Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Having Your Picture Taken is Nothing Like Being Raped

By Susan Esther Barnes

According to CNN,Vanity Fair recently interviewed Johnny Depp, who compared having his picture taken to being raped. Below is the quote:

“It is obvious that being photographed all the time hasn't gotten any easier for the actor. ‘You just feel like you’re being raped somehow. Raped. The whole thing. It feels like a kind of weird—just weird, man,’ Depp says of getting his photo snapped. 'Whenever you have a photo shoot or something like that, it’s like —- you just feel dumb. It’s just so stupid.'"

Let me clear this up for you, Johnny, since you’re so gravely misinformed.

Being raped isn’t like standing around in a nice warm room with makeup artists and hairstylists helping you look good while a photographer snaps your picture and tells you how talented you are. It isn’t like being in a place where you can reach for a bottle of water or your cell phone on a whim. When you’re being raped, nobody listens to you when you say, “No, stop, I don’t want to do this.”

It isn’t just weird. It doesn’t just feel dumb or stupid.

Being raped is more like thinking your life if going along like normal, and then suddenly, and without warning, knowing your life is about to be irrevocably changed for the worse. It’s about being thrown onto the cold, unforgiving ground by someone bigger and stronger than you. It’s about there being nobody, nobody at all, who can possibly help you.

Being raped is realizing, for the first time in your life, that you have absolutely no control whatsoever over what is happening to you and your body. It is knowing that no matter what you say or do, you cannot stop what is happening to you. It is about having your clothing and your dignity literally, and I do mean literally, stripped away from you by a complete and utter stranger.

Being raped is painful, mentally and physically. It is, above all else, a brutal act of violence. Being raped is not knowing whether you will live through the next hour. It is not knowing whether you will ever see your family and friends again. It is not knowing whether your dead body might be dumped someplace where nobody will ever find it.

Being raped is knowing, even if you survive, that you may never get over it. It is fearing you may have contracted a deadly disease. It is being scared that you may become pregnant from the seed of this monster who has attacked you. It is suspecting you may never be able to have a normal relationship with a man ever again. It is the complete loss of your ability to ever walk down a street alone again without fear.

Being raped means sitting in a hospital room, feeling violated all over again, as you describe the incident to the doctors and the police. It is spreading your legs to yet another stranger so they can gather evidence from within your body.

It is the beginning of years of struggle, of trying to make sense of how such a thing could have happened to you, of blaming yourself for what was, without a doubt, not your fault. It is about looking into the eyes of others and seeing their pity. It may mean reliving the incident over and over again, for lawyers, and in front of the public for a judge and jury.

Being raped is the end of life as you knew it, and the beginning of a life you never asked for.

So no, Johnny, I’m sorry, being photographed is nothing like being raped. Get over it.


  1. Why do people say such terrible and ignorant things in public? I have more thoughts on his stupid remark but they aren't nice so I will just keep them to myself.

  2. Dear Ms. Barnes-I think that this whole thing is a very unfortunate incident on both sides. It's terrible that Johnny Depp used the expression "rape" to describe his extreme hatred of being photographed. As a woman and close friend of a rape victim (my friend was gangbanged in a Manhattan subway station by 3 men and hurt internally so badly she needed surgery, and i'm telling you this so you will not think me insensitive), I am very well aware of the effects of rape and the after effects as well even 25 years after the event.

    I have an unusual background. I am Jewish. My mother was Jewish (I started to write is and had to change it because she just died in August. My Dad was Jewish too, but with a twist - he was part Native American. Comanche, I believe not that that matters much, but I because I'm part Native American and was taught to be proud of my background (I do wear bear fetishes and other Native American jewelry and have studied about the different tribes and customs), I'm aware that some indigenous peoples do not want to be photographed as they believe that it steals their soul from their body. This is a spiritual belief. I think that Mr, Depp meant to say something along those lines. It's a very different experience for him to be photographed (as himself) as opposed to filmed when he's in character playing a part.

    I believe that that is what he meant to say, though not as eloquently as I just did. Perhaps also having a more unusual background allowed me to step back and understand things from everyone's perspective without so much heat as well.

    I think Mr. Depp is a very fine actor and I've enjoyed watching him in all of the films in which I've seen him. It was an unfortunate comment, but I believe that he meant something along the lines of what I said, and I would not condemn him for being flustered and saying something like he did - after all - if you have a sense spiritually that being photographed is a kind of robbing your soul, then there is a feeling of rape in a sense, not in the full sense of all of the violence and repercussions, but he felt violated and anyone is entitled to feel the way they do.

    G-d made us all as individuals with free will. We are all different creatures and experience things differently.