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What exactly did the op-ed piece that led to the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp lawsuits say?

The Virginia trial is nearing its conclusion, and everyone is anxiously expecting the final verdict.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp have been in the eye of the storm during the last six weeks. The actor accused his former wife of defamation following the publication of an opinion article in The Washington Post in 2018.

With the final verdict about to be revealed and after having heard both parties’ statements along with witnesses and evidence, there is still a question that many curious people do not remove from the line: What exactly did the opinion article that started the legal troubles between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp say?

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In 2018, Amber Heard wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post, which was titled: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.

After the publication of the op-ed, which focused on domestic violence, Johnny Depp claimed that even when the piece doesn’t mention him directly, it was defamation against him. This, according to him, made him lose several professional projects; such is the case of the films Pirates of the Caribbean and Fantastic Beasts franchise.

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After Johnny Depp lost his libel suit against The Sun newspaper in England, the legal problem crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Virginia, where it has been broadcasted live, in the pure American style, which still has neither a guilty nor innocent party.

What did Amber Heard’s op-ed say?

Amber Heard’s op-ed in The Washington Post, for which all the legal troubles began, starts as follows:

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“I was exposed to abuse at a very young age. I knew certain things early on, without ever having to be told. I knew that men have the power — physically, socially, and financially — and that a lot of institutions support that arrangement. I knew this long before I had the words to articulate it, and I bet you learned it young, too.”

In the article published in 2018, just two years after her divorce from Johnny Depp, she noted, “Like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college-age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim.”

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One of the important points was when she noted that “two years ago (2016, the year of the divorce), I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”

She also noted, “Friends and advisers told me I would never again work as an actress — that I would be blacklisted. A movie I was attached to recast my role. I had just shot a two-year campaign as the face of a global fashion brand, and the company dropped me. Questions arose as to whether I would be able to keep my role of Mera in the movies ‘Justice League’ and ‘Aquaman.’”

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She continues, “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse. Imagine a powerful man as a ship, like the Titanic. That ship is a huge enterprise. When it strikes an iceberg, there are a lot of people on board desperate to patch up holes — not because they believe in or even care about the ship, but because their own fates depend on the enterprise.”

“In recent years, the #MeToo movement has taught us about how power like this works, not just in Hollywood but in all kinds of institutions — workplaces, places of worship, or simply in particular communities. In every walk of life, women are confronting these men who are buoyed by social, economic, and cultural power. And these institutions are beginning to change.”

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Amber Heard on gender-based violence

“We are in a transformative political moment. The president of our country (former president Donald Trump) has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct, including assault and harassment. Outrage over his statements and behavior has energized a female-led opposition. #MeToo started a conversation about just how profoundly sexual violence affects women in every area of our lives. And last month, more women were elected to Congress than ever in our history, with a mandate to take women’s issues seriously. Women’s rage and determination to end sexual violence are turning into a political force.”

Likewise, the actress highlighted the movements and laws against violence against women: “We have an opening now to bolster and build institutions protective of women. For starters, Congress can reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act. First passed in 1994, the act is one of the most effective pieces of legislation enacted to fight domestic violence and sexual assault. It creates support systems for people who report abuse and provides funding for rape crisis centers, legal assistance programs, and other critical services. It improves responses by law enforcement, and it prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ survivors. Funding for the act expired in September and has only been temporarily extended.”

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Heard added, “We should continue to fight sexual assault on college campuses, while simultaneously insisting on fair processes for adjudicating complaints. Last month, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed changes to Title IX rules governing the treatment of sexual harassment and assault in schools. While some changes would make the process for handling complaints more fair, others would weaken protections for sexual assault survivors. For example, the new rules would require schools to investigate only the most extreme complaints, and then only when they are made to designated officials. Women on campuses already have trouble coming forward about sexual violence — why would we allow institutions to scale back supports?”

A defining part of the op-ed was the conclusion, in which she noted how she felt vulnerable on camera: “I write this as a woman who had to change my phone number weekly because I was getting death threats. For months, I rarely left my apartment, and when I did, I was pursued by camera drones and photographers on foot, on motorcycles, and in cars. Tabloid outlets that posted pictures of me spun them in a negative light. I felt as though I was on trial in the court of public opinion — and my life and livelihood depended on myriad judgments far beyond my control.”

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And finally, “I want to ensure that women who come forward to talk about violence receive more support. We are electing representatives who know how deeply we care about these issues. We can work together to demand changes to laws and rules and social norms — and to right the imbalances that have shaped our lives.”

The article was published on December 18, 2018, and Amber Heard’s short profile at the top reads, “Amber Heard is an actress and ambassador on women’s rights at the American Civil Liberties Union.”

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Story originally published in Cultura Colectiva

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