Home / General / Do women materially benefit from making allegations of abuse against powerful men? (SPOILER: absolutely not.)

Do women materially benefit from making allegations of abuse against powerful men? (SPOILER: absolutely not.)

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US actress Amber Heard returns to the courtroom after a lunch break at the Fairfax County Circuit Court during a defamation case against her by ex-husband, US actor Johnny Depp, in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 4, 2022. – US actor Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” (Photo by ELIZABETH FRANTZ / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ELIZABETH FRANTZ/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Hobbes does an excellent, very detailed job of explaining why Amber Heard’s descriptions of being domestically abused are credible and very well-supported while Depp’s counter-claims are nonsensical and massively implausible. I particularly wanted to highlight this:

From the inception of his legal attack on his ex-wife, Depp has claimed that she engaged in a calculated, pre-meditated, years-long project to destroy his life. A text to a friend after she filed for divorce reads, “That cunt ruined such a fucking cool life we had for a while.” Slightly more politely but no more convincingly, his legal filing for the Virginia case says her allegations are “an elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity for Ms. Heard and advance her career.” 

Depp’s account of events doesn’t hold up to the slightest scrutiny. Heard’s first text messages to friends and family alleging abuse were from 2013 — two years before she even married Depp, much less divorced him. For his narrative to align with the available evidence, Heard would have had to convince numerous friends, ex-friends, professional contacts and neighbors to lie numerous times, under oath, for years — all while leaving no trace of her diabolical plan in the form of texts or e-mails.

At the most basic level, the accusation that Heard did all this to advance her own career doesn’t make sense. In general, women do not benefit from accusing powerful men of abuse. More specifically, consider Heard’s actions during and following her split from Depp. She filed for divorce in May 2016, then made the abuse allegations and filed for a restraining order shortly afterwards.

Depp and Heard had no pre-nuptial agreement, meaning she would have been entitled to millions in their divorce regardless of whether she was abused. She dropped her claim for ongoing support and ended up taking significantly less than she was entitled to. As part of the settlement, she withdrew the abuse allegations, signed an NDA, and co-signed a vague, anodyne statement that the relationship had been “volatile” but “there was never an intent of physical or emotional harm.”

And then, for years, nothing. She made a few oblique references to her relationship as part of her advocacy around #MeToo, but she never provided any details. Regardless of whether you think making abuse allegations is a viable way for women to advance their careers, they do in fact have to make them

One of the most popular claims made by professional and amateur misogynists alike is that making claims of abuse against powerful men is an effective way for women to advance their careers. One really obvious problem with this argument is that making claims of abuse against powerful men never helps women advance their careers and often destroys their careers. Admittedly, Depp’s version that Heard engaged in years-long conspiracy of elaborate lies so that she could make a big advance in her career by…making an oblique reference to an unnamed abuser in an op-ed is particularly ridiculous but the entire genre of argument is a social menace.

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