Finally - Feminist Groups Release a Letter in Support of Amber Heard
Meanwhile, Lily-Rose Depp defends her silence on the Heard v. Depp trial
When the controversial Amber Heard v. Johnny Depp defamation trial went on air, it quickly became a public spectacle. Heard was found guilty of ruining Depp’s career though her 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which Heard identified herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Depp was awarded $15 million in damages and an unbelievable career comeback — the stuff of Hollywood dreams — a spot in the Fenty Fashion Show.
Meanwhile, Heard was publicly humiliated and endlessly memed by social media and on TikTok. She posted a statement after the verdict warning against the impact her own trial could have on other women.
But now — months later — a consortium of feminist organizations and prominent feminist individuals have penned a letter in support.
“The vilification of Ms. Heard and ongoing online harassment of her and those who have voiced support for her have been unprecedented in both vitriol and scale. Much of this harassment was fueled by disinformation, misogyny, biphobia, and a monetized social media environment where a woman’s allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment,” the letter reads.
The letter was posted on AmberOpenLetter.com. It calls for any other supporters to sign the letter. Prominent figures like Gloria Steinem, over two dozen feminist organizations, as well as over 90 domestic violence experts and survivors’ advocates from around the world, and signed the letter.
The goal of the letter isn’t merely to vindicate Heard, but it’s a letter of support for all victims of domestic abuse who feel silenced. And now more than ever may feel like they’ll be punished for speaking out.
“In our opinion, the Depp v. Heard verdict and continued discourse around it indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of intimate partner and sexual violence and how survivors respond to it. The damaging consequences of the spread of this misinformation are incalculable. We have grave concerns about the rising misuse of defamation suits to threaten and silence survivors.”
But why did it take so long for this public support?
An anonymous spokesperson for the group behind the letter told NBC News that after the Heard v. Depp trial “individuals were afraid to speak out because they saw what was happening to the few who had.” The spokesperson was another victim of this harrassment. Hence, the anonymity of the letter.
Kathy Spillar, the executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation, told NBC News her organization signed the letter after it observed what she called a “growing backlash” against women who speak out against perpetrators of sexual assault, domestic violence and intimate partner violence. “If this can happen to Amber Heard, it will discourage other women from speaking up and even filing reports about domestic violence and sexual assault,” Spillar said.
Heard supporters were not the only ones who were persecuted. Depp’s 23-year-old daughter — actress Lily-Rose Depp — recently spoke out in a November Elle cover story and all the hate messages she received.
Depp fans aggressively called on Lily to support her father. However, she remained silent during the trial. “When it’s something that’s so private and so personal that all of a sudden becomes not so personal,” she told Elle. “I feel really entitled to my secret garden of thoughts … I also think that I’m not here to answer for anybody, and I feel like for a lot of my career, people have really wanted to define me by the men in my life, whether that’s my family members or my boyfriends, whatever.”
"I’m not here to give myself to the world to be eaten alive," a sentiment shared by many of the women implicated in the trial. Focused on her own career and stepping out of her parents’ shadow, Lily-Rose said, “I’m really ready to be defined for the things that I put out there.”