Note to Misogynists: Angelina Jolie's Preventative Mastectomy Is Not Your BusinessGina Vaynshteyn

A few days ago, Angelia Jolie revealed that she had undergone a double mastectomy after finding out she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer due to a faulty BRCA1 gene. Angelina’s mother died of breast cancer at the awfully young age of 56, so the actress fully understands what it’s like to have someone you love taken away from you. She went through this painful and arduous process of having her breasts removed so she wouldn’t have to go through radiation and chemo. She went through this for her kids. Her husband. Her self. It was later revealed that she will also have her ovaries removed in another procedure.

Per usual, there’s a special segment of the world that feels like it’s appropriate to express their sexist and misogynistic feelings via the Internet. Assholes of the world are whooping and howling in the name of Angelina’s breasts, and it’s a shame, because this shows how some people only value women based on their bodies. To reduce Angelina Jolie to just her breasts is sickening, because it means our society will forever prioritize body image over the important things: family, sacrifice, bravery and character. Why should a woman be identified by a body part?

Men aren’t the only ones out there who are ridiculing Angelina; there are women who are now insinuating that they can now take Angelina’s place because they have breasts and she doesn’t. Please, girlfriends. Don’t even.

Not only is breast cancer a serious, life-threatening disease, it is completely life-altering. So many women feel as though their femininity, sex appeal and beauty is being ripped away from them; it’s psychologically damaging and heart-wrenching. So when Angelina had her breasts preventatively removed because she feared she would develop cancer, she made a choice. A brave one. She parted with her breasts for her children, husband and life. Her actions should be celebrated, not mocked. She shared her story to inspire women, to promote awareness of a deadly and common disease, not to encourage derogatory, immature and disgusting backlash.

It’s not funny to joke around about Brad now having to “f**k his kids’ nanny.” It’s not funny to tweet: “In other news, Angelina Jolie killed her breasts and the boners of millions of men today,” because it wasn’t her JOB to give men boners; she doesn’t owe anyone her breasts. It’s not funny to “feel sorry” for “poor” Brad. Brad is a lucky man. He’s lucky to be with a woman so courageous and beautiful inside and out.

Featured image via ShutterStock

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  1. Hi all, I think this is a really interesting topic. However what I find slightly annoying about this is that she has as far as I’m aware also had reconstructive surgery since the event. don’t get me wrong I too would opt for a reconstrustion if I were in a similar situation. Angelina is brave for speaking out on this. But she has also got the money to get a reconstruction from the best surgeons about. This will recreate her previous shape and will just be the same as a boob job. A member of my family here in UK had a masectomy and a bodged reconstruction on the NHS. She should also be speaking out about how lucky she is to have the money to have these tests and surgeries, while others find out before it’s too late and are stuck with it without any real choice.

  2. To be honest though, she made her living off her body. The majority of her roles were just to run around looking sexy. She is a fabulous actress and I really do find her to be an interesting person but her boobs were important to her career. Yes, it is horrible that people still see women as body parts but she made her money off of her body.
    And, MORE POWER TO HER!! I am glad she did what she needed to do for her self, her man, and her kids. I wish people wouldn’t see this as a big deal so insurance companies would start paying for the procedure. If I knew that my boobs had a very large chance of trying to kill me, I would have mine removed as well. I wish people didn’t see medical procedures like this as a big deal.

  3. Someone told me about this the other day, and they said, “Can you BELIEVE IT?! I mean, she had her BREASTS cut off, basically. Oh my god!” I looked them dead in the eye and said, “So? Who gives a sh**? She was paring her chances of getting breast cancer. Her mother died from the disease and it runs in her family. If you ask me, she did the best possible thing for herself.” They looked back at me, slack-jawed, and said quietly, “…I didn’t know that. I guess she’s not so crazy after all.”

    It seems misogyny AND ignorance have played a huge role in this whole media firestorm over Angelina Jolie’s breasts. Christ.

  4. Thank you for this. I agree completely. One page I USED to like actually criticized her because she hadn’t considered a holistic approach by using cannabis oil….seriously!

