The cover is marking the 4th of July (Strike One against the paper for celebrating imperial jingoism) and features a young man and a young woman in RedWhite&Blue swimming suits posed so that it looks like the man is -- to use street parlance -- about to mount her doggie-style. (Please read that entire last clause in 'scare quotes'.) This is Strike Two, of course.
I've got nothing against any particular sexual position that is enjoyed between consenting adults. Hell, I enjoy as many as I can. However, the graphical representation of such in our society has an undeniably deleterious effect on women. AND men, actually, as Patriarchy makes life miserable for everyone, but the near constant degradation of women in the media, on the street, through laws, and in schools and at jobs -- not a complete list -- is a syndrome that demands attention of its own.
Within this context -- the domination of women in the public sphere -- the Mercury's cover is one more image among millions of others that sends an undeniable message: Women exist to be used by men.
The suggestion of domination in the particular pose chosen by the Mercury is not only obvious but clearly intended.
Intended not only to shock or titillate, but also to excuse. Part of the the Mercury's demographic are the City's hipsters -- those mostly white, fashionably-dressed, tiny cell-phone carryin', "liberals" you see on N. Mississippi, at Last Thursday, or in the Nite Lite Lounge -- and these kids are being told by the Mercury that Sexism Is Okay. "Hey relax everybody; We've had Third Wave Feminism. Now it's okay to use images like this because women hold power over men because they are desired by them. The stripper grips the reigns of power, not the businessman with the fistful of dollars. Don't be such a square."
Tell that to the millions of women who are abused by their partners, can't walk down the street at night without Fear, are seeing control of their bodies disappear while Democrats and Republicans collude to take away their reproductive freedoms, can't dress comfortably in hot weather without being leered, and never know if they can trust a man 'cause who knows what his real motives are.
The plain truth is that most men don't LIKE women -- they desire them. To most American men, women are not other people with ideas, imagination and accomplishments, but merely pieces of meat with holes in them. And because patriarchy is so insidiously effective, many women don't think of themselves as much more than that. Everyone's buried under a heap of ignorance and pain, and the Portland Mercury is piling more on top. Their choice of cover image is singularly appopriate in that one way: Women ARE getting fucked up the ass.
"Podcast" THAT, you hipster jerks.