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Amber Heard’s Case Is Actually A Perfect Example Of How Patriarchy Works

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amber heard

It’s near impossible these days to escape the coverage of the defamation suit filed by Johnny Depp against Amber Heard.

Ever since it started three weeks ago, it’s been all over the news and social media platforms.

And naturally, everyone seems to have an opinion about it.

Many people are calling Amber Heard a narcissistic sociopath with anger control issues. A gold-digging c*** A vindictive b****. Some still believe Johnny Depp is a wife-beater, and Amber Heard is the true victim in this situation.

Some are on neither side of the fence.

But what I find the most baffling about this affair is how quickly it became a ‘gotcha’ moment against women who talk about domestic violence and abuse. And against feminism, in general.

Is it really, though?

RELATED: The Assassination Of Amber Heard

Because if there’s one thing this whole situation is actually a perfect example of, it’s how the patriarchy — the social system feminism is fighting to dismantle — works.

And how insidious its ways can be.

We believed Amber just like we believed all the other women

When Amber Heard came forward with allegations of verbal and physical abuse against Johnny Depp in 2016, right after filing for divorce, most of us believed her.

Just like we believed all the other women who told their stories in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Although Johnny Depp denied all accusations against him, the couple settled their divorce quickly after that. They even released a joint statement in which they claimed that ‘our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love.’

And that would’ve been the last time we’ve heard about their ‘volatile’ love story if it weren’t for Heard’s op-ed on sexual violence published in The Washington Post in 2018.

No, it didn’t mention Johnny Depp.

Still, it’s clear that’s whom the piece was mostly about.

This is why it became the basis of the $50m defamation lawsuit happening right now.

But this isn’t exactly their first rodeo.

In 2020, Depp already went to trial against The Sun for the headline they wrote about him, which included the word ‘wife-beater.’ Both he and Heard testified. They both presented evidence. And then Depp lost and was denied the permission to appeal.

However, what’s becoming more evident now is that some of Amber Heard’s accusations might be exaggerated or false. And it could even be the case, as Johnny Depp has maintained, that he also suffered abuse at the hand of his ex-wife.

Could it be that the pair abused each other?

Possibly.

From what I’ve seen so far now, and during the trial in London in 2020, they both exhibit evidence of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse of the other. And yes, women can be manipulative, aggressive, and abusive, too. Just like men.

But did we ever claim anything to the contrary?

RELATED: Amber Heard Accused Of Leaving ‘Fake Bruise Kit’ In Photos Of Johnny Depp Passed Out

‘Abuse has no gender’ — true, but more often than not, it does.

As the bitter legal battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard continues, the hashtag #AbuseHasNoGender has gone viral on social media. And it sparked a discussion on the domestic abuse of men.

Although it shouldn’t be news to anyone that men can be on the receiving end of abuse, too, it’s indeed a topic rarely discussed in general. And one of the reasons why is because men are reluctant to discuss it in the first place. Or they take longer to talk about it — Johnny Depp has only started to mention that he’s been subjected to it now.

Recent studies actually show that half of the male victims fail to tell anyone they are victims of domestic abuse. And they are also two and a half times less likely to tell anyone than female victims.

But why is that?

Well, we still live in a patriarchal society that upholds the rape culture myth that men can’t be abused or raped and women can’t be perpetrators.

Because it’s men who are physically stronger. Because it’s men who are more aggressive. Because ‘real men’ can’t be raped. Because ‘real men’ don’t whine about their feelings anyway, and if they do, they shouldn’t be surprised if they get bullied and ridiculed.

But men aren’t inherently violent, abusive, and emotionless animals, and women aren’t inherently victims.

However, while all of this is great to talk about, what does bother me about this #AbuseHasNoGender debate is that some people are now insinuating that women abuse men at the same rates as men abuse women. Or even higher ones.

Statistically, I’m afraid that’s bullsh**.

Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t simultaneously recognize the need for better resources for male abuse victims. And that women are — on average — at a higher risk of being murdered, raped, or abused at the hands of their male intimate partners.

One thing doesn’t exclude the other.

