"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."
In a moving essay for the September issue of Elle, the actress, 44, spoke about why she's proud of her sons and the wisdom she's passed on to her daughters. Pitt shares children Maddox, 18, Pax, 15, Zahara, 14, Shiloh, 13, and 11-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox with ex-husband Brad Pitt.
"I could not be prouder of my sons for the men they are becoming, the way they respect their sisters and are respected by them," Jolie wrote in the essay, before adding what she told her daughters.
"I often tell my daughters that the most important thing they can do is to develop their minds," she said. "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."
She added, "There is nothing more attractive -- you might even say enchanting -- than a woman with an independent will and her own opinions."
Throughout Jolie's essay, she spoke about how women today are often perceived as witches and even referenced the Salem witch trials.
"Like the ultimate conspiracy theory, anything you couldn't explain -- from a crop failing to a child falling ill - could be put down to the influence of a supposedly wicked woman," she wrote ."These were often destitute widows, eking out an existence as healers on the fringes of society, or younger women whose seductive powers could easily be attributed to magic."
She added, "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."
The "Maleficent" star also referred to the term "wicked women" and expressed how the world needs more of them. The beginning of her essay, in fact, listed the definition of the word "maleficent," which coincidentally derives from the Latin word "maleficius," meaning wicked.
MALEFICENT: adj., causing or capable of producing evil or mischief; harmful or baleful [from Latin maleficent-, from maleficus, wicked, prone to evil, from malum, evil]. Malefice: n. (archaic), a wicked deed or enchantment.
"'Wicked women' are just women who are tired of injustice and abuse," Jolie wrote. "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 continued. "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."
Jolie -- who dedicated her essay to "all the wicked women, and the men who understand them" -- concluded by offering advice for how women can navigate themselves in today's society.
"Who we are meant to be in life is something we all have to work out for ourselves," she wrote. "I think we can often go offtrack as women, because our instinct is to nurture or to adjust ourselves to society's expectations."
She continued, "It can be hard to take the time to ask ourselves who we truly want to be -- not what we think other people will approve of or accept, but who we really are. But when you listen to yourself, you can make the choice to step forward and learn and change."
The September issue of Elle hits newsstand August 27.