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Portland Mercury contributing to Patriarchal bullshit (Again)

This story is specially dedicated to those of you out there who still defend the City's trashy weeklies -- "I only read the Willy Week and the Mercury"; that is, to those whose addiction to the corporate media still hasn't been broken. I'd like you to take a look at the current cover of the Portland Mercury and tell me how it's not just f'n trash. Not that anyone should expect much from a publication that stays afloat selling sex ads.
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.
The Cover Image 30.Jun.2006 13:02


I'm not posting it here because the nature of such images is that each one is another rock in the avalanche. One needs a deep level of self-awareness to avoid being affected. That's the nature of inundation. It wipes away your ability to discern well. Inevitably, seeing another one just reinforces all previous instances. If you feel you must look at it, however, it is here:


One more thing 30.Jun.2006 13:08


I really hate the Mercury, and I'm sick of people defending it. Get a fucking life, you loser twits. And yes, I know that talking this way is not an example of Non Violent Communication (TM) ISBN: 1892005034. Buzz off.

I did not hate this cover but agree in general 30.Jun.2006 13:22


The mercury also like to drag up racial ridiculing images now and then and toys (like a game)with homophobia sometimes too. Way to be cutting edge. It is almost like they think that nobody at all has thought to do this. The dominant voice is STILL "angry white" with a smug "smarty pants" followup (yes I know that their are many women writers... who cares?). Same old fucking same old. They really might represent the hipster voice in this town, but it is time they turn the gun on themselves. They handle cultural issues in a stupid stupid way ( and please do not simplify what I am saying as a demand for safe PC content either) There political content is good, but there social content is transparent and predictable. Hell it might even be lagging behind the times at this point.

the merc, for those who don't care 30.Jun.2006 13:36


Portland's two weeklies are not exactly Harper's or the National Geographic, sot it's not worth expending a lot of anxiety over their societal contribution to the people of this little town.

As far as this statement is concerned: "The plain truth is that most men don't LIKE women -- they desire them"....A great deal of women seem to seek men who desire them, regadless of whether men like them or not. Maybe it's conditioning, or phsychological, emotional dysfunction.

Every once in awhile you run across someone who at least tries to see through the fog.

YUCK 30.Jun.2006 13:54

Ben Waiting

Yesterday I had seen this newspaper(?) discarde, laying cover up on a bench like wall along a sidewalk downtown.
As I looked down at it as I walked by... I thought to my self
"Look at that crap they spew on the cover and then is just left laying around for society to HAVE to look at it"

Then 20 yards later here walks a young father holding his little sons hand walking down the sidewalk heading right towards the disgusting rag. I was disgusted at my age looking at the discarded trashy paper, and then here is a little kid having to look at it"
It hurt my feelings some.

It's a raunchy rag that I really don't even consider having any journalistic value at all.
It's not even worth looking at when it's laying in the gutter but I have to see its cover on a dozen different locations throughout the day.
Free Speech I am all for.
I also feel like expressing my own free speech is declaring this Mercury Paper is a waste of ink and paper, and I feel if you read it you will be wasting your precious time.

I wonder what that 4 year old is thinking

I TOTALLY AGREE 30.Jun.2006 14:51


Every time I look at the Merc or Willy Week, I get disgusted. I have concluded that they are not a real newspaper. You can't respect them. I am so sick of them, and I don't respect them or take them seriously. I am so thankful that someone finally said something. It seems like these two rags are using sex to trick hipsters into lightening up on the right, and it's a dirty trick and an insult to people's intelligence.

ummm 30.Jun.2006 15:13

i have seen

the mercury is also extremely ageist, but that wouldn't bother most of the posters above...anyhow, it's just a bad apple all the way around; that humphries guy (editor)is cashing in on this "cave man chic" thing that was the frat house reaction to hippies back in the sixties/seventies, and was re-invented, made intellectually acceptable, by "spy magazine," back in the early nineties.

it's all grunt grunt, hump, hump, stoopid is cool, except we're just playing at stupid; we're actually smarter than you; it's nihilism, jingoism, void of content
and devoted to empty worship of consumerism and bland, throw up, pop culture fads.

