The World vs Women: Hard Hitting Truths About the Men you Love
Photographed by Joelle Beauchamp of Skylar Medes, Cat Thompson, Aviona Collins, Marshall Dennis, and Dylan Clifford
Styled by Charlize Wright
Directed by Cami Watkins
Hair and Makeup by Kristina Wise
Stylist Assist: Jhovany Rodriguez
Photography Assist: Arylon Wilks
By Cassidy Marshall and Chase Owens
TRIGGER WARNING: This piece contains graphic elements related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and trauma. Read at your own discretion.
‘Let’s drown her before we burn her!!!’
‘Hopefully [her] rotting corpse is decomposing…in the trunk of a Honda Civic!!’
-Johnny Depp’s text messages regarding Amber Heard.
Note: These messages were edited for profanity because the original messages were far too graphic to be published. Everything else has been quoted verbatim.
There are the men that we know and love in the entertainment industry, and there are the ones we know well enough to know that they are dangerous, predatory, and violent. And we love them too. So much so, in fact, that for many of us, there is no amount of evidence, legal precedent, or first-hand experience that can pull us away from their orbit. At the end of the day, no one wants to believe that the man they have looked up to, lusted after, praised, or trusted, is actually a violent sexual predator, so they perform mental gymnastics in search of a workaround that somehow proves that they are not the monster that we know them to be. Even at the highest of class status and societal privilege, women are repeatedly eviscerated by the public when they attempt to bring their experiences with these predators to light. If even the richest, whitest women with squeaky clean records are unable to come forward without seeing support, what of the women who are underprivileged in this world? Who is there to help any of us?
Evan Rachel Wood was nineteen when Marilyn Manson began to pursue her (he was thirty six at the time). Later on, after their relationship had long since ended and Wood began detailing his abuse of her to the public, Wood cited how intently the public turned on her, the nineteen year old being taken advantage of by an adult man: ‘People were cruel. You build immunity to that sort of thing, but I wasn’t used to negative feedback, so it got to me. Then I got angry, and pushed away even more.’ (Nardino, 2023). Wood went on to state that ‘people are wondering why more women didn’t come forward sooner, and why, in a lot of these cases, one woman will come out or multiple women will come out and then the floodgates will open…They do not feel safe enough to do so, period.’ (Nardino, 2023).
Wood later detailed the grooming and abuse she suffered at the hands of Manson during their relationship, prompting four other women to come forward with allegations of their own (Nardino, 2023).
More recently, Manson was gutted in court during an attempt to sue Wood for defamation over her allegations of abuse, sexual assault, and grooming. For Manson, this hit a little too close to home; his close friend and supporter, Johnny Depp, was recently involved in a similar court case. Following Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard’s allegations of abuse against him, the internet was closely embroiled in the facts, and fictions, of their high-profile defamation trial. Both successful actors with extensive filmographies, their marriage and subsequent divorce was highly publicized and manipulated by the media. Particular attention was paid to their relationship after Heard’s op-ed published in the Washington Post in 2018 where she stated that she was a ‘public figure representing domestic abuse’; shortly after Heard came forward with allegations, Fairfax County Court in the United Kingdom ruled Depp had committed acts of domestic violence against Heard on twelve separate occasions, of the fourteen that were alleged in the case (John C. Depp, II v. Amber Laura Heard, 2021). By this time, a separate libel case had already been settled against Depp, upholding News Group Newspapers’ right to label Depp a ‘wife beater’ in their publications (Holden, 2020). In America, however, the media was both heavily involved in Depp’s defamation trial against Heard, and heavily manipulated; Depp won the trial long before the verdict was delivered, thanks to a well-paid PR team that had admitted numerous times to their manipulation of the trial (Dunn, 2023).
The way that the public treated Heard as she battled her abuser in court is emblematic of a far larger issue with misogyny in America. As stated at the beginning of the piece, if even women like Amber Heard who are white, wealthy, and highly successful in their industry are treated this way when coming forward about their trauma, what victim sees any sympathy? The most privileged among us are eviscerated in the public eye when coming forward; how can any of us feel safe doing so?
Beyond this, misogyny is so advanced and formulaic that there are even subsets within itself; one example is misogynoir, which discusses how Black women in particular are targeted by sexism in a deeper way than their white counterparts. Never has this concept been proven truer than Megan Thee Stallion’s case against Tory Lanez. In August of 2020, rapper Megan Thee Stallion accused fellow musician Tory Lanez of firing a gun into her foot at a pool party in July of 2020 (Bekiempis and Haylock, 2023). Initially, Megan did not come forward with truth about what happened, choosing instead to say that she cut herself on a piece of glass; taking into consideration what we have discussed thus far about how we treat the victims who do come forward, is it any wonder Megan was afraid to at the beginning? When she came forward with the truth about a month later, it led to a trial that lasted nine months and resulted in Lanez being sentenced to ten years in federal prison (Bekiempis and Haylock, 2023). Throughout the duration of the trial, the media turned on Megan, accusing her of being a liar and backing Lanez without even the semblance of evidence against Megan. Lanez’s peers added fuel to the fire and turned prominent males in the industry against her; known misogynist Drake spoke on Megan in his 2022 album, Her Loss, accusing Megan of lying about being shot. Following Lanez’s conviction, fans continued to spout ‘Free Tory’ and blame Megan for the ‘pain’ she had caused to Lanez. The public expected Megan to apologize to her abuser for his abuse against her.
And why not, right? To the public, we do not view abuse as a bad or wrong thing anymore, it has become so normalized that we take it in as something of a personality trait. Even the women around us, all of whom are victims of misogyny themselves, have been manipulated so thoroughly and completely that they join the ranks of the men who want nothing more than to suppress them. At every level, no matter how successful or privileged we are, we are surrounded by predators, and the worst part is that they have successfully indoctrinated so many of us into their predation.
Adrien Brody forced himself upon Halle Berry on National Television. He openly defended Roman Polanski and Woody Allen amongst allegations of pedophilia, calling it ‘not something to focus on’ (Parker, 2016). Russell Brand has been accused of violent sexual assault and rape by multiple women, at least one of whom was sixteen at the time (Marshall, 2023). Rob Lowe built a career off of a sex tape he made with a sixteen year old when he was twenty three (Stone, 2019). Ben Affleck has been accused of groping several women on set throughout his career (Leight, 2017). And the list goes on.
All of these men are A-Listers with booming careers and endless opportunities awaiting them. Amber Heard had to fight to get back on set to reprise a role that she brought in millions with. Megan Thee Stallion faces an industry ripe with men who blame her for being shot by their own abusive peer. Our ceiling becomes their floor. They only rise higher the worse that they treat us.