A male member of the jury that deemed Amber Heard guilty of defaming her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, denied her recent suggestion that the jury had been influenced by the aggressive social media campaign against her. In a Thursday interview with Good Morning America, he inadvertently revealed that his decision was actually just influenced by his own misogyny.
“The crying, the facial expressions that she had, the staring at the jury—all of us were very uncomfortable,” the juror, who was one of five male jurors on the seven-member panel, told GMA. “She would answer one question and she would be crying and then two seconds later she would turn ice cold… Some of us used the expression ‘crocodile tears.’”
In other words, because Heard couldn’t meet this individual man’s precise threshold of what constitutes an appropriate emotional display, she was lying.
“A lot of the jury felt what [Depp] was saying, at the end of the day, was more believable,” the male juror told GMA. “He just seemed a little more real in terms of how he was responding to questions. His emotional state was very stable throughout.”
Jurors being influenced by their own gendered biases isn’t exactly unheard of. Both male and female jurors sometimes hyper-scrutinize female witnesses and defendants—because people of all genders are socialized to reproduce sexist biases.
This juror, who apparently considers himself an authority figure on the emotional complexities of intimate partner violence, added, “Ultimately what I think is truthful was that they were both abusive to each other. I don’t think that makes either of them right or wrong.”
The term “mutual abuse” is rooted in victim-blaming, falsely equating victims’ reactions to abuse with abuse. “Sometimes victims respond with violence, or even encourage the violence so they can get it over with, knowing that it’s going to happen,” Ruth Glenn, president of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told Jezebel in May. “It’s so complex, and that term, ‘mutual abuse,’ is very harmful.”
The term “does not work when we’re talking about domestic violence,” she added, because “there is always someone who is the primary aggressor.”
More than that, accepting the idea of “mutual abuse” often puts victims in jail. When abuse escalates to a point where victims respond with violent resistance or self-defense, they’re often arrested or threatened with arrest when law enforcement gets involved. A 2015 survey found that that was the experience of nearly 25% of women who called the police to report intimate partner violence.
The juror also cited Heard’s confusing claim about donating her $7 million divorce settlement as one of the reasons the jury didn’t find her credible. Even if her description of the donation was deceptive, that’s beside the point. Heard should not have to be perfect to avoid being torn apart and dehumanized on top of the abuse her ex-husband had already allegedly subjected her to. (A British court ruled in November 2020 that he had indeed beat her.)
The evidence Heard provided to demonstrate that she had been physically and emotionally harmed by Depp—witness accounts, photos of injuries, text messages, threatening audio—is significantly more than what the vast majority of victims could even dream of providing, short of wearing a body camera at all times. But in the GMA interview, the juror said it wasn’t “enough or any evidence” for him.
His admission shows that there’s no possible threshold of evidence that a victim can provide and be believed. The outcome of sexual and domestic violence cases simply comes down to how courts of law and public opinion appraise credibility: in an inherently misogynist way.