Angelina Jolie won’t mourn wicked women, she’ll celebrate them


In a new essay for ELLE, Angelina Jolie, who will reprise her role in Maleficent later this year, celebrates the power of the ‘wicked’ women of the world.

Ahead of her return to the screen as the ever-witchy, ever-misunderstood, brooding but brilliant villainess Maleficent, director, star, and all-around real-life queen Angelina Jolie has penned an essay that reframes the misrepresented women of history as not wicked, but woke.

As a woman who has been in the spotlight much of her life, branded as “crazy,” blamed for the dissolution of one of Hollywood’s most gilded love affairs, and come out on top, Jolie is perhaps the perfect person to finally be the one to say it: women aren’t sinful just because they are loud; the world simply isn’t willing to make room for our noise.

In a particularly powerful paragraph, Jolie makes a direct connection between the historical oppression of women for doing something so sinful as speaking their minds to her own very public past — a past that we, even as women, often criticized, joked about, and pored over articles in People for more details to obsess over. And though it seems obvious, and of course we know it intellectually, it’s rather striking to be reminded so bluntly, and by a woman so famously at the center of many a Hollywood witch hunt, that to be complicit in the casual villainizing of women is to add kindling to the fire that’s always threatening to engulf her.

"“Women could be accused of witchcraft for having an independent sex life, for speaking their mind on politics or religion, or for dressing differently. Had I lived in earlier times, I could have been burnt at the stake many times over for simply being myself.”"

And she doesn’t stop there. She goes on to cite the injustices of the world as they pertain to the constant and pandemic quieting of women, including referencing Iranian girls’ protests by dancing, Joan of Arc’s famous punishment for androgynous dressing, and even our inability to take women running for office seriously.

"“Since time immemorial, women who rebel against what is considered normal by society — even unintentionally — have been labeled as unnatural, weird, wicked, and dangerous.”"

As she so eloquently and viscerally reminds us that women are still struggling to both fit within the boxes we’ve made for ourselves, and destroy the boxes that have been made for us. We’re aware of the world’s desire to make us smaller, and as such, we navigate it, and we’re trying, desperately, to live outside of the narrative that will keep us silent. We’re willing to say what we think, fight for what we believe, and scream about what we feel, and we’re desperate to hold onto the private, vulnerable parts of ourselves that make us whole. We’re longing to reverse the curse, and we’re safe in the tower, where it’s just us and those who understand us. We’re wicked witches, and we’re royalty, and we’re the knights who will save us.

Or, as Jolie so beautifully posits, we may not be perpetually in the middle of a choice between triumph and tragedy, peace and peril, ferocity and fire. We may be at the forefront of it.

"“But it is also true that women don’t wake up every morning wanting to fight. We want to be able to be soft and nurturing and graceful and loving — not everyone is born to fight. And we don’t have magical powers. What we do have is the ability to support one another, and to work with the many great men who value and respect women as their equals.”"

The right to choose has always been one that women have had to fight for, in almost every arena. What Jolie has illuminated here is, while we’re still working toward change, we have the ability to make choices that can move us in the right direction. So we’re not the wicked witch, or the princess, or the knight after all. We’re the storyteller.

light. Related Story. Brie Larson: We need more women to become film critics

Find the interview with Jolie article on ELLE