  5. The chances of surviving cancer are greater now than they ever were before. I, for one, worry less. There are a lot of other things that could kill me. Being assured about one does´nt save me from the other.

  6. I never liked Angelina, but i still feel sorry for her for having to do such a thing and i think she’s very brave and selfless. i read some comments of girls from “team Aniston” and they’re disgusting. i don’t understand how can you hate a person you don’t even know. it’s fine if you don’t like her acting or movies but geesh, they are really mean…

  7. I sort of agree with Richard Starr about how it was clearly a calculated choice. But he’s missing some information on why she did it. She has a gene that makes her 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer and 10 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer. So hopefully, it will do her some good. Otherwise I agree. It might not technically be our business, because our culture is very private, or tries to be, but Angelina DID put it out there. She DID want us to know about it. So although its still unfair that people are making silly comments that the author hates, it is also silly to be mad that they’re happening. I’m sure she was well prepared having been in the public eye for so long and she won’t let it affect her. I only hope, that since she is so popular that people won’t get the wrong idea that such an extreme measure is the right choice for them in combating cancer risk. I hope she mentions the gene more and how rare it is to have.

  8. Paradox article. Like the title says: It’s not our business. This includes the consequence of spreading it via the media.

  9. I’m not sure that the comments were misogynistic so much as, well, lame
    attempts at jokes.

    1) She did kind of make it everyone’s business when she announced it to
    the world. I’m sure her motives to announce it were well intended.

    2) She is not exactly an ordinary woman. She is a talented Academy Award
    winning Actress, but she also has used her appearance, and yes, her breasts
    to make money too. If she were unattractive she would have had the
    opportunities she had. Likewise, her physical form has been used to help
    her and other’s make money. When her form is changed, it potentially impacts
    her and other’s ability to make that money. She appears to look pretty much
    the same to me, so she obviously managed to have reconstructive surgery to
    minimize that impact. Other women may not have that option due to the costs
    involved. So you are wrong here when you say it was not her job. Actually,
    it is partially her job to attract men/women so that they will see her movies
    many of which are not that good and would not have been green lit if not for
    the fact they knew people would come just because this particularly attractive
    woman was staring in it.

    That said, the jokes were still lame, but then again, so are most of the jokes
    on most subjects. Just like most music is mediocre at best. Getting outraged
    seems to be a bit of an overreaction.

    I don’t know how “brave” the choice is so much as it is a calculated one.
    She is young and healthy and making a choice like this to reduce the odds
    at this time is one that makes sense to her. Brave to me is the woman that
    chooses to put off surgery while pregnant, risking her own life because she
    wants the child to live. Now it might have been somewhat brave to make
    this public, if she felt it would reduce her ability to make money and if she
    thought it might do some good.

    I’m not really sure how it helps though.
    Getting tested to detect problems early seems to be a good idea.
    Destroying a part of your body because you fear that it might possibly
    get cancer and do not want to risk it not be detected … not so much.

    Not that I think that this is a “bad” choice, just that it is not exactly “noble”
    either. I don’t think they should be “mocked” and I don’t think they should
    be “celebrated” either. It’s her choice and lucky for her she has the resources to make it happen.

    As to being “beautiful” inside and out. *shrug*
    She’s attractive, or at least the camera loves her, but she is also a hypocrite
    for what she did to Jennifer Aniston, while at the same time condemning her
    father for cheating on her mother. She does a lot fund raising and I hope the
    money is well used to help others. She also uses that fund raising to keep
    her in the public eye and I’m sure it does not hurt her in getting roles for
    which she is very well compensated for.

  10. Oh yeah, and like she won’t have some fakes put in their place? Boy she’s so courageous.

    • This is a really ignorant reply. Do some research into what reconstructive surgery constitutes and what the end results are like, then see if your statement still holds. Don’t deny the woman the pain and emotional adjustments of losing her breasts.

  11. Well aren’t you just a tad oversensitive. Her mastectomy is everyone’s business, or at least intended to be, or else she wouldn’t have gone public with it. Your logic is flawed. If you don’t like what people have to say about it, you don’t have to listen to it. I love Angelina, but you’re a whiny little bag of hot air. Now stop yapping and make me a sandwich.

