Angelina Jolie revealed today that she underwent a double mascetomy, after learning she carries a variation of the gene – BRCA1 – that pre-disposes her for breast and ovarian cancers. In her candid op-ed piece, she writes;
“On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.
But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.
I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.
It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”
Still despite her bravery, it didn’t take long for the sexism to come calling.
“RIP boobs ” stated one guy on my twitter feed, apparently more concerned with the fact that after the procedure she would be more difficult to masturbate to than Jolie’s risk of developing cancer decreasing significantly.
Obviously the fact that the glorious rack she once held is gone is the real tragedy of the situation. When challenged, another guy backed him up, making the point that she had sexualised herself in film roles in the past… therefore presumably she has resigned her body to being public property, always fair game for objectification.
Similarly unenlightened responses floating around the internet include;
Where are these guys hiding, and do they have girlfriends? Because if not, seriously snap me up, you sound like just the kind of people I’d like to take home to mother.
It took real courage for Jolie to go through this procedure, not to mention to write about it. As a public figure and yes, as a sex symbol to many, it is admirable that she has openly spoken about the realities of her body so candidly in the hope that she might help other women.
It’s a shame that we can’t all see it in the same way.