“Final Project” – Violence – “Traditional Paper”


“Love” Kills – Heartbreak

By: @bchloe96


I’m sure that many of you have seen Amber Heard and Johnny Depp someway, somehow through the media recently. However, if you have not heard about the latest rumors on these two celebrities I can fill you in. With the reading of a single sentence I’m sure you’ll begin to become just as annoyed as I was when learning about these two. The latest “TMZ” website post, from 1 A.M. June 2, 2016, starts by saying, “Johnny Depp has gone from calling Amber Heard the love of his life to the scum of the earth…”¹. Let me explain why Johnny had probably been so harsh towards his, once, “love of his life.” Amber Heard and Johnny Depp had been married for about a little over a year before Heard filed for divorce whilst citing irreconcilable differences. The timing was shocking as it took place just 3 short days after the passing of Depp’s mother, whom he seems to have been quite close with.

Later, Heard showed up to court with bruises on her face claiming that she had been physically assaulted by Depp. The alleged attack resulting in bruising her face took place on May 21st. She went on to say that she has been a victim of domestic violence repeatedly at his hands. It was then discovered that legal documents she has filed state accounts of Depp  demonstrating physical violence against her throughout the entirety of their relationship. Heard explained that she believes drug and alcohol abuse is partially to blame for Depp’s violent behavior towards her. Throughout ongoings of legal matters headlines danced around Amber and Johnny’s names. Two that I wanted to point out are both from TMZ. The first one, from June 10th, is “Amber Heard It’s Not About Money It’s About Protection From Johnny.” The other, dated June 11th, states, “Johnny Depp It’s All About Money for Amber She Begs to Differ.”

Many of Depp’s friends, family, and exes came forward through media interviews stating how Johnny never could have done what Amber says he did. There is a major lack of interviews with friends of Amber, or at least on “TMZ” there is. Just days later, on the 13th of June it was reported that Heard had called the cops on Depp because “his people” were taking items from his L.A. home downtown which Amber was in. This violated a 100 yard restraining order a judge had issued to Depp against Heard earlier. We later find out that Depp offers to settle with Heard. Much of the media reports that representatives of Amber were stating that she didn’t want to settle and that Johnny only offered to settle due to a fear of what Heard might say on the stand. She had already filed for a permanent restraining order against Depp, in addition. However, the hearing on Heard’s restraining order has been postponed so you’ll have to sit on the edge of your seat until that fun day comes around. I very strongly feel that the amount of domestic violence cases that are discussed in the media today is absolutely absurd.Whether it be accusations, trials, jail time, child custody, or all of the above it is a terrible thing to take place and it’s even more terrible how much of an everyday news story that it has become.

There have been many famous cases of domestic violence, specifically amongst celebrities. Some of the most famous cases include: Chris Brown and Rihanna, Charlie Sheen and Brittany Ashland, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson, Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra,  and Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne;  to name a few. The  full list is quite extensive. This extensive of a list is something that I felt needed to be addressed. Domestic violence cases may be viewed in a certain light (in this specific example: amongst celebrities) due to the portrayal by the media. But the media is only a portion of the webs of complication that are these domestic violence cases. The emotional and psychological effects on victims in cases of domestic violence, especially those that are highly publicized through the media, can become extremely complicated. I am specifically talking about “victim-blaming” and the media’s influence on how these cases are viewed.

Something that I can confidently say, due to slight personal experience (unfortunately), is that domestic violence is extremely scary and it’s serious. It’s a serious accusation. I have too many friends who have experienced domestic violence type situations and not known where to go after the confrontation. Something that really bugged me about what I saw in the media regarding Amber and Johnny’s case was how often, relentlessly, and creatively Amber was called a liar. My point is not to comment on whether or not I believe Amber or Johnny more. My point is that her accusing Depp of domestic violence seemed to give her more stress than Johnny was given. There was representation of people saying ugly, nasty things about Depp the same way those things were said about Amber. This representation was unmistakably less, however.

This can all be taken back to the media. The media has an enormous amount of power in deciding what, how much, when, and where they will report. We don’t know whether or not a million people were saying horrible, ugly things to or about Johnny Depp and if only twenty were saying similar things to or about Amber. We only know what the media chooses to share with us. It has showed us, hypothetically speaking, about 15 anti-Amber interviewees and about 5 anti-Johnny interviewees. Just as an example, of course. This media portrayal is fairly likely to lead the viewer to believe, as I have previously pointed out, that more people are against Amber than with her.

