“Amber Heard ‘suffered through years of physical and psychological abuse’ by Johnny Depp, lawyers say” is a Washington Post article in which Ms. Heard is characterized as “a brave and financially independent woman” who is besieged because the defendant whom she sued has a “relentless army of lawyers.”
Although the only thing sought by her original lawsuit (previous posting includes a link to the Petition) is money (property division, alimony, and attorney’s fees), “none of [the plaintiff’s] actions are motivated by money.” (Amber Heard is also seeking to be divorced, of course, but California is a no-fault state (offering what scholars call “unilateral divorce”) so she is 100-percent guaranteed to win that part of her lawsuit.)
The assertion of bravery would seem to merit some examination. Though married for just one year, the headline writers at the Post apparently thought it credible that she “suffered through years of physical and psychological abuse.” Was it brave for her to marry an older person with money? (“One thing that you learn pretty quickly from listening to plaintiffs in Family Court,” said one of the lawyers that we interviewed, “is that 100 percent of rich white guys are abusers.”; see the Domestic Violence Parallel Track) Given that she now says that she was abused for years prior to the marriage, was it brave for her to proceed with the marriage, thus nobly sacrificing herself to spare other women from being beaten by this guy worth $400 million?
What about the “financially independent” angle? If she wins all of her lawsuit claims she will be living in a house that someone else paid for, receiving investment fund statements regarding money that had been earned by someone else, and, via alimony, become a man’s court-ordered lifelong adult dependent. The Feminism section of the Rationale chapter, may shed some light on this characterization:
Legislators and attorneys told us that women’s groups and people identifying themselves as “feminists” were proponents of laws favoring the award of sole custody of children to mothers and more profitable child support guidelines. Is that a recognizably feminist goal? For a woman to be at home with children living off a man’s income? Here’s how one attorney summarized 50 years of feminist progress: “In the 1960s a father might tell a daughter ‘Get pregnant with a rich guy and then marry him’ while in the 2010s a mother might tell a daughter ‘Get pregnant with a rich guy and then collect child support.'” Why is that superior from the perspective of feminism? A professor of English at Harvard said “Because the woman collecting child support is not subject to the power and control of the man.”
In other words, in Feminist terms she will be “financially independent” because she won’t have to do anything for a man in order to stay in the check-of-the-month club and no man will have any control over how she spends the money that she gets from one or more men.
Generally I don’t think that celebrity divorces are very interesting. There aren’t that many movie stars with whom a person can have profitable sex. Using American family law to tap into the earning power of a financial industry executive or a physician is a much more realistic goal for a typical resident of or visitor to the U.S. But the Amber Heard lawsuit seems to be an interesting part of the Zeitgeist.