Thursday, March 26, 2015

Angelina Jolie's Tough Road Ahead

Here's my question: Why did Angelina Jolie write an Op-ed piece for The New York Times chronicling in great detail her very personal and heart-wrenching account of her recent surgery and the decisions leading up to it?

In the event you're just re-entering the earth's atmosphere, Ms. Jolie had preventative surgery last week to remove her fallopian tubes and ovaries in order to remove the key organs where cancer could set up shop. She had surgery in 2013 to remove her breasts to forestall cancer there as well. She will no longer be able to bear children and is thrust into immediate and full menopause (something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy--well, maybe). Luckily, she has six children, three adopted, and hopes to see them grow up. Sounds like a perfect motivation for surgery.

Maybe I've watched too many episodes of Scandal, where the message is always: Get ahead of the story, Spin it your way. If that was the case here, if Ms. Jolie did write the piece (if she did indeed write it) a mere week after her surgery so she could own the moment before the media unearthed it, then I feel even sadder for our society than I already do. If she did it because she has an important message, and as newly-minted public ambassador for women's health and atrocities around the world (really, don't act like you don't remember when she and then husband Billy Bob Thornton wore matching vials of blood around their necks), then I'm wondering why she had to write it Right Now, when she is just recovering and has a difficult re-adjustment ahead.

I am not here to judge her, I simply want to throw out the question.

She appears to be a person of ethics and high moral ground. I believe she  believes she now has an important message to share and is using her very public platform to do so. To be honest, I find her decision brave, as I'm sure many women do, but I'm not sure the motivation behind it is entirely so.

However, if her story raises awareness and saves lives for those women whose reproductive organs and mammary glands that have given rise to life and the sustaining of that life within their bodies and outside of them, have turned into weapons then I'm all for getting the message out.

But if she wasn't a celebrity closely identified with being a gorgeous sex symbol (in a twist of irony one could never get away with in fiction) would we care as much?  

And what would that say about us as a society as a whole?