Tag Archives: spousal abuse

Why Johnny Depp (And Men Like Him) Will NEVER Get The Benefit Of The Doubt

Let’s be honest with ourselves. We’re all subject to certain biases and assumptions. Whether it involves religion, politics, or which movies you like, we can only ever be so objective. We’re not machines. It’s next to impossible to analyze a situation with cold, unfeeling logic and render a perfectly objective judgment.

I make that disclaimer because I’m about to talk about the ongoing situation between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Please note that I’ve been avoiding this topic, but not because it involves serious, emotionally charged issues. I’ve touched on issues of spousal abuse and double standards in the past before. I’ve even attempted to pose distressing thought experiments about gender politics and double standards.

This case, however, is one of those instances where it’s just too late. There’s no possible way to have a balanced discussion anymore. It has gone beyond he said/she said, celebrity gossip, and double standards. At this point, this whole case is just one big, ugly affair in which any side can find a detail to confirm whatever bias they want.

The details of the case are simple, but disturbing. When the anti-harassment movement was picking up steam, Amber Heard accused her ex-husband Johnny Depp of serious abuse. Her stories were disturbing, but enough people believed them that he was ultimately fired from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

At first, Heard’s story checked all the boxes for a standard #MeToo narrative. It was easy to believe because Johnny Depp, whatever you think about his movies, is an odd character. He’s no Tom Cruise, but many see him as eccentric, even by Hollywood standards. It’s not too hard to imagine him having a dark side.

Then, the narrative changed. During a number of legal battles, he accused Heard of being physically and emotionally abusive towards him. It’s not the typical narrative. There’s still a major taboo, as well as a gross double standard, surrounding women abusing men. It’s either not taken seriously or brushed off.

However, there’s one detail about Depp’s accusation that sets it apart from Heard’s. Unlike Heard, there’s actual audio evidence to back up his claims. This isn’t some rumored recording either. It was made public. It included direct quotes of Heard saying stuff like this:

“You didn’t get punched. You got hit. I’m sorry I hit you like this. But I did not punch you. I did not f***ing deck you. I f***ing was hitting you. I don’t know what the motion of my actual hand was, but you’re fine, I did not hurt you, I did not punch you, I was hitting you.”

To date, there has been no evidence to back up Heard’s claims about Depp. That didn’t stop her from doubling down on her claim as an ongoing libel trial wraps up. She still stands by her claims, even though she doesn’t have audio evidence to back up those claims. Even without it, there’s no guarantee the audio will make a difference.

This is where an uncomfortable, but unavoidable truth emerges. Regardless of your gender or your political leanings, this case has revealed something that has and will continue to disrupt any efforts towards gender equality.

Johnny Depp, and men like him, will never get the benefit of the doubt.

In making this statement, I’m not just referring to cases of spousal abuse. In the grand scheme of things, with respect to the various injustices driven by gender politics, we just can’t treat everyone by the same standard. We can try and we really should, but the results are always going to be mixed to some extent.

It’s hard to avoid. Were it not for that audio recording, how many would give Depp’s accusations of abuse by Heard any credence? He’s an eccentric, yet very successful actor in an industry that has a long history of enabling awful men. Him being an abuser just fits the standard narrative of how most people imagine spousal abuse.

Even before the anti-harassment movement, many of us already had that narrative ingrained in us. The idea of a woman abusing a man just doesn’t fit with every idea and assumption. We think spousal abuse and our immediate reflex is to think about a man abusing a woman. That’s the default. Anything other than that is going to draw skepticism.

On top of that, there’s also the beauty factor. That’s another distressing, but understated truth that this case has exposed. Amber Heard, however guilty she might be, is still a beautiful woman by most standards. Like it or not, beautiful women are far more likely to get the benefit of the doubt for pretty much everything, including abuse.

That’s not an extreme opinion. It’s well-documented that beautiful people have things easier and are given more credence. There’s even some biology to it. People are both drawn to beauty and feel compelled to trust, revere, and preserve it. Even if Johnny Depp was just as beautiful as her, relatively speaking, being a woman still gives her an edge.

Like I’ve noted before, women’s bodies tend to be more valued than men. As such, we’re just going to be more inclined to trust them, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons. That means, even with a verified audio recording of Amber Heard admitting physical abuse, we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt before Depp.

It’s not fair.

It’s not right.

It’s certainly not just.

Regardless of your gender politics, abuse is abuse. Women suffer from it, but so do men. Celebrities like Corey Feldman and Terry Crews have been vocal about it for years, but no matter how much awareness they raise, our biases don’t change. In cases of serious abuse, we’ll still never give them the benefit of the doubt.

