Poet and playwright, William Congreve, wrote “Musick has Charms to soothe a savage Breast,” in the tragedy, The Mourning Bride, and although the author refers not to a physical part of the body, the quote seems timely considering the preventive surgery performed on Angelina Jolie in April. Most Hollywood insiders lauded the movie star for her brave decision to bob her breasts and many women in the general public agreed, particularly those at risk, those already enduring breast cancer treatment or breast cancer survivors, that this is a brave and sensible move. As the chatter from bloggers and columnists continued through the month of May, most supported the move, but some negative comments arose. In fact, an explosion was heard when Mike Adams, the Health Ranger Editor of Naturalnews.com, unleashed an unflattering diatribe regarding the removal of Jolies’ orbs on May 15th. This inspired Dr. David Gorski of Scienceblogs.com to unleash his brand of spew against the opinions of Adams and in support of the actresses’ decision.
Not all the critics are men, as demonstrated by Ruth Fowler’s article, Angelina Jolie: Privilege, Tits and Being Dumb published on her website, The World Breaks Everyone! Her viewpoints as a woman are interesting enough, but as a self-professed sociopathic narcissist, she hammers Jolie for a living a privileged life in the final paragraph by stating:
“You know what, Angelina. It sounds like you’ve had a hard time recently. I guess I can forgive the complete absence of awareness in your privilege-denying Op-Ed, because after all, it’s hard to understand that some Americans – yes, not only black and brown Americans, but white ones too! – can be just as deprived as those brown people in foreign countries you’re so invested in “saving”. When the fuss has died down about your elaborately reconstructed chest and your incredible bravery in submitting to top-end, essential, preventive medical treatments in order to avoid a painful and abhorrent death, perhaps you’ll do the decent thing and spend some of your vast resources on addressing some of the issues you seem pretty ignorant about right now.”
Apparently, it isn’t enough to just say that cutting off healthy breasts is stupid. You need to whip up a little attitude and show everybody how angry you are no matter what side of the fence you reside. And that’s why The Mourning Bride is so appropriate. Like the character Almeria in play, Angelina Jolie is looking for that “Musick” that will be the “Harmony to calm (her) Griefs.” Whether Jolie is privileged over others where both affordability and support are beyond question may not be the issue here. Removal of healthy tissue before its time is the question. Do doctors and surgeons know enough about the risks and the genetic propensities of disease to offer such opinions? Is the genetic code in otherwise healthy tissue an automatic death sentence or are there other options? Doesn’t examination and a program of cancer-risk analyses, even if it’s extreme, suffice or even preclude preemptive surgery? These are questions to ask your doctor, your surgeon, your family and most importantly, yourself.
Doctors and surgeons need to search their souls, also. They took an oath to “do no harm,” and although that is a very general statement in this regard, it’s worth examining . . . examining whether women like Angelina Jolie will ever find peace or that Musick she seeks to soften her fears. And, for the doctors, what of the Hippocratic Oath . . . and the Rod of Asclepius?