it's cheetos, doritos, it's boring, at best.......

by the way, i know viva (woman on the cover), and i respect her and what she does; she is a bit misguided, and lord i once tried to help her find her way...but don't throw her out with the bathwater...sexworkers are people, too, and deserve our respect.

but that humphries guy has done more to degrade discourse than any other print media outlet, save the big O.

his schtick is old, unoriginal, tired, and lame...to throw in their hackneyed, paint-by-numbers politico coverage, is just to make the pabst swilling poseurs feel like they are actually informed; not that they can read beyond "see spot run."

honestly, i wouldn't wipe my ass with that rag. The big O works better. that fine georgia pacific pulp, turned into newsprint by crown zellerbach (sp?)

intersting sidebar..the pamplin fortune (old money in portland) is Georgia Paciic, and little bob junior, who owns the Trib, got his money from that, which he sank into ross island sand and gravel, which now fuels the unending debt of his vanity organ, the trib...

at least little bobby has some kind of philosophy, the religious right.

humpy is just an egomaniac, an empty barn on the inside: read between the lines of his rag and you can see his pain, and his desperate need to hide how empty he is inside, by encouraging you, his readers, to be just like him

WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?! 30.Jun.2006 22:01

cover your eyes honey

> 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.

The author seems to be trying to have it both ways here. He or she wants to be perceived as tolerant and sex-positive but simultaneously wants to sell us the ancient doctrine that women must be protected from the effects of sexual imagery. If anything the graphic in question is even sleazier than might be imagined from the author's description -- he or she left out the spurting garden hose -- but it's hardly clear that the "doggie" factor is relevant or that one of the models is being degraded more than the other.

In any case, I agree the weekly newspaper business was more tolerable when it was less graphic and confined its boundary-pushing to the world of text.

The later commenter went even further, complaining that CHILDREN MIGHT SEE THE PAPER, implying nothing should be printed that wouldn't be suitable for "4 year olds." Hey by the way don't let your 4 year old read indymedia either. At some point grown-ups are entitled to communicate with each other without worrying about your 4 year old.

What's the guy really doing? 30.Jun.2006 23:40


I took a look at the cover picture again today. I don't exactly know what to make of it. Could be considered to imply the kind of obnoxious suggestion the author of this article resonded to. You have to study the photo a little bit, but the guy is holding a hose with water squirting out of it. He doesn't have his pants unbuttoned, or unzipped, or even have his crotch up to her butt. The suggestion has to do with the hose in his hand, and what he might do with it, positioned directly behind her as such. It's more likely that the suggestion is he's going to hit with a cooling blast from the hose. That's just my take on it. At first glance though, the picture looks like cheap, gratuitous porn that the merc seems to think is so clever and funny. Anything more would be a lot to expect people of their intellectual level.

That's about enough energy wasted on their crappy, idotic, cover art. I sympathize with people who have to be concerned for the effects of such rot on their kids. Speaking for myself, I think it's better having it out there where you can see it, and instruct your kids in dealing with it responsibly. Ignoring the way people are may make you as an adult feel better and more secure, but your kid, not having any familiarity with the proclivities of people in the world around them, can find themselves taken up short. Preacher's kid syndrome.

that's right! 01.Jul.2006 10:31


i have seen's analysis hits right on the mark. any time i read the merc i feel like i ought to wash my eyes-it's all about the polyester pose. They are totally ageist and yet they are going the same way as ww, time is rapidly passing them by and so they're screaming louder and louder about how hip they are. It's also hilarious how they're always dissing hippies-that scene's into its third generation and shows no sign of ending, unlike the caveman cool merc-sters.

Less talk, more action??? 01.Jul.2006 11:13


Thank you for your post, sister!

You're totally right on with the Mercury misogyny bit. So what can be done about it? Vandalizing mercury stands? Burning the papers? I would employ these tactics except that a) the latter hurts the earth and b)i'm pretty sure they'll keep churning out more nonsense "news" and if i do this alone i'm certain to run out of energy.