There’s so much I can say about this case, which is one of the reasons I’ve avoided it. I’ve seen a lot of heated discussions between feminists, anti-feminists, liberals, conservatives, and even moderate-minded people. Very little actually comes of it. There’s no way this case will ever change anyone’s mind or shift their gender politics in any way.

Any instance of abuse is awful. Regardless of the outcome, it’s still going to leave everyone unsatisfied. Depp and Heard will have their respective supporters, but the overall narrative surrounding this case won’t change. A man accused of abuses a woman cannot and will not be viewed the same as a woman who abuses a man.

It’s tragic, as well as frustrating. That’s just the current state of affairs for gender politics. A lot will likely change because of this global pandemic, but this ingrained narrative will likely persist. The end result is more abuse and less justice.

Leave a comment

Filed under Celebrities and Celebrity Culture, Current Events, gender issues, media issues, men's issues, outrage culture, political correctness, politics, psychology, sex in society, women's issues

Hard Truths: Justice, Injustice, And O.J. Simpson

I understand that not everything I say on this blog is going to be popular, sexy, or funny. I don’t doubt that there are opinions I’ve shared and jokes I’ve told that haven’t gone over well. There may be even a few people out there who have read them and felt the urge to punch me in the face through their computer screen.

I understand that. It’s just part of the internet. You’re going to say things people hate and meet people who hate your guts. I’m sure there are people who still haven’t forgiven me for my post on the mind of misogynistic men. I won’t apologize for saying what I say, but please understand that I don’t say it with the intention of hurting or upsetting people.

I say all this as a preface, of sorts, because I know some of the things I’ll say in this post are going to upset some people. If not on this post, I’m sure there will be other posts that draw anger, disgust, and disagreement. Some of these issues are not as innocent as sex robots, Wonder Woman’s BDSM origins, or the sexiness of chest hair. They’re real, serious issues.

The issue, in this case, has to do with something that’s fairly timely in the sense that it often comes up this time of year. Just this past week was the 23rd anniversary of the infamous O.J. Simpson Bronco chase. It happened on June 17th, 1994. It was one of those days where everyone remembers where they were. It’s also one of those days where everyone formed an ardent opinion that still divides people to this day.

At the time, I was fairly young and didn’t really understand the gravity of what was going on. I kept hearing the name O.J. Simpson in the news. I kept seeing people watch the trial on TV, talk about it, and obsess over it. Being so young, I thought it was annoying. All that talk about O.J. Simpson cut into time I’d rather be using to read comics, watch cartoons, and play video games.

I guess you can say I’m part of a generation that only ever knew O.J. Simpson as the alleged murderer who got away with it. Pretty much anyone born before 1982 only knows this side of O.J. Simpson. When they hear his name, they usually think of the Bronco chase, the trial, and the bloody glove. They don’t think of the larger context.

There are members of my own family, as well as major news figures like Keith Olbermann, who’ve tried to explain to me just how big a deal this was. It’s hard for them to convey to people of my generation just how beloved O.J. Simpson once was. Between his Hall of Fame football career, his acting career, and his iconic Hertz commercials, it’s impossible to overstate just how popular this man was.

There was actually a time when the name O.J. Simpson had many positive connotations. He was a celebrity sports icon whose popularity transcended race, class, and everything in between. For someone like him to be accused of a ghastly double-murder was akin to Captain America becoming a Nazi. Actually, that’s a bad example.

It’s because of that other side of O.J. Simpson, namely the one that people of my generation never saw, that his trial became the “Trial of the Century.” That trial, and the controversial verdict that followed, still divides America to this day, often among racial lines.

If you want to have an uncomfortable conversation about race, justice, injustice, and the legal system, pretty much every distressing element you can think of is highlighted by the O.J. Simpson case. It involves spousal abuse, police corruption, racism, media spectacles, and the Kardashian family. Even today, this kind of spectacle would check all the right boxes to become a total media shit storm.

There are so many aspects of the murder trial, the aftermath, the media circus, and the tenuous relationship O.J. Simpson had with his ex-wife, Nichole, that I could highlight. In every case, there are elements to that story that are both unsexy and controversial, dividing and enraging people of every opinion.

However, there’s only one part I want to single out for this particular post. It’s probably going to upset more people than most. I might even get some hate for it. That said, it’s one of those hard truths that needs to be said, even if it’s uncomfortable. Brace yourself because here it is.

The jury in the O.J. Simpson trial got it RIGHT.

Now, it’s my turn to brace myself. I know that opinion isn’t very popular. I also know most of the people in my own family disagree with it. I’ve talked to close relatives about it. They’re all convinced that O.J. Simpson is guilty. They all believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that O.J. brutally murdered his ex-wife and Ronald Goldman. There’s nothing anyone can say or do that can convince them otherwise.

