Portlandia Has Followed Me

15 Jun

I’m in Indiana, and to my astonishment I just saw a Portlandia-esque commercial. Carrie Brownstein was advertising American Express, and among other things she was at a record store browsing through LPs, perhaps at Jackpot Records on Hawthorne Boulevard or some other shop I’ve visited.

Seeing that ad really registered with me: my home-away-from home is actually quite famous. I’m referring to In Other Words, the feminist community center in which the Portlandia crew films the feminist bookstore skits.

Every day, Portlandia fans show up at IOW, and they typically want to take pictures. Some actually stick around and attend events and/or buy merchandise or make a donation. Some are dudes who only want to take pictures from outside and don’t want to come in. At least one volunteer (someone considerably less shy than I) opened the front door and invited a group of Portlandia fans to come inside; they did so, and were courteous and curious. That was a relief—I haven’t forgotten when a cisgender white male came into the space while I was busy with a customer, asked to use the restroom, and left without looking around. Visits from Portlandia fans are fine, as long as they respect In Other Words.

Some of the fans who show up at IOW are from Australia. That means we’re world famous! Of course, I’m not letting fame go to my head or to IOW’s head—it would be a nurturing, supportive, therapeutic, and important space even if it weren’t for the fame that Portlandia has caused. Often I experience reminders that outside the IOW community, misogyny and patriarchy and dismissiveness toward female experience are still very much the norm. In Other Words is the only nonprofit feminist bookstore/community still in business in the United States.

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