Update: this post is getting a lot of attention because of Johnny Depp’s name in the title. At the time, we only knew of him as being accused of domestic assault and poor career choices. While we now have evidence he’s a messed up man and this article shows him as bitter and vindictive, I stand by my premise in this article: unless we are personally involved in these cases, we will never have enough information to make fair judgements and we have no right to that information. We have to be careful with our armchair judgements.
Did you hear? JK Rowling is enabling an abuser!
Earlier this week, our favorite author released a statement supporting Johnny Depp as Grindelwald. There has been a LOT of backlash over the casting since he was found guilty of assaulting his former partner, Amber Heard.
Jo responded to the demands to drop Johnny Depp from the second Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film by saying we don’t know all the details and that we need to trust her and director, David Yates, that Johnny Depp is the right person for the role.
Johnny Depp has been caught up in the much needed #MeToo movement which has empowered women to finally speak up against assaults and abuse that have been the everyday behavior. I say caught up because Jo’s right: we don’t know all the details of the assault, and we have no right to know all the details. I feel that each time we demand details we’re putting Amber Heard through her pain again. Can we please accept that he’s been punished and it’s time to trust Jo?
That sounds like I’m dismissing sexual assault and abuse, but that’s far from the truth. I nearly deleted this post half-way through because I wasn’t sure how I could separate what I see as two issues: playing armchair judge and systematic sexual abuse. Being upset at Johnny Depp playing Grindelwald is being an armchair judge. Let’s discuss the #MeToo movement and systematic sexual abuse/assault/misconduct.
Innocent people will be accused of abuse. People will be overly penalized for previous deeds. It’s unfortunate but needed. Last year I was in a conversation where most of the group were shocked by the sexual abuse women receive in casual everyday encounters. I was impressed that none of the people there would consider even wolf whistling a woman. I always assume that all women and many men have been assaulted at some stage. When the #MeToo movement was starting, and Harvey Weinstein’s accusers (it hasn’t gone to court yet) were just coming out, a friend asked me to share my experiences. I told her that not enough people had died yet. I also can’t identify the perpetrators from some of the earlier instances. I don’t know the group of V/Line (Australian train service) employees who thought it a compliment to catcall a tween (I don’t recall how old I was, but I moved from that area when I was mid-teens). I don’t know what the man looks like who groped me in a crowd. I wouldn’t have been more than 14. I just moved to a different space and didn’t tell anyone. That was just life.
Research also shows that people define abuse differently. I was disgusted by the first situation and mentioned it to my father (they were his colleagues, but it’s a large organization). He laughed. Women over the age of 50 are also more likely to not see it as abuse. It’s an everyday occurrence. They survived, why should people complain? I don’t share that attitude. A more severe situation occurred when I was 18. I felt it was his right to do what he wanted because I was his girlfriend. That’s what I was taught in the smallish towns where I grew up.
I’m glad I learned differently. I’m also proud of the women (and girls) who know different and are brave enough to speak up. I’m also proud of the men and boys who are speaking up. While there’s a gender slant towards men being the perpetrators, both genders can and do commit sexual assault, and I don’t want that to get lost. We need to stop all of it.
We haven’t reached a common definition of sexual assault. We’re also using the term misconduct, which to me, trivializes the situation. We will come to an understanding, but we needed this swing to perhaps over-accusing to find the equilibrium. We can’t be imposing lifetime penalties on people for one-off situations. But we also can’t allow the serial perpetrators to continue. Especially the men like Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump who consider abuse to be their right because they have always been able to.
A final note I want to say is the need to show respect to the victims, even if you were taught that behavior isn’t bad or they should just put up with it. I recall an older TED Talk where the speaker said there are no degrees of hard, it’s just hard, and we need to do the same with abuse. It’s all a violation. Let’s support the victims, help them recover and ensure it never happens to anyone again. It’s not hard.
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