Allgemein Gesellschaft in English

Marital Wars and Legal Battles

You guessed it: this is yet again about the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial. Whenever I get some distance from the topic, something comes along that makes me think. In this case, it was German TV. Before a very brief report, the presenter said something along the lines of this marital war (the literal translation of the German term is „war of roses“, which I personally find too poetic aside from the fact that the term means something completely different in English) being harmful to the protagonists and it being so unnecessary for them to wash their dirty laundry in public.

Now, is it really unnecessary? I honestly doubt that and that’s because of the damage that has been done already. What is true is that you have two people who had a highly volatile relationship. What is true is that there is one person who values privacy very much and another one who needs public attention, recognition – love; who also needs the constant attention and presence of the other partner in this relationship. What is true is that these concepts do not go well with each other and that they inevitably will blow up a relationship.

Now, there are tons of reasons why this kind of blowup will happen, in fact as many as there are people who have this problem. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are famous, that is why we see so much of their drama – but this is a drama that happens all the time, every day, and sometimes even worse. But because of the fame, there is an interest in their drama especially. Famous people are the princesses and princes of our time, and when there is no real prince or princess available, a movie star will do just fine. It soothes the soul of the masses to see that even when people have fame, all the money in the world and beautiful homes, fate can strike them down just like everybody else. That is the stuff that sells gossip rags, celebritiy magazines, TV shows and their websites. In a nutshell: This is what sells better than sex. People are predators when it comes to the calamity of others. It makes them feel better.

Am I feeding on that, too, by writing my thoughts down? Am I part of that despicable crowd when I watch as much of the trial as I can (and it is a lot, thanks to the time difference between the east coast of the United States and Germany)? Am I a predator because of my interest in the legal proceedings that are so very different from ours? I don’t know. Maybe. I hope not.

What really gets to me is the legal side of coming to terms with a very public emotional turmoil and that is where we are back with our German TV presenter: Is it necessary to dry out your dirty laundry that publicly? Taking into account the infamous court of public opinion, the fear of movie companies such as Warner Brothers and Disney of said court, I think that it has come to the point where it is necessary. With what is being reported, for example by 60 Minutes Australia (Stevie J. Raw made a review of that), it is important that both sides are listened to, as much as it might bother the respective other side. This trial seems to be the only possibility of getting that out to the public that is otherwise informed by so-called magazines who already have taken the side that promises the bigger advertising revenue. I sound bitter and maybe I am as bitter as disillusioned, I know. Please bear in mind that this is my opinion, nothing else.

So, yes, it is necessary from my point of view, and I want to be informed in entirety rather than having to believe one thing or another. And then there is this other aspect:

Our society is in a state of flux. Many of our beliefs, our social foundations are being questioned. There have been a variety of movements over the years helping women who are in a relationship with a violent man who is beating and berating them. We have reconsidered our perception of violence, as we now know that words can do as much damage (if not more, occasionally) as blows. The bruises to the soul heal far slowlier than those to the body. We know that. And we made the mistake of accusing men and men only. Our whole social perception is biased in the sense that women are good, gentle, physically weak human beings who would not be capable of violence in any way. That is the fairytale we all have been told from childhood on. In fairytales, you do have evil women – but those are witches. That’s not a real woman. Is it?

So, the concept that men can fall victim to the same violence, can be hurt, bruised, beaten, berated – exposed to violent behaviour of a woman is socially not accepted. You can see that clearly when you read through the articles on the marriage of Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, especially in the times when the story came out. Of course everybody believed the very beautiful woman. Of course this was a bombshell story! Johnny Depp, who kept his personal life to himself, who shielded his children from becoming public property and wanted his kids to see him as dad, not „as a novelty“! And now something so abhorrent! Of course journalists were more than ready to report that. That is gold in advertising revenue! (Sorry, getting bitter again.)

There are men who are affected by domestic violence. And they are not a rarity. If you want numbers, use the search engine you prefer. Research is the main purpose of the internet. I assure you, you will be really surprised of what you find. And this may be finally the cause for a change in paradigms. Perhaps society will begin – with your help – to understand that violence is not at all a privilege of men. Perhaps this is a step towards understanding that men and women can be equally violent. I do hope that this helps to reform familiy law and it leads to men having refuges where they can get away from the women who are violent towards them.

If this airing out of dirty laundry, as many English-language outlets put it, leads to a deeper understandig of the bad turns relationships can take and the acceptance that men who do not defend themselves physically against violence carried out by a woman are not wussies, but people in as serious trouble as it is when it is the other way around, then, I think, our society has taken one step further towards fairness and social justice. Should that happen, it will have been worth it for all of us.

If not, it will just be Johnny Depp who should get at least his career back. And I honestly hope he does.

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