I really think that there is something to be said for that. I will stand by what I said earlier and resist expressing my opinion on who’s right and who’s wrong in this particular case (Which I find funny, by the way. The fact that the media makes me, among many others, feel as if we have a right to speak and state our opinions freely on a personal, painful, and private case amongst two ex-lovers. Let alone the fact that we feel as if we have a right to know about the innermost-workings of such cases.). But, I really do believe that there is something to be said about the fact that women, not just Amber alone, are willing to report cases of domestic violence. Especially those cases in which they are the victim. These women, assuming that they have even the slightest bit of awareness, know that they will be accused of lying or, even worse, being guilted and/or blamed for their victimization when they go to report (a) case(s) of domestic violence.Those who still choose to report the incident are those whom I have said are something to be said for. Werner Bohmke documented his ideas on how victim-blaming became the norm amongst our society today in response to (sometimes alleged) reports of sexual violence:

Social explanations for incidences of sexual violence frequently take the form of accounts of the event which facilitate the attribution of blame and responsibility between the individuals involved in certain ways. It has frequently been the case that such attributions provide discursive and rhetorical support for the perpetuation of rape myths and victim-blaming practices and which, in turn, become the discursive resources that undergird rape-supportive cultural attitudes and practices. (Bohmke)

To sum that all up, while we as a society are looking for the answers as to why sexual assaults occur, we put some kind of responsibility on those who were involved in the incident, no matter how they took part.

Unfortunately, I can relate the issues of victim-blaming in relation to domestic violence to my own experiences. My best friend sought me out for advice after another male student at her college took advantage of her while she was under the influence. She told me about how he pressured, and even worse forced, her to perform sexual acts on and with him. While she was talking to me about it she told me how “dirty” she felt. I can’t help but feel that this is due to the double-standards that maintain a strong presence within our society today; particularly, here, when it comes to women and sex. One of the strongest double-standards that maintains its stance within our society today can be identified using the phrase, “boys will be boys.” Hlavka put it much more eloquently when she wrote:

Young women overwhelmingly depicted boys and men as natural sexual aggressors, pointing to one of the main tenets of compulsory heterosexuality. Incorporating male sexual drive discourse (Phillips 2000), they described men as unable to control their sexual desires. Male power and privilege and female acquiescence were reified in descriptions of “routine” and “normal” sexualized interactions (Fineran and Bennett 1999; French 2003). Assaultive behaviors were often justified, especially when characterized as indiscriminate. (Hlavka 8)

Meaning, society normalizes the idea that men are highly sexual beings that cannot control themselves and may even resort to violence. Hlavka just explained the societal norm that is women accepting the idea that men cannot control their sexuality and it is up to the woman to “acquiesce” to their sexual desires as to avoid their ‘uncontrollable violence and rage’ that may result otherwise. 

My best friend was greatly affected by the incident and told me about how she almost felt as if she wasn’t clear enough with him in not wanting to do certain things. I could tell from the way that she was talking to me, and from knowing her since being in classes together since kindergarten, that she was almost (if not she definitely was) blaming herself for what had happened to her. We talked about how we know that you cannot consent to taking part in any kind of sexual act(s) if you are intoxicated (which she was). I also reminded her that consent can only be given verbally. I expressed this to her to reinforce that just because she didn’t give him a “yes” or “no” response, it does not mean that she consented to do anything with him. Typing this all up now, it makes me think about what I have learned about myths when it comes to rape and victim-blaming. O’Hara states that:

Rape myths, which can be defined as ‘prejudicial, stereotyped or false beliefs, prejudices or stereotypes about rape, rapists, and rape victims’ , are prevalent within discussions of sexual violence. Popular rape myths about rape victims include:‘only bad girls get raped’, victims ‘ask for it’ by getting drunk at parties or wearing provocative clothing, and women who claim they were raped are lying, have ulterior motives, or wanted sex at the time but changed their minds afterwards. These myths shift the blame to the victim. Myths about rapists tend to portray the perpetrators as ‘sex-starved, insane, or both’ which implies that an instance of rape where the perpetrator cannot be described as such is not ‘real’ rape. These myths frequently appear in the news media. It has been found that ‘perpetrators of violence are regularly described as “beasts” or “perverts” and distanced from “ordinary” men, imagery that has grown increasingly prevalent over time. (O’Hara, 247-248)

I only wish I could have expressed all this knowledge I had gained throughout the entirety of this course, on subjects such as these exact ones, to my best friend while she was in pain. O’Hara’s quote brings up what I have been talking about with the media as well. My friend put some blame on herself for what had happened because we have both grown up with a media that has always blamed victims of sexual assault, in some form or another.

