“The Post”: A win for women

by Lauren Farrar–

Free popcorn night at The Lyric Theatre is one way to draw an audience, but Oscar-nominated film The Post is another.

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Washington, D.C., April 14 – The Capitol: The Post is set in Washington, D.C. during the Pentagon Papers government scandal. Photo: Nicolas Raymond

The Post details the Washington Post’s decision-making process to publish the Pentagon Papers and leads up to the landmark Supreme Court case New York Times Co. v. United States. One notable feature of the film is its feminist message, especially with Meryl Streep portraying the country’s first female newspaper publisher Kay Graham.

One cannot help but cringe at the way men treat women in the film, which is set in the early 1970s. Graham deals with criticism throughout the movie, and she must decide whether or not to publish the Pentagon Papers with a lack of trust from many of her male colleagues. More troubling, though, are the actions related to body language and aggressive male dominance.

The cinematic decision to highlight what is now considered unacceptable acts toward women made the feminist message more evident. The characters’ responses to this sexism are also evident. Movie-goers might hear someone else in the audience express triumph when Graham suggests firing one of the board members for his disrespect. Perhaps there is a positive response when Tony Bradlee, wife of the Washington Post’s executive editor Ben Bradlee, defends Graham and her struggle as a female professional.

The film’s feminist angle is admirable. It would have been easy to leave this aspect out of the story given the focus on government scandal and freedom of the press during the Nixon administration. Instead, screenwriters took the opportunity with Graham’s position and the social standards of the time to highlight sexist problems.

Between the modern-day call for gender equality and movements like the “Me Too” campaign, women now bear a stronger voice than the 1970s woman. One can only hope that Hollywood will continue to use stories like the Washington Post’s to contribute to the female voice.