Johnny Depp supporters are no longer even trying to hide that their attacks on his ex-wife Amber Heard are rooted in misogyny rather than concern for male victims. His supporters have risen up in droves to try to “cancel” the Women’s March after the organization expressed support for Heard and other domestic violence victims in a lengthy thread about men like “Andrew Tate, Johnny Depp, [and] Marilyn Manson” and the rampant online misogyny they’ve perpetuated.
The thread, shared on Tuesday, detailed abuse allegations against Tate, a former pro-boxer, reality show star, and current viral TikTok influencer, including video footage of him beating a woman. The Women’s March also unpacked the onslaught of sexist harassment inspired by Depp’s defamation lawsuit against Heard and the actor’s close friendship with Manson, who’s also been accused of domestic violence. “Sexism & misogyny are the reasons so much of the internet believes Johnny Depp - not his victim, Amber Heard - despite ALL the evidence of his abuse,” the Women’s March account tweeted. “They’re the reasons Depp & his buddy Marilyn Manson’s fans turned to harass Evan Rachel Wood as soon as the Depp trial ended, even though Wood’s abuse at Manson’s hands is well documented too.”
It concluded, “When society sees abused women as conniving bitches rather than victims & survivors, that’s rape culture & misogyny at work. If women with the privilege and resources of Amber Heard & Evan Rachel Wood can’t be believed, there’s not much hope for the rest of us.”
In the days since, the thread has been bombarded with replies accusing the Women’s March of not actually watching the trial and reiterating that “Amber Heard is the abuser,” among other predictable nastiness. As of Thursday, their hashtag #ShutDownWomensMarch continues to trend, as pro-Depp users accuse the organization of being led by “feminazis” and supporting “false allegations against men.” In other words, the response has pretty much been in tune with the messaging Depp’s camp has pushed thus far: that they’re the real supporters of survivors; that Heard and Depp’s relationship was either “mutually abusive” or that she was the sole abuser; and that real feminists support Depp, her “victim.”
“Our tweet thread was about what happens to women when they stand up to abuse and power. The attacks on us for doing so is a live demonstration of what we said,” Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, said in a statement to Jezebel.
The thread comes months after the verdict of the defamation trial came down in Depp’s favor, and still, Depp’s supporters remain motivated as ever to attack anyone who speaks out in support of Heard.
Michele Dauber, a Stanford professor who organized against the judge that sentenced Stanford rapist Brock Turner to only six months in jail and has vocally spoken out against Depp, isn’t surprised by any of this. She’s experienced the brunt of online harassment from Depp supporters herself.
“It is unsurprising that they are now attacking a national women’s rights organization like Women’s March, because their goal is to intimidate survivors from coming forward, and failing that, to intimidate others from supporting survivors,” Dauber told Jezebel. She called on “all feminist organizations to make statements now in support of Amber Heard and demand that Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms stop monetizing the targeted hatred toward survivors that is currently thriving on their products.”
Shauna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of the national feminist organization Ultraviolet, told USA Today that, during the trial, she had faced “an unbelievable amount” of attacks from Depp’s side for her support of Heard. “The actual latent sexism in society that exists was being tapped into and weaponized, and it was being permitted and amplified by social media platforms.” Ultraviolet’s research has found a third of women under the age of 35 and 70% of LGBTQ adults report being harassed online, and 61% of women compared with 48% of men characterize online harassment as a “major problem.”
Last month, a Bot Sentinel report documented the harassment of people who support Heard online. The report found one in five accounts that had used the hashtags #AmberHeardIsAnAbuser, #AmberHeardLsAnAbuser, #AmberHeardIsALiar, and #AmberHeardLsALiar was “dedicated to spamming,” and those who expressed support for Heard “were attacked relentlessly.” The report found that Twitter “didn’t do enough to mitigate the platform manipulation and did very little to stop the abuse and targeted harassment.”
The online attacks didn’t just come from hordes of sexist, online randos: They were fueled by a substantial ad buy from The Daily Caller and significant PR direction from a former Trump communications staffer.
Throughout the trial, Heard and her legal team offered credible evidence that Depp had abused and sexually assaulted her. At the end of July, unsealed court documents confirmed that photos and audio submitted by Depp’s team had been manipulated, and that his attorneys’ initial strategy was to use nude photos of Heard against her. Texts from Depp and his assistant corroborated Heard’s allegation that he’d kicked and beat her in front of his staff on a private plane in 2014; the documents even show Depp had testified that Heard had never harmed him.
Throughout the trial in May, Depp’s legal team won in the court of public opinion by saying Heard’s responses to Depp’s abuse were “mutual abuse,” citing questionable sources on Heard’s mental health to frame her as “crazy,” and implicitly slut-shaming Heard by fixating on an extramarital affair that she denied. The majority male jury ruled in Depp’s favor, calling on Heard to pay $15 million to a man she alleged had nearly killed her.
Since the trial, Depp has been embraced as a men’s rights hero and celebrated for defeating Heard as a stand-in for all lying, scheming women and the Me Too movement writ large. However much his supporters might cling to the lie that they actually support survivors by standing with a male “victim” like Depp, the attacks on the Women’s March speak for themselves: Theirs has always been a reactionary, fundamentally anti-feminist movement. The mask is fully off.