Yet, another example of how the media has and is influencing our view on domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, or however else you want to word it has been through the recently popular novel “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD spoke of this novel and the media’s strong portrayal of sex in her editorial. She stated that, “… the American Academy of Pediatrics has encouraged conversations about media and the harmful effects of media in the context of anticipatory guidance for children and adolescents,” (Miller 109). She goes on that, “simultaneously, we need to advocate for films, song lyrics, and videos that depict healthy relationships, sexual consent, gender equity, nonviolent conflict resolution, substance use avoidance, and pregnancy prevention,” (Miller 109). Although I believe that some of her ideas are slightly unrealistic, due to my personal experience with being a teenager and young adult and living with strict parents, she brought up many new ideas for me as well. When I think of the media and these domestic violence cases I solely think of the interviews they do or the stories they cover. I was ignorant to the many other forms of media such as popular fantasy novels or summer pop songs about sex. To think that all of these different forms of media sending messages to me, and my best friend, throughout the entirety of my life and be so unaware of it is fascinating but frustrating at the same time. The media had even, technically, made my friend victim-blame herself when there was nobody there to do it to her.

It was extremely hard to witness my best friend, not only mentally but socially (in addition to many other issues), struggle with processing the events that had occurred. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for her. We had talked about it prior to this second time that she opened up to me about it. I became increasingly worried as she told me about having, what I considered to be, an anxiety attack. It was all just from seeing the man who assaulted her at the end of a hallway on her campus. I told her that, although I pride myself quite highly on being a good listener and giving good advice, she needed to talk to a professional about it as I am not a professional and knew I was not well enough educated on the topic of domestic violence to help her as well as someone else possibly could. If she had come to me today, instead of prior to me taking this course, I would have more than likely been able to give her much stronger advice. She went to see a counselor on her campus about it and the counselor told her that, although he definitely did sexually assault her by definition, it was a “he-said-she-said” situation.

I find it quite peculiar that her counselor chose to use those exact words whilst speaking with her. Particularly because, prior to her going into the session with her counselor, we had discussed how serious a sexual assault accusation was. It was quite intimidating for her to even consider pressing charges against him. I could tell that she was traumatized from the events and didn’t want to further recognize anything that would take her back to that night. We also discussed how serious of an accusation a domestic assault is. Being convicted of an act of domestic violence can ruin your life. You can end up on the sex offender list for the entirety of the rest of your life, if found guilty. Once on the sex offender list, it is near impossible to obtain a job with a wage that one can possibly live off of. Though mainly, and I don’t even know where to begin with this, you will be the girl that every guy is afraid to get involved with. Once again, this comes with the double-standard of a high frequency of sex for guys as compared to girls.

Luckily, the counselor found a way for her to avoid this guy without him knowing about it being her, specifically, whom was pressing legal charges. The counselor encouraged her to do an anonymous piece order. This meant that my best friend would never have to come into any kind of contact with this awful man ever again. He is not allowed to live in the same dorm building as her, be in any of the same classes, or work at the same job. In addition, she gets priority over him in all of these situations. I just wish that I had known about this being an option sooner. She doesn’t have to worry about having any more panic attacks because she won’t ever be seeing him again (Thank God!). She also didn’t have to worry about going through a whole legal case and seeing his face again or having people accuse her of being “the girl who cried wolf,” a liar, etc., etc. She doesn’t have to worry about him holding any anger against her for these consequences he must now face due to the order’s anonymity.

Saving the best for last is a quote from Jessica Valenti that really, and still really does, resonated with me.

