Let me make this abundantly clear: If a woman, any woman, decides after due reflection and getting the best medical advice she can that prophylactic mastectomy is the right thing to do, then she obviously should do it and I would have no problem with that; indeed, it would be none of my business. My problem is with celebrities actively or tacitly espousing behaviours that may be of unfortunate consequence to women of lesser means, or to women who will do something just because the celebrity did.
Please read this article, or even the final five paragraphs, and possibly you will begin to understand why I think this was all grandstanding, and a DISSERVICE to women.
I will make no bones about it: I loathe Angelina Jolie. To me, she defines bimbo. Her father, actor Jon Voigt, also turns my stomach. They both give definition to the terms grandstanding, selfishness and ignorance.
That having been said, and despite the fact that I have a ton of art I want to produce today, I had to comment on Jolie's latest quest for....for....? Beats the heck out of me. Money she has. Notoriety she has. She has changed the definition of female beauty so that now the untutored millions regard her puffy lips, miniaturized nose and Arnold Schwartzenegger jaw as beautiful. But then, they have also turned the equine visage of Sarah Jessica Parker into some holy grail of feminine beauty. One wonders what happened to true beauties with interesting, and even classic, features: Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Maureen O'Hara, et al.
Cancer prevention by mutilation
But I digress. Jolie has now done a major service to plastic surgeons and insurance companies worldwide, and a major disservice to women in general: She had her boobs removed to prevent breast cancer.
Here's the first comment about it on Huffington Post when I read the story:
I an (sic) unsure without actually having cancer why you would opt for surgery, regardless of the stats? There is also a very substantial risk of not surviving surgery and that is also a fact. I guess I would have many doctors opinions first which she probably did. But there is also a greater than 50-50 chance I will be in a car accident in my life, but I do not sell my car. I know it is a crass comparison but this puzzles me to no end.
The author of that statement said it as well as it can be said. Why would you allow someone to remove body parts on the chance that you might get sick? The chance. Not the certainty. Even if the chance were 99 percent, wouldn't one think it prudent to avoid the risk of surgery and just keep a darn close eye on the situation?
To me, what Jolie did is as nuts as not riding in a car because you MIGHT get in an accident. If you have a brain, you learn to drive properly, keep your car in good condition, drive with all your wits about you, and avoid driving at times and in places where problems are likely to occur: untreated icy roads, the roads to Waitrose on "old farts" shopping day (Thursday in my area)...and so on.
It plays right into the hands of the mainly male doctors who, for years, convinced women that a radical mastectomy was the only way to go if they did get breast cancer. Finally, it was found that less radical surgery had virtually the same survival rate and left a woman more whole, even with the possibility of reconstruction.
Open season on women, redux
It has been some time now since women regularly were mutilated in that way, so I expect the surgeons whose incomes depended upon it needed a new way to prosper. AHA! A defective gene. A gene that MIGHT cause cancer. Wow! Blame it on the woman's own genetics. How great is that? The doctor then doesn't even have to be complicit in the preventive mutilation, ah, surgery, of the women involved.
It is, in case you haven't noticed, open season on women again. This publicity about a famous actress mutilating herself in concert with her doctors, if not with common sense, is a fine companion maneuver to Gardasil vaccine from Merck (and a similar one from GlaxoSmithKline, the company that brought you the deadly Welbutrin). These are almost totally useless vaccines that prevent a tiny percentage of HPV-linked cancers ( I'd like to see the data in 20 years or so) in some women but has caused enormous problems for some of the teenage girls it was forced on. Gardasil and Cervarix from GlaxoSmithKline have been mandated in 21 states for teenage girls, but not for boys although vaccinating boys would ALSO prevent it in girls as the much-vaunted herd immunity kicked in. The anti-cancer vaccines are both reckless profit-taking by pharmaceutial companies and classic sexism in the way they are mandated and administered.
Sex objects making decisions? Yipes.
Angelina Jolie is a sex object, so I suppose it would be ludicrous to expect her to act on behalf of the welfare and physical/emotional/intellectual/spiritual integrity of women and, at the very least, keep the surgery to herself. If it was a personal decision, there would be no need to broadcast it.
However, as it is, she seems to have decided to be a piece of meat for the medical establishment to carve up for its own monetary gain. A globe full of women who emulate any idiot who has gained the spotlight will be tempted to follow her lead. The difference is, of course, that most of them won't be able to afford the nipples-intact-and-everything surgery available to Jolie, as they will be depending on greedy insurance companies to get the job done. It is unlikely they'll have the lengthy nipple-saving process Jolie did, if they are allowed reconstruction at all; most insurance companies consider reconstruction to be cosmetic surgery and therefore not covered by insurance.
The basic point remains: An actress followed by millions has just given the green light to doctors to suggest double mastectomies to millions of those millions of women...and because a favorite celebrity has done it, many will follow suit, often to their detriment.
This is ludicrous in the days of readily available mammograms. Even in the days of manual self-exam, the thought of risky, expensive mutilation to prevent something that might or might not ever happen seems to be completely nonsensical. Unlike the Huffington Post reader, however, I am not puzzled. People in the United States primarily, but also the rest of the so-called first world, have become frightened of everything any authority figure tells them is scary. They forget whose best interests those authority figures have in mind. Hint: It is NOT the welfare of the population; it is the magnitude of their own bank accounts.