Therein lies the problem, though. It’s one that I’ve pointed out before when I’ve talked about reasons, excuses, and the idea of excuse banking. We all like to think of ourselves as rational, logical human beings that Spock from Star Trek would get along with. In reality, we’re nothing of the sort.

Our brains don’t work through logic. Our brains can use it, but it’s only every a secondary function. Our default caveman setting is to form an irrational opinion first and then look for ways to justify it. It doesn’t matter if it’s racist, sexist, or wholly irrational. That’s how our brains work. That’s how most people look at the O.J. Simpson case.

The problem is, from a legal point of view, that our justice system does everything it can to circumvent those flaws and it’s not always good at it. There’s a reason why criminal justice reform is a major topic these days. The justice system is woefully inefficient at dealing with all crime fairly, especially those committed by minorities.

That’s part of what makes the O.J. Simpson case such an important case, but not for the reason you might think. The reason why it matters so much and why it’s such a harsh truth to digest is because the O.J. Simpson trial highlighted how the justice system is supposed to work. In a perfect world, every criminal would get the kind of legal defense that O.J. Simpson got. The fact that O.J. is black only makes the truth that much harder.

Like it or not, the O.J. Simpson trial got right one of the most important elements of our criminal justice system, at least with respect on how it’s supposed to work. It is built around the idea that a defendant is presumed innocent and must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

It can’t just be probable that someone is guilty. It can’t just be likely either. To convict someone of a serious felony, like a double murder, it has to be beyond any reasonable doubt. That’s a very lofty standard and for good reason.

Legal systems in modern western societies emphasize ensuring guilt and not punishing the innocent. There’s a callous practical reason for that too. In a society built around a modern economy, we can’t have the state throwing innocent people in prisons who could otherwise be working and contributing. That’s why if someone is accused of a crime, the system has to make damn sure that they’re guilty.

In O.J. Simpson’s case, and I know this is going to make a lot of people gnash their teeth on a cinder-block, there was reasonable doubt. Pretty much all the evidence against O.J. was either circumstantial or hearsay. On top of that, the LAPD had a sordid history of corruption and racial bias. Police do frame suspects and innocent people do get charged with crimes they didn’t commit.

Unlike most of those innocent people, though, O.J. Simpson had access to the best legal help that money could buy. Those men might be despised now for defending O.J. However, there’s no getting around it. They did their jobs. They did exactly what a lawyer is supposed to do.

They revealed the reasonable doubt surrounding the case and, as upsetting as it might have been, there was reasonable doubt. The blood evidence was immense, but so was the evidence of improper handling and corruption from the officers involved. There are a great many theories as to what actually happened, but that doesn’t matter in the end.

The mere presence of that doubt meant that the jury did the right thing in acquitting O.J. Simpson. It’s a painful truth, especially to the families of Nichole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Their story will always be the biggest tragedy of the O.J. Simpson case. However, as hard as it is to accept, the justice system was right in this case.

There’s so much more to the O.J. Simpson story that I could talk about. I’m going to avoid it because any discussion about this case is bound to trigger all sorts of anger and outrage. If you want to hear more about this topic, including O.J. Simpson, check out the Unpopular Opinion podcast. They’re usually pretty balanced and pretty funny as well.

Short of a confession, complete with photographs and a bloody knife, we’ll never know what happened in the O.J. Simpson case. It’s that inability to truly know that’s the hardest to accept. Our caveman brains just can’t deal with that kind of uncertainty so we cling to our opinions and excuses.

Personally, I think it’s likely that O.J. did murder his ex-wife and Ron Goldman. At the very least, I think he had something to do with it. However, I don’t know all the facts. Nobody knows all the facts. That’s why, in the context of justice, his acquittal was the right thing to do.

It’s for that very reason, though, that we need a justice system that works around that. We, as a people, are at the mercy of our caveman brains and its inability to use logic properly. That’s the biggest challenge of our justice system, having to deal with all these shortcomings. It’s not perfect. For the O.J. Simpson case, at least, we see first-hand how it’s supposed to work, even if we don’t like the outcome.

4 Comments

Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights

Finding Love Through A Twisted Sense Of “Normal”

I’ve always been bothered by the concept of “normal” and not just because the concept of normalcy makes it difficult to tell a sufficiently sexy romance/erotica story. It’s just a fact of life. Nobody’s boxers are getting tight and nobody’s panties are getting wet by reading about something bland and ordinary.

The characters I write in my books rarely fall under the guise of “normal” and if they do, it doesn’t last or their concept of normal is overtly skewed. Grace Goodwin, the main character in my book, “The Final Communion,” may have been normal by the twisted standards of her surroundings, but from an outside perspective, she might as well be a monkey in a banana factory.

