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How Johnny Depp And Amber Heard’s Relationship Epitomizes Our Culture’s Sexual Dysfunction

Men and women are not in competition with each other, and toxic masculinity isn’t magically redeemed when women do it.


In his ongoing libel lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard, Johnny Depp testified that he was the victim of domestic abuse and challenged Heard’s published insinuation that he was abusive. According to Depp, she would berate and throw objects at him while he would “remove himself from their arguments by leaving the room or locking himself in the bathroom.”

Without taking a side on this issue — since there’s no way to know who’s telling the truth — it’s worth noting Depp’s account would have seemed ridiculous only a decade ago. Here is one of Hollywood’s most famous actors complaining about being abused by a woman 23 years younger than him. How could he be so weak and she so strong?

Far from idle gossip, the answer to this question reveals some important trends that have been influencing the two sexes for some time now. Due to the propaganda of modern feminism and the corrosive decadence of modern culture, women as a whole have come to dominate and abuse men, while men as a group have become helpless victims mired in mediocrity. 

Freeing Men to Become Children

A key to understanding this troubling development is the famous quote from Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is said by Uncle Ben (or Aunt May, depending on the movie) to the callow teenager Peter Parker, who later internalizes this lesson as the superhero Spider-Man. 

The advice isn’t a statement on the ethics of being a superhero, but about becoming a man. As a young man on the brink of independent adulthood, Peter will soon have the great powers of masculine strength that will enable him to work, study, and build as well as defend those close to him. He needs to be responsible with this power, serving others and being creative instead of the opposite.

Unfortunately, this idea of matching masculine power to great responsibility is an alien notion to most men today, who lack both power and responsibility. Rather, based on their reluctance to compete, lead, or even ask a girl out, the majority of young men today can be fairly characterized as weak and irresponsible. 

There are many reasons for this decline in men, but the main ones are usually a lack of role models, screen addiction (usually video games), and pornography. More and more boys grow up in fatherless households, and their schools and entertainment largely lack virtuous adult males who can serve as guides. Thus, they never learn about the great power of disciplined masculinity and end up wasting their energies on virtual adventures and virtual sex. 

Empowering Women to Become Bullies

On the flip side, Uncle Ben’s quote would apply quite well to most women today, who are very much empowered — although curiously sadder — than ever before. They are graduating from college in greater numbers, working more, and taking on more positions of authority. Moreover, more women are becoming the leaders of their households, being both breadwinner and caretaker.

What’s missing, however, is the “great responsibility” that comes with this newfound power. While great at encouraging and inspiring girls to pursue excellence and achievement, modern feminist messaging often falls short in combining this message with supporting and having compassion for others. It’s mean-spirited and resentful. All too often, female empowerment and liberation become synonymous with bullying and selfishness

When this feminist narrative is multiplied a million times and reinforced with emasculated schools and households, what results is an unhealthy imbalance between men and women that violates the nature of both sexes. “Empowered” women actively dominate passive men who never make it past adolescence. 

Today, because of these divergent trajectories of men and women, a wife abusing her husband is entirely possible and happens often. For all his wealth and sex appeal, Depp is decidedly not manly: he’s vain, not especially intelligent, and suffers from periodic drug addictions. And on some level, his decision to marry a woman so much younger than him suggests poor judgment and insecurity. 

One could easily imagine Heard being disillusioned and frustrated with her husband and lashing out against him. Here she was expecting him to take the lead, but instead it appears to have been the reverse. Perhaps women in the past would accept this and build up their husbands to take charge and be more manly. However, most women today would do what Heard did: divorce the loser and extract as much from him as the law allows.

It’s Not Just Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Whether it was really Depp who abused Heard or Heard who abused Depp, neither changes the fact that the children Depp brought into their marriage likely suffered the most. Their parents were in no shape to take care of them, and at least one of them is an abuser.

What makes this story so tragic is that this kind of dysfunction is playing out everywhere. Weak men and aggressive women are failing one another and their children. It’s no wonder that few of them want to marry and have children in the first place.

Solving this problem will require a culture-wide shift in understanding the sexes, ultimately recognizing them as separate, unique, and complementary. Men and women are not in competition with each other, and toxic masculinity isn’t magically redeemed when women do it. Rather, men need to be virtuous men and women need to be virtuous women, both seeking to serve one another and build something beautiful together.

In other words, both men and women need live out the wisdom of Uncle Ben, coupling their great power with great responsibility and vice versa. If they do this, they can be like Peter Parker, and can become heroes of their own stories. If they don’t, they are more likely to become like Johnny Depp and become victims of a destructive and humiliating relationship.