Yesterday, Angelina Jolie published this incredibly thoughtful, deeply personal op-ed piece in the New York Times, disclosing her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy. The actress carries the BRCA1 gene, aka the cancer gene, which dramatically increases a woman’s chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer. Doctors pegged Jolie’s pre-surge risk at 87 per cent — a scary stat indeed for a mother of six who lost her own mother to breast cancer.
For the most part, people have been calling Jolie’s choice — and remember this word — brave. And it is. And it’s brave when ANY woman makes the decision to go under the knife. A woman’s relationship to her breasts has been made complicated, bound up in issues of beauty, self-esteem, femininity, maternity. It’s easy to fear you’ll become ‘less of a woman’ when you cut off your mams because we live in a society that has not only hyper-sexualized breasts but also views women in fractions, not wholes. We’re just walking Picassos of tits, asses, thighs, stomachs and lips, ladiez.
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That’s especially true of Jolie who, as an actress, lives in a body that is treated and discussed as public domain. This is a woman, remember, whose right leg briefly had its own Twitter account. For every person who has heralded Jolie’s choice as brave — you know, like a decent human being — there are a pack of doods who think her boobz exist for solely for their lecherous gaze. Speaking of Twitter, it was rife with such delightfully misogynistic bon mots as “Nutts about #angelinajolie having to cut her tits off what a waste of a banging set of boobies” and, oh my God, I can’t even, “R.I.P. Angelina’s boobs. You had options dummy!”
YUP! By all means, let’s ridicule Angelina for wanting to BE THERE FOR HER KIDS and, I don’t know, VALUING HER OWN LIFE OVER HER BEAUTY. Like, you bros all know that Jolie isn’t ACTUALLY Lara Croft — that bastion of cartoon sexuality — right? That she’s actually, like, a HUMAN BEING?
This gross reaction calls to mind the also very gross Save the Boobies breast-cancer awareness campaigns that pop up every October on those cheap, pink, plastic bracelets that are probs made from cancer-causing agents.
Let’s really break that phrase down. Save the Boobies? SAVE THE BOOBIES. Are you KIDDING me? What about saving the living, breathing, WOMEN attached to them? You know, YOUR mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. (Insert line-face emoticon.)
In other enraging news, Disney is attempting to Disnify my homegirl Merida from Brave — the spunky, fiercely independent anti-Princess with the frizzy red hair. (HEARTWARMING ANECDOTE: At the screening I attended, a little red headed girl who went into the theatre with curls tightly bound in a French braid was shaking her lion’s mane loose by movie’s end.) Express your displeasure by heading here.
Jen Zoratti is a freelance music journo and a Spectator Tribute columnist. Follow her on Twitter @JenZoratti and look for SCREAMINGINALLCAPS.com, arriving to the Internetz in early June.