Michele and I saw The Post, the other night and I liked it, a lot. Maybe because it is political, maybe because it is a sort of homage to old-timey newspaper movies, but, mostly, I think because it is so comfortably familiar. I’m not normally a Steven Spielberg fan but he was the perfect director for this movie. The scenes of Merrill Streep walking into a room of all men, all in their dark power suits, seem so familiar from my growing-up past and Streep’s tentative reaction is perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t grow up in that environment, but I did grow up in an environment that was trying to ape that life. A life in which rich, cultivated, women were close to powerless but had the time and money to look great in their clothes. It was a time when a woman being powerful was considered crass. Merrill Streep is great as one of these powerless women, Kay Graham – trusted only to manage the family while her husband was given a newspaper to run by her father – is forced to take control.
This movie tells of a time, that seems longer ago than it was, when it wasn’t as obvious that men were killing the world (to paraphrase Mad Max Fury Road). It takes place in 1971 and Spielberg’s suburban, optimistic, sensibility is perfect for the time, giving us scenes like Graham leaving the supreme court and walking past a group of almost Rockwellian women, seemingly waiting for change. What a difference it was getting off Bart and going up an escalator into an immense crowd of, mostly women, who are no longer waiting; they want control now. Control of their bodies, control of their lives, and, I hope, control of the world.
Almost always, however, control is not freely given, it is seized. In this case, the only way to seize political power is through the ballot box and while slightly more women vote than men, only about 68% of women voted in 2016; I would guess that that number was considerably higher in this crowd. Everybody was in a celebratory mood and the most heartening thing to me was the high turnout of young women.