The left talks and infights and moans a lot. There's a million bazillion books out there outlining all the bullshit human elites are doing. But do we still go to work everyday like it's no big deal? OH YEAH WE DO. (So do I, and this right here is more inactive complaining crap, but i'd like to change...)

Do you want to do something about the Mercury? I'll join your fight

Don't Like It - Don't Read It! 01.Jul.2006 11:31


Although the Mercury's political coverage is better than most of the Portland papers. They don't owe fealty to the Portland Business Alliance like the Oregonian, or to the yuppie community like the WillyWeek, or are run by a fundie like the Tribune.

And, yes, I might consider myself a hipster, although I'm going through the "who are these people" phase when I read the music reviews.

Another thing to consider - Viva Las Vegas, the female model on the front cover, is not some innocent - she's former publisher of Danzine, and one of the best-known members of the Portland sex workers community. And she's no dummy - I don't think she's being exploited. (And I don't think she'd appreciate the maternalistic attitude of anti-sex Second Wave feminists, either....)

viva 01.Jul.2006 14:38

las vegas

teresa dulce s the former editor of danzine
viva is the former editor of exotic magazine

jus the facts, ma'am

Merc a mob mag 01.Jul.2006 23:06


I've known Merc was organized crime for some time. That's why they support prostitution/escorts etc. Whatever men do, don't learn to respect and please a woman in and out of bed! That would really upset the apple cart. Treat them in a degrading fashion and pay and pay and pay!

The Mercury will continue to call 911 truth a mad conspiracy theory. Like JFK, the mob had a big hand in 911. Organized crime/corruption is the real disease of this country. Right wing conservatism is a mask and diversion, all be it an ugly one.

The Merc will also play up to some radical causes to sucker in naive patsies.

Willamete Week may be more middle of the road, but they are not mob. WW is fairer about things that count, like 911.

Be careful with that logic Varro 02.Jul.2006 02:49


While "Don't Like It - Don't Do It" is an appealing statement to libertarians and anarchists it is reductionist and can defeat real discussion on issues. While I believe in maximizing liberty, a society can only maximize individual liberty to the extent that it doesn't harm others. I can't for example fend off criticism of having child sex-slaves by saying "Don't Like It - Don't Buy One!" People desire liberty and that's good. However, the failure to recognize when one's actions are harming to others is one of the reasons this country is in such a sorry state. If what we truly want is liberty than we need to assume the responsibility that comes with it; otherwise we just may deserve the corporate nanny state we get.

I haven't seen the cover, and probably won't, so I can't judge the appropriateness of the criticism but there is definitely some good commentary in the article that is worth paying attention to. Far too many men become fearful of the prospect of empowering women. But really, there is nothing to fear; we can build a community where women actually get paid as much as men and the economy won't collapse; it may even benefit substantially. We can move beyond cavalier sexism and promote real connections between people.

America Is afraid of sex 02.Jul.2006 12:29


How DARE they put something like that on a free newspaper. It almost looks like they're doing it. There is way too much tabboo about sex and sexuality in america, try going to italy and see how sex is portrayed in the media. It'll be a shocker to you, you repressd american trapped in the portland bubble. Lets start a war with the free paper so we can protest it. You don't know how good you have it, if this is something you're upset about.

hate=love war=peace sex exploitation=freedumb 02.Jul.2006 17:33


the sexual conquest in europe that equates women's lib with exploitation of womens' bodies has indeed been going on for some time. I fail to see how that makes europeans more advanced or with it than other nations. All forms of media here in the US have also been pushing this view for quite some time; it really got turbocharged in the 70's (remember all the backlash rape films?). Criticizing sexual exploitation does not make a person a prude or an enemy of liberty. The criticism is about responsibility and about wanting to create a world that is based on cooperation and understanding rather than exploitation and manipulation. By manufacturing sympathy and media tolerance for the sex industry, society sends a message to its young men & women that hey, its ok, its your body and look at all that cash! The argument is not about sex per se, but rather how it is packaged & sold. It is also about being tired of being told that in order to be liberated, women must tolerate and indeed support nude/semi nude advertising, sexual exploitation in the news & entertainment media, pornography, stripping and prostitution. It is about being tired of not having a voice or a choice.