  12. factual error: her mother died of ovarian cancer, not breast cancer. Not pointing that out to be a douche or anything, just trying to help :)

  13. Spare the righteous indignation, a few tweets(i counted 11) by some asshats do not require a response. reactions to her announcement was very positive and allowed more people to ask questions that may benefit their health, articles like this just give a platform to a few ignorant people that would not have had any publicity if you hadn’t talked about them. newsflash, they will always exist, just stop talking about them so often and focus on what has been gained.

  14. By writing this article, you’re feeding the trolls, giving them the validation they’re looking for.

  15. Once she went public with the news, it’s everyones business. She made her decision out of self preservation and fear. She greatly reduced her risk of illness (of that particular nature) but that doesn’t mean she’s not at risk for other kinds of cancers or disease that may have a genetic factor. Much that has been commented on about what the percentages mean exactly are well said and I won’t comment on those.

    Self preservation is a natural instinct, hard coded into human biology. I personally don’t equate that to being “strong” or “brave”. It’s what allows us to survive, strive and live our lives in the constant peril of injury, illness, and eventual and inescapable death.

    Does that mean I look down or joke about her decision? No. Do I admire her choice? Not really. Self mutilation for any reason is in general extreme in my view. Does this help other people? Not particularly since it doesn’t advance the research on what CAUSES cancer and how to CURE it.

    Said all that, does it justify ridicule, nasty comments, putting her down. Of course not. However, she made that choice. Whatever her reasons are she made it and that’s that. You can’t say it’s not certain people’s business though since she made it public and essentially threw the issue in everyone’s face. So you and everyone else will just have to accept that some will praise, other will criticize, and others still will just be trolls.

    • How do you know who it helps and does not help? It may help a woman who has to lose something she’s had all of her life. Knowing that a “beautiful” movie start lost hers as well and the public hold her in high regard for it.

      It shed light on a situation I was pretty ignorant to, so it helped me be more aware.

      This article has a purpose, to those who are saying it’s just feeding the trolls. No it shows us how different everyone is, and how differently we view things.

      Being a celebrity in general to me is BRAVE. Millions of dollars would never be enough for me to put myself out there for the world to judge.

    • Brilliantly stated! You said exactly what I was thinking. Thank you for posting something with so much reason and logic behind it.

  16. She chose her family over breasts. A great choice! Cancer is not a joke. I admire Angelina so much. She inspires a lot of women.

  17. It’s just sad that people care so much about what she does with her body. It’s her choice and whether or not people support it, they need to realize that they have no right to judge her for it.

  18. Well said!!! Thank you for speaking out for Angelina!

  19. Katie, John is right about the interpretation of 87%. I know this because of personal experience with genetic counseling and taking the test for BRCA genes and from teaching Psychology. When you get results that say, “You have an 87% chance of developing cancer” is does not mean if you lined up 100 clones of you 87 of them would get cancer. It does, however, mean that you stand at a greater risk for developing cancer than an otherwise normal healthy person without the gene you have. The articles you are reading might not explain this because the audience they are written for does not need it to be explained. This difference in meaning might not seem like much, but it cuts to the issues John raises about how marketing this new science and creating a consensus that its results ought to dictate our choices. THIS is the discussion we should really be having.

    Let’s be honest: some part of her did this FOR HERSELF, out of fear, fear of getting breast cancer and being forced to have a mastectomy. How can we applaud Angelina–or any woman–for doing anything other than elective preventative surgery after some genetic testing? The choice is: keep your breasts and risk getting cancer or have them removed and know you will not. This is _very_ different from “keep your breasts and get cancer or have them removed and don’t get cancer.” We need to stop pretending that we are certain she would have developed breast cancer if she did not have the surgery. Without the surgery, she still might have died an old cancer-free woman. I’m aggravated that she’s applauded as a public heroine, as a caring and selfless wife and mother, who avoided chemo and/or radiation treatments she might never have had, in the face of survivors, as if survivors chose to have cancer on behalf of their family members.

