Actor Angelina Jolie, popular for her strong onscreen roles paid ode to “free-thinking women” through an article for a magazine. “The world needs more wicked women”, she writes in the September issue of Elle. “‘Wicked women’ are just women who are tired of injustice and abuse,” she writes in the essay.
In October, Angelina Jolie is set to reprise her role as the complicated villain from Disney’s Sleepy Beauty in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. The titular witch, whom Jolie portrayed for the first time in 2014’s Maleficent, is treated with much more nuance in this franchise than she ever was in fairytales. Now, Jolie wants to make sure all of the world’s witches receive as much respect. In the essay, Jolie examines our dark history with women perceived to be witches — and how much we owe them.
Jolie begins with a brief lesson about witch hunts in history, when (mostly) women were murdered for “maleficia, the alleged crime of evil deeds through magic.”
“Women who refuse to follow rules and codes they don’t believe are best for themselves or their families. Women who won’t give up on their voice and rights, even at the risk of death or imprisonment or rejection by their families and communities. If that is wickedness, then the world needs more wicked women,” she comments.
Ahead of the film’s release, Jolie writes that women who rebel against society are considered “dangerous”. “Since time immemorial, women who rebel against what is considered normal by society – even unintentionally – have been labelled as unnatural, weird, wicked, and dangerous. What is surprising is the extent to which this kind of myth and prejudice has persisted throughout the centuries and still colours the world we live in,” she adds.
Jolie, who has long worked with the United Nations, currently as a Special Envoy and previously as a Goodwill ambassador from 2001 to 2012, goes on to discuss the human rights violations against women around the globe. Practices such as forced marriages, genital mutilations, and so-called “honor killings,” Jolie writes, is a way to keep women in “secondary positions.” She notes that women who run for office, protest injustice, or go against societal norms are often labeled with witchy terminology.
“Looked at in this light, ‘wicked women’ are just women who are tired of injustice and abuse. Women who refuse to follow rules and codes they don’t believe are best for themselves or their families. Women who won’t give up on their voice and rights, even at the risk of death or imprisonment or rejection by their families and communities,” Jolie says.
She concludes her essay with a call of action for her daughters. “I often tell my daughters that the most important thing they can do is to develop their minds. You can always put on a pretty dress, but it doesn’t matter what you wear on the outside if your mind isn’t strong. There is nothing more attractive — you might even say enchanting — than a woman with an independent will and her own opinions.”