend, male relative or hired ‘hit-man’ — or by subterfuge (classically by disguised toxic substance or contrived accident); in both cases in effect assisted by pro-female / anti-male prejudice allaying suspicion. The subterfuge often will be successful, but even when detected, the third-party cases are recorded either as being both perpetrated and instigated by the third-party male, or – and even if the wife is found to be implicated – as a ‘multiple-offender’ mode without reference to a wife (this in the USA) [Farrell 1999]. Thus is mariticide under-counted to the likely extent of a small fraction of what would be the actual total. The disjuncture between data and prediction in respect of partner-homicide may be considered further widened by including PV-related suicide, at least some of which can be attributable to female partner’s violence/ abuse. Taking all PV-related deaths together, then even on the wholly inadequate official data, the total number of male deaths well exceeds that for females [Davis 2010].
[see my papers for the refs.
Some words and phrases (like s-differential) are there (changed) to get through ‘moderation’!]

steve moxon

8th February 2020 at 11:08 am

You’re wrong here (see my paper on this very question) but I’m still trying to get a full reply through the daft ‘moderation’ on here!

steve moxon

8th February 2020 at 11:16 am

As I explain — if a full reply ever gets through the ‘mod’ here — not only do the police-recorded rates actually not differ that much between male and female partners but most of that by female partners is either entirely missed (because of subterfuge) or not thus recorded (third parties). The modes are very different according to male or female. The typical male modes are blatant; the typical female modes anything but.

Gweedo LeStrange

5th February 2020 at 2:14 pm

This article is just feminist damage control from Ella Whelan. She conveniently forgets to mention that Amber Heard withdrew her domestic violence allegations and her restraining order application against Depp in 2016. In fact, there has been ample evidence before the latest Daily Mail article that Depp was being falsely accused. To add insult to injury, Whelan concludes the article with the mealy-mouthed phrase “relationships are rarely black and white”. If the Depp-Heard case proves anything, it is that the facts are black and white. So I suppose this is what happens in a society where men are not allowed to defend themselves – women have to do it for us, while still spinning the same feminist half-truths, and no calls for female accountability whatsoever.

steve moxon

5th February 2020 at 3:27 pm

Yes, the feminist anti-feminist hokey wokey jive is about as sustainable as the general feminist position of the sexes being absolutely the same AND irrevocably different!

Brandy Cluster

5th February 2020 at 8:48 pm

The fact that is person argued against an entirely reasonable position tells us all we need to know about the present feminist war against society and, in the end, ultimately themselves.

Brandy Cluster

5th February 2020 at 8:49 pm

Sorry, I was referring to Amber Heard. She’s now a powerful feminist, creating a false narrative ENTIRELY FOR CASH.

steve moxon

5th February 2020 at 9:06 pm

Well, ordinary people see right through it, as they see right through all of the manifestation of ‘identity politics’ / ‘PC’ malicious idiocy of the Left that the elite has swallowed whole. The elite is going to have to drop it, or they are going to have a gatherng revolt on their hands.

Jim Lawrie

5th February 2020 at 12:20 pm

Gold digger tries to mine a new seam – enraged when claim is made against her.

Her twoffer legal defence and evidence – “But I’m a woman.”

david rawson

5th February 2020 at 12:01 pm

I’d never heard of Heard until this story broke – sums it up really.
Like sexual abuse & grooming of kids, using celebrity to push an agenda is never good, and it leaves the real victims of abuse unsupported.

Look at all the time & resources spent on pursuing historical celebrity cases, while kids were being routinely abused in Rotherhm & Rochdale, under the Social Services & Police’s noses.

That’s the real scandal

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Brandy Cluster

5th February 2020 at 11:07 am

They’re both incredibly unattractive human beings. But I am deeply suspicious of women’s claims against men since I’ve had 2 sons destroyed by their wives with lies in the Family Court. It has been an unmitigated disaster. How I wish we had the resources of Johnny Depp to push back against these women and the alienation of my sons’ children through lies told about them. Bring back perjury to the Family Court.

Mrs Jones

5th February 2020 at 10:59 am

The behaviour of women who claim abuse, settle out of court and then decide to march for justice makes my blood boil. This makes a complete mockery of those who are seriously abused and need help – all those women and men who put up with abuse because they feel they have no where to go and aren’t financially independent. Those are the ones who have to suffer increasing levels of violence and hospitalisation before a charity steps in to help – but only once they have scored ‘enough’ on a scale of harm – not because they have claimed abuse and support through their media privilege.

The public ‘movements’ for Domestic Abuse ‘justice’ are harmful to all those victims who want to seek help but now probably feel like they would be less believed than they would have been before the fricking ‘woke’ movement.

Jesus – as if the lava that has replaced my menopausal blood wasn’t enough…..

Perverted Lesbian

5th February 2020 at 12:55 pm

Whilst I understand your initial point in principle, I can say from experience that it is not as easy as you would think to fight the person abusing you, to say the intrusion by officials is dehumanising and humiliating would be an understatement, of course, the facts need to be ascertained, but by the time you’ve reached the point where you can’t take anymore and leave the person you are mentally exhausted and emotionally pretty wrecked and reality is you just want closure as quickly and as painlessly as possible. You can make a moral judgement about that, and maybe you would act differently, but as with many things in life I myself try to adopt the mindset of ‘a mile in someone else’s shoes’. That said I am not in anyway a supporter of #believeWomen it is so obviously flawed, also #MeToo became farcical.

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Ven Oods

5th February 2020 at 9:07 am

Poor ol’ Amber. Like a lot of ‘actresses’, she’s very comely, but not very good at the actual job.
Still, if you need to be famous for something…

steven brook

5th February 2020 at 8:09 am

I once went on a training course delivered by social services. Those attending were from a variety of backgrounds. One of the slides said ” Children don’t lie” . A couple of us teachers had the temerity to question this orthodoxy. The trainers went on to qualify the statement “children don’t lie about important things”. Well, the audience was split down the middle those who’ve have had children, or met children or have any knowledge of young people and those who have withdrawn into an ideological bubble.

Paul Duffin

5th February 2020 at 9:39 am

If they didn’t lie then when asked they’d never deny that someone hurt them. Yet they do. All the time.

If they didn’t lie then embarrassment or fear would never stop them speaking out about abuse. Yet it does. All the time.

When they say “children don’t lie” and then caveat that with “…about important stuff” they’re just showing their ideological bias. What they mean is “we choose to believe children when they say what we want to hear but not when they say things we don’t want to hear”. In that regard they’re no better than those who refuse to accept that a child might have been abused.

Jerry Owen

5th February 2020 at 8:08 am

I’ve never heard of Heard but then I don’t follow celebs, this is probably the longest celeb article I have ever read.
I have heard of Depp though, he has been in one or two decent children’s films and his latest one is called Dior, which apparently is about cultural appropriation according to the Twitter warriors who are up in arms about it.
Heard like many other women married to famous men will take any opportunity to get themselves into the limelight using any means possible except earned merits.
It’s all rather unseemly and ugly.

Jerry Owen

5th February 2020 at 8:09 am

‘Dior’ … Spoiler alert it’s rather short.

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