    Without doubt, Angelina is a physically and emotionally strong woman, but so too are the women who test positive and forego a mastectomy in favor of maintaining a healthy life and routinely screening (which involves more than mammograms), as are the women, like myself, who have family history of breast cancer, but test negative, and nevertheless continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle complete with regular testing. If I were to elect a double mastectomy (my paternal grandmother died of breast cancer too) people would just think I’m nuts. And yet, according to what we know about genetics, even without the BRCA gene, I must be at a higher risk for _some_ cancer.

    • If that is the case, the statistics being touted are absolutely meaningless. Without reference to what percentage of women will develop breast cancer, an 87% greater chance means nothing to me, or to anyone else. That’s incredibly shoddy reporting. With respect, New Scientist is not written with an advanced readership in mind, and *all* the articles are based on Jolie’s original editorial, so the target audience has nothing to do with this particular phrasing.
      Nobody is making the assumption that her choices were: a) get cancer, or b) have a double mastectomy.
      We’re assuming that her doctor told her the risks and she made an informed decision based on those risks. If somebody gave me the same information, I think it likely I would make the same decision. I don’t value my breasts above any other part of my body, and if the odds looked bad ‘might have died an old cancer-free woman’ wouldn’t be good enough for me, as it proved not to be good enough for Jolie. ‘People would think I’m nuts’ isn’t a good enough reason either. They’re just breasts. You calculate the risk, you take personal responsibility, you choose what to do. What do ‘people’ have to do with it?!

      The only difference: I wouldn’t have had implants. However it’s none of my business that she did, just as it’s none of my business that you opted to keep your breasts and have regular mammograms, just as it’s none of your business that she chose to have a mastectomy.

      • Well, that’s why I said “might” regarding the writing of what you were reading and its intended audience. Also, I did not know if you were reading multiple sources, which is always a great way to be sure you’re well informed. As for the statistics, you are right, it IS difficult to garner meaning from them.

        Unfortunately, as romantic a notion as “it’s on the inside that counts” our breasts are well, quite visible, quite noticeable, and shamelessly part of what makes us women. Small, large, saggy, rotund, firm, no matter how they come (or when!) we got ‘em. Not having them is, well, rather difficult! And get married–to a man or a woman–then say that losing a sexual part of your body is a decision you make without the influence of other people. Okok, person.

        Regardless, you missed my point altogether, which is that this is undeniably misplaced admiration. We shouldn’t admire her for doing ANYTHING for her family or her spouse or not getting cancer we don’t know she would have gotten! In saying things like “she chose family over breasts,” people imply the false dichotomy of breasts or cancer. So yes, people ARE making this assumption. It’s a presupposition!

        Bottom line for the author of this piece is that this is not only misplaced admiration, but also misplaced advocacy. I’d be the first to stand up for a woman or politely assert that I feel a man is crossing a boundary with his remarks towards another woman, but honestly, did you have to go looking for the argument? I’m much more offended by people who say things like “Oh yeah, and like she won’t have some fakes put in their place?” That’s ignorant. Reconstructive surgery is painful, risky, and the breasts you achieve in the end are nothing like the real thing.

    • Thank you :-)

      • You are welcome :) Sorry for my accidental mis-posts with the other replies. You are absolutely right, and even “Up to 87% risk” does not meant that she is 87% likely to develop cancer. Although Myriad would LOVE for you to think that!

        • Laura, YES! Perfectly said. I am so confused about how most people are either freaking out about her boobs or freaking out about getting cancer. I, for one, do not rely on Western medicine or testing to make life-altering decisions, but that does not mean that all people should not. That is my choice. This is her choice. End of story.

  20. It’s a bit exaggerated… Sexism, bad stereotypes and the “a woman be identified by a body part” happen all the time. In and out of Internet. And come on… How do you expect that the people don’t mock? All the people express themselves and say things all the time, about EVERYTHING, especially if is a celebrity. The point is, that it’s not surprising that this happened… it’s evident. And with the vast that is the world… The jokes and the humor happen, a lot. It can be cruel, rude, inapropiate and about pretty delicate things, and I understand the seriousness of the subject, but this sort of things are there, all the time, don’t need to be surprised or be that level of disgusted because of the *worst people in the world*.

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