October 3, 2016

Portland bookstore and community center to end its relationship with Portlandia


The sign will remain in the window of Portland's In Other Words. Via Willamette Weekly.

The sign will remain in the window of Portland’s In Other Words. Via Willamette Weekly.

Even if you’ve never visited the City of Roses, you may recognize the brick exterior of In Other Words, a volunteer-supported feminist community space and bookstore in Northeast Portland. That’s because it moonlights as Women and Women First, the fictional feminist bookstore on IFC’s Portlandia. 

In the universe of the satirical Lorne Michaels-produced sketch show, Women and Women First is run by Toni (played by Carrie Brownstein) and Candace (played by Fred Armisen, in a wig and dress). The punchlines of these sketches tend to involve Toni and Candace’s politics rendering them almost surreally unhelpful as booksellers, mixed with some Monty Python-style man-in-a-dress absurdity.

But In Other Words will no longer abide this type of humor, which they hold to be “trans-antagonistic.” On a broader scale, the shop also believes that Portlandia has been damaging to their neighborhood, and the city more broadly. They have ceased to allow the show to film sketches in the store.

And in the spring, as Matthew Korfhage reports for the Willamette Weekly, a sign appeared in the front window of In Other Words, saying, “Fuck Portlandia! Transmisogyny — Racism — Gentrification — Queer Antagonism — Devaluation of Feminist Discourse.”

In a statement posted late last week, the store explained further.

This was a direct response to a particular egregious filming of the show in our space which saw our store left a mess, our staff mistreated, our neighbors forced to close and lose business for a day without warning, and our repeated attempts to obtain accountability or resolution dismissed. It was also a direct response to a show which is in every way diametrically opposed to our politics and the vision of society we’re organizing to realize. A show which has had a net negative effect on our neighborhood and the city of Portland as a whole. Shortly after this decision was made, a volunteer placed the Fuck Portlandia sign in our window.

The statement concludes by explaining that the shop’s board and staff have turned over since the relationship with the television show began, and that the new powers that be stand behind the sign and sentiment.



Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.