This concept of “normal” has been on my mind a lot lately and not just because I worry about the not-so-normal sentiment I may get by being over 30 and single. Since my pending novel, “Passion Relapse,” finally got picked up by a publisher, I’ve been contemplating ways to follow up the themes that made that book work.

No, I’m not talking about a shameless, Rocky Balboa-style sequel. I’m not looking to build a goddamn Twilight franchise out of one novel. I’m just assessing the elements that worked in “Passion Relapse” so I can refine those elements for bigger, better, and sexier stories. The more pants I can tighten and panties I can moisten, the better.

After revising, editing, and even rewriting certain parts of “Passion Relapse,” I think I’ve gotten a better feel for what makes the characters involved so appealing. Naturally, they are admittedly not normal. In fact, they’re so not normal that their non-normal behavior causes them serious pain and distress. It gets very heated and not just in a sexy sort of way.

This got me thinking and for an aspiring erotica/romance writer, that can lead to any number of crazy/sex/awesome ideas. In this case, I find myself imaging a situation where someone has such a skewed sense of “normal” that most people who survived high school with their sanity intact can’t wrap their heads around it.

I’m not talking about extreme religious cults, like I did with “The Final Communion” or exotic futuristic technology like I did with “Skin Deep.” In fact, there is a very real-world parallel to this idea here. Sadly, it involves the inherently unsexy topic of abusive relationships.

I’ll give everyone a moment to unclench their assholes. I promise, this conversation isn’t going to get that disturbing. There are plenty of real-world examples where abusive romances have become exceedingly disturbing, up to the point where they become annoyingly permanent fixtures in popular culture. Then again, they can also become classic Disney movies so there is room to tell a story.

In this case, the story I’m interesting in telling has to do with someone who sees an abusive relationship as normal. No, I don’t mean the kind of abuse that makes for fun BDSM roles, which can actually be healthy. I’m talking about the really bad kind of abusive relationships that makes nobody horny in any capacity.

It is a real issue. There are women (and even a few men) who end up in abusive relationships, but become so accustomed to them that they seem normal. It’s that twisted sense of normalcy that skews our perspective that creates situations where people stay in these relationships or struggle to leave them.

A couple years ago, Time did an article about women who stayed in abusive relationships. The reasons were varied, ranging from concern about children to this twisted sense of responsibility that they had to be the ones to help. There are all sorts of sad, tragic, and distressing stories here. How can anyone make a story like that sexy?

It’s a good thing I love a challenge. I especially love a challenge that gives me a chance to create a novel, unique form of romance that’ll stand out in a sea of vampires, princesses, and male strippers. This won’t be a story that involves aliens, unreal technology, or supernatural forces either. This will be as raw, real, and sexy as I can make it.

Are your assholes unclenched? Good because this is a story that, like “Passion Relapse,” will emphasize romance more than the sexy stuff. Make no mistake, the sexy stuff will be there. You will need dry panties at one point. However, I want to focus on the emotional undertones for this story.

How will I do this? Once again, it requires a thought experiment. I know I ask my readers to do a lot of those on this blog, but I promise it’s for a good reason. It may not always make you horny, but it will get you thinking for the right reasons.

Picture somebody, male or female, who comes from a family in which being somewhat abusive and controlling is considered normal. Their parents have an abusive relationship. Their siblings have abusive relationships. This is just how their family is. This is how they’ve been. Since we do tend to adopt our parents’ beliefs and attitudes, it’s not wholly unrealistic.

Now, picture that same person, be they male or female, encountering something (or someone) that shakes their world. It completely undermines their understanding of what it means to be in a relationship, to love someone, or even what constitutes abuse. It’s so profound and so jarring that it overwhelms someone into completely reassessing everything they thought they knew about themselves.

I’d love to reveal more, but this is a developing idea. This is a concept I’m still fleshing out. However, there is one theme I want to emphasize here. Someone who sees something so harmful as normal sometimes needs a really jarring event to shake them out of this mindset. Some won’t even question their idea of normal until it’s shoved in their face.

This can be (and often is) traumatic. This is why admitting your wrong is right up there with dental surgery and rectal trauma in terms of unpleasantness. Our brains aren’t wired to constantly change and rethink things. It’s wired to remain consistent so we can focus on surviving bear attacks long enough to reproduce.

So how does someone escape that twisted idea of normalcy? How do they avoid the same tragedies they’ve seen in family and loved ones? For this story, there will definitely be obstacles and some of those obstacles can make fists. It’s a real challenge, but one that can bring out the best and worst in some people.

Working on “Passion Relapse” has given me a renewed sense of energy in confronting that challenge. I feel like this is a story worth telling. It’s a story that may be more relevant now than ever with issues like spousal abuse and harassment being such hot-button issues. If I can confront that issue and make it into a sexy story, then I feel like I’ve done my job.

1 Comment

Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights