Updated: Jun 7
Work commitments have made it difficult for me to blog lately. However, I must confess that despite my busyness I still managed to sneak in time to follow the recent Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard trial – a fascinating tale of the brokenness of the human condition, the horrors of toxic marriage, the illusions of fame and a sobering reminder that drug and alcohol dependency is really not great. While my workload remains heavy, things have momentarily settled down enough for me to add my bit to the conversation around Depp’s legal victory.
I remember when the 21 Jump Street TV series took off; it was April 1987. I was just starting high school at the time in the US where I grew up. The show had a bizarre premise of baby-faced cops tackling high school crime by pretending to be students. I have never watched a single episode of the show in my life, but I remember the frenzy Depp caused. He was all chiselled and brooding, pouting in every photo because his too-cool-for-school genetics made it physiologically impossible for him to smile. He was the breakout star of the show and ever since then he has remained a high-profile celebrity.
I am not what one would call a Johnny Depp fan. I don’t dislike him but if I saw him in the street, I wouldn’t take leave of my senses and abandon decorum as many have. If anything, Depp has nostalgic relevance for me as part of my teenage life in the States. The TV show was a big deal and a significant part of popular culture back then. And aside from that, I suppose I will always think of him fondly as inspiration for my then friend Jeremy who dressed up very convincingly as Edward Scissorhands one year for a school competition.
I knew nothing at all of Amber Heard until she married Depp. I didn’t even realise how much acting she had done until I watched the trial. That could be because of my lack of real-time engagement with the world of showbiz (I’m at that age, lol) or it could be because Heard just isn’t that big a star in her own right. Either way, I never thought of her as much more than Depp’s once wife. Of course, Heard is now known worldwide for her acting – in court rather than on screen.
In case you’ve been living under a rock (for which I wouldn’t blame you given the madness of the world), I’ll quickly bring you up to speed. After around 5 years of dating, Depp and Heard married in 2015 only to head to Splitsville two years later. Heard alleged that Depp was domestically abusive in all ways imaginable, and she somehow – whether by self-appointment or the powers that be – became a spokesperson for domestic violence (DV). Heard decided to publish an op-ed in the Washington Post in which she spoke in detail of an abuser without explicitly naming Depp. Depp claimed he never abused her, that her publication was about him, and that it ruined his career and reputation. The recent six-week trial was Depp bringing a defamation claim for $50 million against Heard for false allegations of abuse. Heard countersued for $100 million claiming that his denials of abuse ruined her reputation. On 01 June 2022, Depp won on all counts of his claim and was awarded $15 million, capped at $10.35 million due to local state laws. Heard won on one defamation claim made by Depp’s lawyer and was awarded $2 million.
Before proceeding any further, I will admit right now that I am not approaching this blog article from the perspective of a legal representative. I am writing this as a woman who has lived and, if I do say so myself, has a bit of common sense. I watched the hearing for the same reason that most others did – it was riveting. The salaciousness of the allegations and evidence was addictive. There were numerous images of Depp slumped over unconscious in various positions due to mild-altering substances, audacious audio recordings that made your mouth drop open, texts which were poetic and vile in equal measure, and a circus-like parade of witnesses that at times resulted in a legal freak show. The material for memes was endless. I admit, with a mix of shame and defiance, that I enthusiastically engaged in the use of turd hashtags (based, of course, on Depp’s claims that Heard did a poo on his side of the bed. I know, right? Surreal).
Amidst the insanity, I paid close attention to the evidence with the aim of determining who was telling the truth. I’m not going to list all the most damning evidence against Heard here; it can be easily found on the internet. But in the end, any reasonable person could see that 1) Heard was caught in several mistruths; 2) Heard was unable to support her claims with evidence, and; 3) the audio and video evidence, which showed that both Depp and Heard are very troubled individuals, revealed Heard in particular to be a spiteful, scheming, and psychotic character who was the perpetrator of abuse – not a victim. Heard could not even conceal her hostility and aggression under cross-examination. Contrary to the usual vulnerable aspect of a DV victim, Heard’s rage ejected intermittently from her like shooting lava amidst a frenetic display of tearless crying, snarls, grimaces, and maniacal rocking back and forth while relaying abuse stories which no evidence corroborated. Despite being a woman, I could not empathise with Heard. I sighed with deep relief when the jury’s findings confirmed the obvious truth – Heard’s abuse claims were false, and she lied to destroy Depp.
