Depp v. Heard, and the anti-woman unhumanity of “#BelieveAllWomen”
I’m not the first to say it, but the unfolding Depp v. Heard defamation trial is serving to further expose the infantile and misguided nature of the “#BelieveAllWomen” sloganeering that arose from the “#MeToo” movement.
Seeing Amber Heard’s narrative fall apart in real time underscores the hastiness of the knee-jerk condemnation Johnny Depp faced when she first accused him of domestic abuse, as well as the insanity of the de rigueur tendency to conflate mere accusation with actual guilt, presumably in the name of identity politics. As Eliana Dockterman wrote in November 2020 after Depp was pressured by Warner Brothers to resign from the cast of Fantastic Beasts 3, “It’s astounding in a post-#MeToo world that a major studio like Warner Bros. would continue to film with Depp even as he was accused of assault in the courts.”
What seems to have been forgotten in this age of “#BelieveAllWomen” is the importance of due process, and the presumption of innocence. Saying that you unconditionally “believe all women” who happen to voice accusations (or even press charges) implies that you support the presumption of guilt, and undue process (for lack of a better term), especially if the accused happens to be a man. (Note: I’m not a lawyer, and am only writing from my own gut instincts about what is right and wrong. Mileage may vary.)
While proponents of “#BelieveAllWomen” may feel that they are fighting to empower women and address female injustice (as if that could be accomplished via a measly hashtag), I believe they are inadvertently debasing women, and thus advocating for anti-woman unhumanity without even realizing it.
To Err is Human
At the most basic level, all humans are fallible. After all, “nobody’s perfect”, and so we all make mistakes from time to time. Some mistakes are honest (i.e. “I forgot to set my alarm”), and others are driven either by unhealthy negative emotions or impure motives.
Making an accusation that is ultimately untrue can fall under any of the above categories of mistakes. (I’ll give Heard the benefit of the doubt…