And let’s not forget that just as many men are afraid to come forward with allegations of abuse out of fear of not being believed — thanks to the patriarchal myths we’re spoonfed practically since birth — so are women. But for different reasons than men.

RELATED: Lawyer Camille Vasquez Responds To Rumors That She’s Dating Johnny Depp As Fan Theories Circulate

Meanwhile, men who routinely abuse women are turned into memes

Not surprisingly, many people also suggest that if the roles were reversed, and Amber Heard were a man, she’d already be locked up in prison.

Would she, really?

A couple of weeks ago, I actually wrote a piece about how men, particularly those who enjoy positions of power and privilege, rarely suffer the consequences of their misconduct against women. They’re almost always instantly defended.

And it’s often victims who get the short end of the stick while their perpetrators can just go on with their lives. Even when they’re found guilty. Like Louis C.K. Donald Trump. Roman Polanski. Woody Allen. Prince Andrew. And so on.

So, no — if the roles were reversed, I highly doubt that Amber Heard would already be prosecuted. If anything, if the actress were a man, she wouldn’t be as slandered all over the internet as she is right now.

Because while the people who probably never bothered about domestic abuse victims beforehand are already calling her every name in the book, they don’t keep the same energy for men who were repeatedly found guilty for their abusive behavior against women.

The most recent example of that is Ezra Miller, an American actor best known for his role in the movie ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin.’

He has just been arrested — for the second time in two weeks — for throwing a chair at a woman. And he also has quite a history of assaulting and stalking them.

And what does he get for that from the internet mob?

Well, he becomes a meme.

No, I’m not kidding. Although I wish I were.

However, this shouldn’t exactly be surprising to anyone.

Because culturally, violence against women is seen almost as part of the lifestyle of rich and famous men in Hollywood. Along with the drugs and wild parties, of course. It’s normal. And practically glorified.

But when a single famous woman abuses a man, even allegedly, it’s an entirely different story.

RELATED: 5 Unusual 'Rules' Amber Heard Reportedly Made Johnny Depp Follow

And it has far more damaging consequences on women as a whole than the actions of many violent men on the rest of the male population.

I will continue to believe women — and you should, too

It seems like it only takes one woman who could be lying about or exaggerating the abuse she suffered to call the entire feminist movement full of sh**. To claim that all women who come forward with domestic and sexual abuse allegations against men are liars and gold diggers.

Yet no amount of men who are abusers, rapists, and pedophiles is apparently enough to justify calling all men a potential threat.

Right.

This is a prime example of how patriarchy works and how insidious are the ways in which it has been built into our societal structures.

On the one hand, it implies that men are the ‘aggressive’ and ‘violent’ gender. But on the other, it protects them from the consequences of their actions and either shift the blame on their uncontrollable ‘male nature’ or the victims themselves while simultaneously doing the opposite when it comes to female perpetrators.

Patriarchy is essentially when men who do the same things as Amber Heard allegedly did and worse are turned into funny memes instead of being portrayed as the ultimate c***.

So, no — this case isn’t a ‘gotcha’ moment. It shouldn’t be used to invalidate or silence female survivors of domestic or sexual abuse. Or feminists who talk about how prevalent male violence against women still is.

And it shouldn’t be the reason why we have to stop believing women.

Because believing women who allege violence is not about condemning an accused man.

It’s primarily about countering the widely expressed assumption that women who make allegations are lying, exaggerating or deserving of the ill-treatment they have received. Because they were asking for it. Because they want revenge. Because they are just being hysterical.

And yes, false allegations do exist. But they are incredibly uncommon.

Let’s not forget about that.

I bet that from now on, every time a woman tries to hold her abuser accountable, there will be someone saying, ‘but look what Amber Heard did.’

But no amount of whataboutism erases the reality we, women, are still experiencing almost every day.

And it shouldn’t stop us from talking about it either.

I know it certainly won’t stop me.

Katie Jgln is a writer and activist currently based in London, UK. Her work covers women’s rights issues, pop culture, and news. You can find her on various social media platforms here.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.