In the face of glaring truth there will always be deranged individuals whose virtue signalling activism gets in the way of the facts. Enter The Guardian, which published an opinion piece on the Depp v Heard trial stating that the ruling against Heard was an ‘orgy of misogyny’ that will prevent DV victims from speaking out. You know what I say to that? I say this article deserves a turd hashtag. Are you kidding? Did the author of this article watch the same trial everyone else did? And if so, are they really so insecure about their beliefs that they blindly disregard the facts that counteract them? Well, apparently so. Heard obviously and repeatedly chose to lie in a court of law before the judge, a jury of her peers and the watching world. But according to The Guardian, she gets a pass because she’s a woman alleging that she’s been abused. Is The Guardian suggesting that women should be treated equally except when it comes to the strength of their evidence? And does The Guardian recognise how sinister it is to blame the jury (who ruled based on the facts) for wrecking the #metoo movement rather than blaming Heard, who single-handedly dismantled the cause by feigning victimhood? This is the type of double-standard that pours gasoline on the manosphere flame. It seems women want respect from men by championing the right to destroy men. Yeah. That’s working out really well for society, isn’t it?
Look, I’m not stupid. As I say, I’ve lived. There are some evil, sadistic men out there, some of whom I’ve interacted with myself. They use their physical strength, societal advantage and/or any other tool at their disposal to prey on vulnerable women and exploit them. I get it. It’s awful. It’s wrong. But it doesn’t change the fact that there are also women who manipulate, scheme, and destroy men. Ever heard of the TV show Snapped: Women Who Kill? It has been on the air since 2004. Yep. That’s 18 years of chicks who kill dudes. So, can we please stop promoting women’s causes on the flawed basis that all women are innately more innocent than men? Because all women really are not.
Need more proof? Ok. Let’s start here in the UK. The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service has an entire legal guidance section on its website dedicated to false allegations of rape and/or DV. Why? Because false allegations are an actual thing. It happens so much that an official protocol to deal with it was necessary. Here’s some examples why.
Gemma Gregory of Plymouth made eight – count them, eight – rape claims because, by her own admission, she wanted attention. Nicola Osborne from Portsmouth admitted to making a false rape claim after she became worried that her husband would find out about her hot and heavy one-night stand. Kelly Harwood of Aberdeen got drunk and, wait for it, had sex with her friend’s son. After being hit with a conscience afterwards, she decided to claim that he sexually assaulted her. She confessed two days later. In Hounslow, Jemma Beale was found guilty (for perjury and perverting the course of justice) and jailed for making false sexual assault claims against 15 men in four separate encounters over a three-year period. She was quite a busy gal. Rebecca Palmer of Royal Wootton Bassett was jailed for alleging that a soldier raped her. Palmer and the soldier had consensual sex, but she became angry when he rejected her afterwards. You know what they say: ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,’ and all that. In Bristol, Rhiannon Brooker failed her law exams and then falsely accused her boyfriend of rape as an excuse. I’m pretty sure that her ensuing three-and-a-half-year jail sentence had more of a negative impact on her legal career than her failed exams did, but I digress. And finally, Linsey Attridge made rape claims, as you do of course, to win sympathy from her boyfriend who she feared was losing interest. These are just a sample of untrue reporting cases that hit the headlines. We can only imagine the number of cases that happen but do not reach the news.
With regards to the specific issue of DV, government statistics in 2021 show that while men do report being victimised, more women report being subjected to violence than men do. It safe to say that this has traditionally been the case. So, when DV divorce claims skyrocketed between 2012 – 2014, we can assume that most of these were made by women against men. However, the reason for this was not actual violence. It was due to government changes to legal aid in family courts which meant that only abuse cases would be funded. As such, women began making false claims to get legal aid. In 2018, the charity Families Need Fathers released a statement confirming that men continued to be disproportionately affected by false accusations in family court.
If we head over to Australia, we see the story of a man whose wife was captured on video punching herself in the face to create evidence for a false DV claim. She did this because she learned he was planning to divorce her. If we zip over to the United States from whence Heard hails, the false claims continue. Elizabeth Coast of Virginia served two months in jail after admitting to false sexual assault allegations against a neighbour, who was convicted and served four years. Coast made the allegation after being caught watching porn by her mother and stated that the reason for her porn predilection is because she had been molested by the neighbour when she was just a teenager. I mean, I get that it’s not easy to tell your mum that you just like porn. However, to go as far as crying rape, choosing a real-life perpetrator, and going through the process of prosecution is just psychopathic. In another instance, Biurny Peguero, after a night of drinking and wild abandon, claimed she was gang-raped by three men. One man was convicted and served five years before Peguero confessed that the whole story was a lie. A couple of other recent cases in America have been particularly insightful.
