Debate over feminism and violence in the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard case

As if it were a Hollywood film, the marriage, separation and subsequent complaints between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard had fights, drama, lawsuits and different assumptions about the guilty and the innocent . It’s a business that started in 2016 and still today, five years later, fills the pages and headlines and is trending on the networks.

Between complaints of domestic violence on both sides and several lawsuits for millions of dollars, the ex-partner has been on trial for two weeks, which, in court, seeks to resolve what happened between the two.

The most striking thing is that it has sparked a debate that does not stop, but sometimes fades: the one that says that men are also victims and that women can be aggressors. Sin intendar tomar partido y recordando que ni la justice ni las pruebas han decidido quién es el inocente, si es que lo hay, y sin pretender decir que Heard abusó domésticamente de Depp o poner en juicio su denuncia, sí se trata de una discusión que it’s worth it.

All over the world, women and men are victims of different types of abuse and violence, sexual, domestic, psychological or economic, among others. In Colombia alone, according to last year’s figures from Legal Medicine, between January and August, 13,283 people were victims of sexual violence, including 11,523 women and 1,760 men. The numbers are clear: there is systematic violence against women, mostly perpetrated by men, but men can still be affected. Talking about it is important.

What do we know about the case

The ex-companion met in 2009 in the recordings of the film The rum journal, but it wasn’t until 2015 that they got married. The relationship lasted 23 months, and in 2016 she filed for divorce with a restraining order saying he abused her.

Without proving anything, they reach an agreement in 2017 after she was awarded $7 million, but in 2018 she wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post talking about victims and daring to speak out. She was even an ambassador for the feminist movement against gender violence MeToo. In 2019, Depp reported Heard for defamation and claimed she was the attacker and he was abused.

A lawsuit began two weeks ago in which Depp sued Heard for $50 million over the allegedly defamatory article and she countersued for $100 million. It will be at least six weeks, and so far the only one to make statements about the two has been Depp. Heard is expected to speak in the coming days and introduce his witnesses.

In the networks there are theories and followers who support the two artists, but what caught the attention and triggered all the alarms was a recording in which we hear Amber Heard telling Johnny that nobody was going to believe him, because he was a man. . “Tell the world that you, Johnny Depp, a man, are a victim of domestic violence and you will see how many people believe you and take your side.”

At trial, Johnny answered his lawyer’s question that yes, he is a victim of domestic violence. Additionally, they showed audios in which he attempted suicide by telling his then-wife, “You took everything from me. You want my blood, take it,” while holding a knife. Yet there is also evidence that Depp emotionally and verbally abused the Acuamán actress. The only clear thing is that their relationship was toxic.


Regarding domestic violence, women continue to be the most affected, with 24,492 cases, while men had 7,047. For political scientist and Master in Political Communication, Angélica Beltrán Pineda, this case, like many other emblematic and famous, must be analyzed with a structural reading.

“We must understand that we live in an economic, political and cultural system in which men are the dominant gender and seek to position themselves through different mechanisms, including violence, to maintain this control.”

For this reason, says the expert, there is systematic violence, especially against women, such as femicides, sexual violence, street harassment, psychological violence, among others. That doesn’t mean men don’t experience it, but it happens more in women.

Moreover, there is under-reporting in both cases and many men prefer not to file a complaint because, especially in the Colombian context, this same patriarchal system has created a gender stereotype in which they should be the dominant ones ” , and in the event that they are victims, their masculinity is supposedly threatened and that is why they do not agree to publicly reflect their vulnerability”.

It is clear, according to the expert, that the patriarchal system affects both sides but in different ways: women, because of the disadvantage compared to the privileged position of men and their violence, and men, because they are afraid to denounce and less support.

The damage of MeToo

Another letter that was put on the table regarding Amber Heard was the veracity of her testimony which, if false, would affect an entire movement. Heard was celebrated at the time for daring to report her abuser, an action that many women fear and dare not, and for protecting their abusers.

If this is not true, the risk is that other abused women who dare to speak out will not be believed, claiming that they are taking advantage of their condition to damage their reputation, or that many others will decide better to keep quiet. .

This, explains Beltrán, is dangerous and should not happen, because “from this structural reading, there is a tendency to violence and, moreover, to disbelieve the victims, especially women”. On the contrary, if it is already difficult, it could be more so.

What should remain of the debate, whoever the culprits are, is that it is clear that women are the most affected, but that there are also men who are victims, and that the best option should be to press charges because the victims are believed.

Always believe the victim?

This Depp and Heard affair showed that it is difficult to take a position and that without evidence it is more difficult to know who is the culprit and who is the victim. However, the expert recalls that it is always necessary to lodge a complaint and that, ideally, two elements are taken into account: the principle of good faith and the presumption of innocence.

The principle of good faith indicates that anyone who lodges a complaint, regardless of gender, “conforms to the facts, goes to the truth until proven otherwise”.

The presumption of innocence states that “the person who is accused shall not be tried socially, formally and criminally until an investigation has been conducted which determines that this has been so”.

In real life, however, this does not happen because since the complaint is canceled or ends socially those reported or, on the other hand, complainants are not believed. However, “yes, the victims must always be believed, not to rush the alleged aggressor to justice, but so that the processes of investigation, support and reparation of the surviving victim are carried out in the appropriate and as nimble as possible.


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