As far as trivializing the worry over this issue, I have this to say. In places where a person's every waking moment is focused on finding food and avoiding being killed, what do you think the number one fate to befall women in such places is? And this fate is directly tied to societal attitudes toward women - soldiers who grow up in societies that view women as having less value than men (less value than livestock, in some enlightened lands) and as being equal with the sex act itself have no thought at all about raping whomever they encounter. The only thing that can stop them is their own consciences - and where are these consciences developed? In the home, in the school, and in the society.

Poor analogy.. 02.Jul.2006 21:37


...concerning child sex slaves versus adults in the Mercury cover being discussed.

Child sex slaves are obviously below the age of consent and do not have any say in the matter. Models posing for the cover of the Mercury are obviously doing it of their free will and getting compensated for it.

I'm all for discussion of whether the cover is anything more than what I think it is - a double-entendre using the hose as the substitute for a penis. (Personally, I think the people who should be ashamed of themselves are the manufacturers of the flag shorts and bikini - that's flag desecration!)

Getting back to the original poster - I like women, or should I say, I like a lot of individual women for various reasons. I also think commercialized sex has a lot of problems - the puritanism of American society has a lot to do with the degrading nature of a significant portion of porn and sexual content in society. Producers of porn know that their audience believes that what they're doing is wrong, sinful, and illegal in many places....so why not go all the way with depravity?

I would like to see more porn that's creative and shows people enjoying themselves in sexual encounters. That's what turns me on. Puritanism stifles that and makes the producers think that they're outlaws for producing that, and consciously producing works with degrading treatment of women to go after the market of men afraid of women.

how many passed by the newspaper? 03.Jul.2006 01:18


Healthy acknowledgement of human sexuality in general society is a precarious balancing act. Puritanism is bad, particularly as it affects children who as a consequence of it, don't have a chance to see the world for themselves and decide their own course in life.

Lack of sexual responsibility in society allows allows the establishment of an environment where extreme levels of exploitation of everyone can occur, but easily, women and children are the greater victims in such a situation.

"Producers of porn know that their audience believes that what they're doing is wrong, sinful, and illegal in many places....so why not go all the way with depravity?"

Well, some of their audience think, which makes them all the better catalyst for the market made of those who think otherwise. And of course, many of the puritanical often conspicuously break ranks, making them the market for the most rotten kinds of porn.

Many people beleive porn is just a healthy acknowledgement of human sexuality. Many of them even know how to use it responsibly, and in a healthy way. Some even think of it as art. Maybe it is.

That continuum gets stretched pretty far though. Has. So business begins to get away, under the guise of "freedom of expression" you understand, with the most destructive kinds of mercenary exploitation porn, at first in discreetly transacted ways, but gradually, as societal anxiety towards it is countered, in subtle mainstream ways, like your crummy mercury rag lying blatantly on the sidewalk.

The porn business has brought many people to that increasingly less rarified state of mind that considers ever more extreme kinds of porn a natural, healthy outlet for the relief of sexual pressure. It's kind of hard to see much of any of that as art.

Of course, the merc cover photo itself isn't really that big a deal. It just blows in general. But it's presence, and the fact that some presumably somewhat liberal person would raise a fuss about it on the "radical" website, gives an idea of how responsible sexual acknowledgement in society is deteriorating.

Okay... 03.Jul.2006 20:15

Frankie aaron@foodsinseason.com

I don't know...whith the Like it or Love it slogan, the red, white and blue, and the overall composition, I feel that they were making fun of typical American patriotic patriarchal society. Did I misinterpret that?

to frankie 04.Jul.2006 12:03


I would consider the cover irony. The thing that is annoying about irony is that it toys with symbols without out taking any kind of political stand. (There are some exceptions to this, where it actually can make a point really well). What bugs me with the mercury's use of irony is that it FLIRTS with the subject matter for the sake of being hip, but then lacks the vision to go any further. It is actually really derivitive too if you just want to make comentary on its artistic value, but that is not my point.