Writer Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones, shared the horrific details of a 1981 rape in her memoir Lucky, which became a bestseller. She told police months after the rape that a black man who she saw in the street, Anthony Broadwater, was the rapist. Interestingly, Sebold did not pick Broadwater out in a line-up but went on to identify him on the witness stand during trial. Broadwater was convicted and spent 16 years in prison until his exoneration in November 2021 due to flaws in the original police investigation and forensic evidence. Sebold took over a week to publicly apologise for falsely accusing Broadwater, and for reasons unclear she blamed the 'system' rather than take full responsibility for incorrectly identifying Broadwater. Sebold, whose book made vast amounts of money on the back of Broadwater's wrongful conviction, has said nothing at all in the way of compensation to Broadwater. It does not appear at this time that there are questions about whether the rape actually happened but perhaps questions should be asked. Since Broadwater was cleared, it is notable that there does not appear to be any mention of forensics implicating another assailant. Things that make you go, 'Hmmm.'
In another recent case, Sherri Papini was arrested in March 2022 following her 2016 allegation that she was kidnapped for three weeks after going jogging. Details of what happened during her alleged kidnapping were never disclosed to the public, although we do know that both male and female DNA was found on her after she returned. But in any case, it turns out that Papini, who was married with children, was not kidnapped at all and was in fact just hanging out with her ex-boyfriend. Dude. I'm sure there was an easier way for her to have sex with the ex.
My sole reason for outlining these cases is to indicate that there is nothing new about Heard’s behaviour. People should not be outraged at the suggestion that women lie about abuse because based on the above it is clear that women, in different parts of the world and for various reasons, fake abuse claims all the time. As a woman myself I’m not trying to trash women, but I am demonstrating that women are subject to the same moral depravity that men are. And it is these women who are responsible for undermining the course of justice for real victims. It is ridiculous for The Guardian and anyone else who thinks like them to ignore these realities and to blame anyone other than Heard for the outcome of the trial.
The Open University did an article asserting that incidents of untrue reporting in the UK were as low as 4%. I say that it’s virtually impossible to tabulate this statistic accurately and that the figure is probably much higher. How do you calculate the number of falsely accused men who have been wrongfully convicted but never proven innocent? There are also innumerable men who have suffered the consequences of false allegations even without being reported to or investigated by the police. There was no police record to support Heard’s allegations against Depp, but she still managed to ruin him until he was able to disprove her allegations through a defamation trial. There are many, many innocent men who won’t have that opportunity.
True victims must overcome myriad prejudices and humiliating processes to voice their allegations and to successfully prosecute their perpetrators. Just look at how Prince Andrew dragged Virginia Guiffre through the mud before settling with her to avoid a rape case. The agony of this reality cannot be underestimated and everything that can be done should be done to make this process easier for ALL genuine female victims of DV and/or sexual assault. But the mantra ‘Believe all women’ is not the answer. Should we really live in a world where every woman who makes an allegation is automatically believed? Do I want my husband and son to live in a world where this principle is accepted? Of course, I don’t. And if you're an honest woman reading this, you don't want this for your husband, sons, brothers, and other male loved ones either. Feminism has disturbingly progressed from equality for women to moral sanctity applied to all women without question. The only thing ‘Believe All Women’ has the potential to do is sabotage the fabric of society by automatically choosing all women over truth. It’s reprehensible that anyone could be so driven by social politics that they expect society to accept this mantra at the expense of justice and the falsely accused. It is the cult-like acceptance of this ideology that paved the way for Heard to capitalise on the #metoo movement in her attempts to destroy Depp.
From the reaction of many who decry the outcome of the Depp v Heard defamation case, it seems they wanted the truth to be sentenced and locked away so that the perverse principles of their activism would be free to prevail in our culture. It must be tough to swallow but these people need to accept that Heard has gone from being the poster child for victims in the #metoo movement to raising the profile of false accusers in her very own #mepoo movement (or #medoodoo, if you prefer). Anyone who continues to champion Heard after this defamation trial is an individual who despises truth, men and real victims.
I am so pleased that the jury was focused on truth and did not allow the case to be sabotaged by social politics. This case made it clear to the world that 1) men are victims of DV, too and that 2) some women make false allegations. So, if we’re going to campaign against DV, we have to first be willing to make a distinction between genuine and false accusers so that advocacy for true victims is not undermined. We must also be willing to hold false accusers to account for their destructive behaviour. And if we’re going to support real victims, we have to accept that victims can be females or males. After all, feminism is meant to be about equality, isn’t it? I’m all for highlighting toxic masculinity – as long as we get to call out toxic femininity, too.