When women’s sexuality is imagined to be passive or “dirty,” it also means that men’s sexuality is automatically positioned as aggressive and right-no matter what form it takes. And when one of the conditions of masculinity, a concept that is already so fragile in men’s minds, is that men dissociate from women and prove their manliness through aggression, we’re encouraging a culture of violence and sexuality that’s detrimental to both men and women. (Valenti 172)

I spoke of how my very best friend cried while telling me about how “dirty” she felt because a grown, sober man took advantage of her while she was intoxicated. I see Valenti’s quote as being so powerful. My reasoning is that she introduced another aspect of society in which men and women are so far dissociated from one another. It is yet another media portrayal of women being submissive to a dominant, male figure. Throughout the years, society has cemented into our brains that this is just how things work. Valenti made me understand how, doing what society said was right to do actually just helped maintain the social hierarchy that exists amongst our society. We are simply sticking to the status quo by not challenging ideas on sexuality and gender. In contrast to the ideas of mean being dominant over women when it comes to sex, which Valenti brought up as being a concern of hers, the study in “I’m a Sex Kitten Aren’t I,” showed how women were being empowered through sex. Participants in the study were asked about their sexual and romantic history and participated in sexual experiments and/or tests. The participants ranged in age and gender and some participants were related. It was concluded from the findings that:

These data raise a whole series of questions about women’s gendered subjectivities and the extent to which the experiences described can be understood in terms of women’s autonomous agency or, by contrast, whether they support arguments which suggest that ultimately women’s sexual pleasure remains dependent upon the ways in which it is framed within a patriarchal society; upon their structural dependency upon men in both the workplace and the home; and upon their relative powerlessness within heterosexual relationships. (Meah, Hockey, Robinson 68-69)

If you only take one thing away from this post today please let it be the following. Domestic violence is a serious offense and a serious accusation and should be handled as such. We need to recognize that so many of these cases go unreported due to people being unaware of all of their options as solutions and a fear of victim-blaming. Educate yourself on these issues, in addition to others, as we should all know by now how “choosy” the media can be with what they do and do not share.

Sources

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Information:

Staff, TMZ. “Amber Heard Files For Divorce.” TMZ. TMZ, 25 May 2016. Web. 02 July 2016.

Staff, TMZ. “Amber Heard Claims Domestic Violence Gets Restraining Order Against Johnny Depp.” TMZ. TMZ, 27 May 2016. Web. 02 July 2016.

Staff, TMZ. “Amber Heard Claims Johnny’s Violence Triggered By Drug, Alcohol Abuse.” TMZ. TMZ, 27 May 2016. Web. 02 July 2016.

Staff, TMZ. “Amber Heard It’s Not About Money It’s About Protection From Johnny.” TMZ. TMZ, 10 June 2016. Web. 02 July 2016.

Staff, TMZ. “Johnny Depp It’s All About Money For Amber She Begs to Differ.” TMZ. TMZ, 11 June 2016. Web. 02 July 2016.

Staff, TMZ. “Amber Heard Calls Cops … Johnny’s Raiding The House.” TMZ. TMZ, 13 June 2016. Web. 02 July 2016.

Staff, TMZ. “Amber Heard BS I Want To Settle Johnny’s Scared.” TMZ. TMZ, 16 June 2016. Web. 02 July 2016.

Staff, TMZ. “Amber Heard, Johnny Depp It’s Game Off … For Now.” TMZ. TMZ, 16 June 2016. Web. 02 July 2016.

¹Staff, TMZ. “Amber’s Scum to Me Now.” TMZ. TMZ, 02 July 2016. Web. 02 July 2016.

 Celebrity Domestic Violence – Famous Cases

Staff, Radar. “Loathsome Lineup: Check Out These 18 Stars Involved In Domestic Violence Incidents.” Radar Online. Radar Online, 18 Dec. 2015. Web. 02 July 2016.

Readings

Hlavka, Heather R. n.d. “Normalizing Sexual Violence: Young Women Account for Harassment and Abuse.” Gender & Society:1-22.

Bohmke, Werner. “Research Area: Sexuality.” International Journal Of Psychology 47.(2012): 673-686. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 July 2016.

O’Hara, Shannon. “Monsters, Playboys, Virgins and Whores: Rape Myths in the News Media’s Coverage of Sexual Violence.” Language and Literature: Journal of the Poetics and Linguistics Association, vol. 21, 2012.

Miller, Elizabeth. “Sexual and Partner Violence Prevention and Popular Media.” Journal of women’s health (2002), vol. 25, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc, United States, 2016..doi:10.1089/jwh.2015.5654.

Valenti, Jessica. The purity myth: how America’s obsession with virginity is hurting young women, Seal Press, Berkeley, Calif, 2009.

Meah, Angela, Jenny Hockey, and Victoria Robinson. “‘I’M A SEX KITTEN, AREN’T I ..’: Relocating Agency and Pleasure in Older Women’s Narratives about Sex.”Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 26, Taylor & Francis Group, 2011..doi:10.1080/08164649.2010.546328.

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