In a counrty where nobody seems to have their head screwed on straight, and we are guilty of war crimes, I do not think we have the leasure to sit back and have a laugh about it all..... The mercury is a smug, self satisfied peice of shit.

submitter...you have way too much time on your hands , but... 04.Jul.2006 15:06


Two things...

The Portland Mercury's tone is just an act, repeat it with me again...IT IS JUST AN ACT. The slant of the publication sends a message, see?....you're supposed to look at all the insults ever printed outright or implied and decide for yourself if it deserves to be taken seriously or not, or if the inflammatory rhetoric is useful to you in showing you the ways of social niceties...what attitudes you keep and what attitudes you dump.

Second...maybe the implied sexual position in the picture means that the woman prefers her pleasure that way as well...did you ever think of that, submitter? (You aren't one of the older lesbians from Full Circle Temple, are you?)

don't worry, be happy 04.Jul.2006 15:39


wow, you sure overreacted! don't you have anything better to get upset about? i mean, think of all the poor puppies and kitties who don't have homes? and what about all the young hipster boys working at Music Millenium who can't afford to rent the upscale escorts? now that's something to be upset about! seriously, women getting raped and abused in and out of pornography is No Big Deal, i mean cos it happens every day and nobody ever writes about it. i think you just need to relax and enjoy the misogyny of daily pdx life. don't you know how good you have it, living in America, where we rank 17th in gender equity? you could live in a country like south africa where 1 in 4 women get raped, instead of only 1 in 6 like it is here!
besides, isn't Mt. Hood soooo pretty?

Zllah 04.Jul.2006 20:19


Nothing about that picture indicates the way that anyone prefers their pleasure. There is absolutely nothing to substantiate that - it is only two people posing in a certain position. She doesn't have a speech bubble that says "hey I like this!"

Rather, it is the position itself which is the substantial, noticeable statement. It portrays the woman as an object, to be used for entertainment and gratification - and the man as the consumer, the one with the power to enjoy, the customer who is always right.

BTW public service announcement - it's considered a fallacy to attack the character of your opponent as a supplement to your arguments.

jizz 04.Jul.2006 20:54


irony? or just the same ol' shit?

Does she like it? What about him? Does he like it? 05.Jul.2006 05:45


Why all this focus on whether the women in the picture likes what is being done to her? It's the guy in the photograph who likes it, the photographer who likes it and all the hipster men out there who this cover is aimed at who LOVE IT.

Always hiding behind the women these guys who love their porn. They should come out and admit it - they need to see women in sexually degrading positions to feel good. If anybody doesn't believe this is a degrading position, imagine seeing George Bush in it and how much we'd all laugh. In fact, if you are a man, every time you look at porn imagine yourself in the woman's position. Double anal doesn't seem so much fun that way does it?

Oh brother 18.Jul.2006 14:45

Working Class Mama

Yes, yes, the irony, the sarcasm, it's not lost on me. I get it. Depict men dominating women in a patriotic context because obvious sexism is generally assumed by a few to be obviously uncool and it's in the end lampooning patriotic people. If someone takes it seriously, well the jokes on them. I get it.
The thing is that this inside-humorism, sarcasm, irony, is not understood by most. As more and more people are desensetized to this kind of imagery and modes of thinking(don't forget that sexism, racism, etc are the dominant culture) the effects of them and the effected people become trivialized and even funny to those who are least effected by it. The thinking usually runs something like this: how can you be offended or bothered by people like that? they're such a joke.
Well they're only a joke if you are not seriously effected by them. Many people who enjoy this type of humor are quite priviledged and sheltered from sexism, racism, etc. So they are free and comfortable to laugh it all off and never bother with trying to understand how deeply womyn, people of color, etc are really effected or what they may be doing to contribute to the problem. They may even consider themselves to be doing something about it by (what they think is)lampooning the isms, thus excusing themselves from their role in it. But the people being lampooned will not be offended in the slightest, it's over their head. The effect is actually opposite, as those offended are far more likely to be those who are oppressed by how common place such imagery is in this white, male dominated culture.