Each progressive impulse produces its reaction. The latest is projected in the wave of criticism leveled at actress Amber Heard for the sentence issued against her forcing her to pay her ex-husband — also actor Johnny Depp — 15 million dollars in compensation. The ruling reached by the seven members of the jury – five men and two women – considers the three statements of the actress and only one of the actor’s lawyer defamatory, and does not give credibility to Heard’s testimony about alleged mistreatment denounced by her.
Beyond the scrupulous respect for the court’s ruling, the revealing thing about the trial is the explosion of hatred against the actress -especially on networks- that reveals another hidden trial that goes beyond the two celebrities: a furious attack against the MeToo movement at a particularly regressive moment for the rights and freedoms of women. The harassment in networks against female voices that reach public notoriety is not new —the writer Mary Beard has linked it to the structural lack of power that women suffer—, but the humiliation to which Amber Heard is being subjected is only explained as an object of a reaction against the MeToo movement.
The sentence against the actress is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of respecting judicial decisions because they guarantee the defense of the presumption of innocence and a fair trial for those accused of sexual assault. At a time of democratic recession that questions the basic rules of the rule of law, this is even more important, if possible. But it is not incompatible with something that should be remembered, and that is that one of the fundamental flaws of the system that MeToo showed was the frequency with which women and other complainants of sexual abuse did not find an impartial hearing through the institutions. This was expressed by the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood, highlighting the way in which MeToo managed to denounce an omnipresent injustice in society that was built on the silence of those who suffered from it. Only by breaking down this culture of concealment was it possible to become aware of the problem: in our liberal societies, one in four women will suffer a sexual attack that can end in rape throughout her life.
This reality is not science fiction. It is a factual truth as real as the sentence against Heard. In addition to the old digital anti-feminism, the virulent reaction against Heard for a sentence that no one questions shows what is really at stake: the instrumentalization of a sentence as a revulsive against everything that MeToo represented, its fight against hate speech , misogyny and the decline in freedoms for women.