I have no particular interest in the characters Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. However, they have performed an important public service and as a result of the live-streaming of their recent defamation trial, it is now possible to have a more intelligent and informed conversation on the subject of intimate partner violence IPV. Also in the wake of the defamation trial, a lot of thoughtful writing has appeared and I am confident that there is more to come. I normally avoid reference dumps instead of a post but some of this writing is so encouraging I make an exception to this rule.
- Jerry Coyne, writing in the wide-ranging blog – Why Evolution Is True, turns his attention to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and their role in the defamation of Johnny Depp. Jerry observes that the ACLU has gone woke and it was they who wrote Amber’s piece in the Washington Post. The ACLU pitched the story to the Washington Post with the following statement “Wondering if we might interest you in a piece by Amber Heard (who, as you may recall, was beaten up during her brief marriage to Johnny Depp), on what the incoming Congress can to do to help protect women in similar situations.” In short, an organization that purports to defend civil liberties had decided on Depp’s guilt without due process. In my opinion, the ACLU needs to be held to account for this misdemeanor. For the full article click here.
- Hannah Gal wrote an article in Lotus Eaters titled- Johnny Told the World, Johnny Changed the World. She dedicates her article to Earl Silverman, a Canadian domestic abuse survivor who set up a privately funded men’s shelter. Sadly, he took his own life after selling his shelter due to bankruptcy and facing public ridicule. Hannah observes that the trial gave an insight into the crushing reality of domestic abuse. She notes that other than a handful of pioneers such as Erin Pizzey few have been willing to contemplate the possibility that women can also be violent and controlling. That has changed as a result of this trial.
- Depp v. Heard and the Current State of English Jurisprudence. The trial also revealed a great deal of snobbery among some UK journalists who argued that the proceedings in the UK should have been the final word on the matter and that our American cousins could not be trusted to run a fair trial. This article takes the opposite approach and asks the question ‘can men get a fair impartial trial in England if they are accused by a woman’? Sadly there is no prospect of Ms Heard being pursued for lying under oath in a UK court.
- Amber Heard’s Toxic Feminity – This article, written by Jessa Crispin appeared in Unherd on May 19th and is more balanced than the title might suggest. Jessa acknowledges that it is an inconvenient reality that powerful women can monetise stories of ‘abuse and survival’ and this is what some men call toxic femininity. The article also points out that the media often wants a simple binary narrative where one person is guilty and one person is innocent. Life, however, is often more complicated than that. It seems to me that the jury understood that better than most commentators in the media.
- Domestic Violence is Not a Result of Patriarchy – You have to beware of all-encompassing theories that appear to explain away everything about the relationships between men and women. Patriarchy is one such theory, an invisible force that permeates our culture and ensures male power. Patriarchy theory reduces society to the complexity of an AA battery with men at the positive terminal and women at the negative terminal. According to this theory, men become violent out of a sense of entitlement and as a means of asserting control over women. The reality is more subtle – conflict within relationships in inevitable but most couples find ways or resolving those conflicts without resorting to violence. People with insecure attachment styles are less able to resolve such conflicts and are more prone to IPV. If we want to understand the root causes and hopefully reduce IPV we need to understand these complex dynamics, rather than clinging to a mystical theory ‘the patriarchy’ that has all the intellectual credibility of phlogiston.
I hope you enjoy these articles.