"We cannot continue because we know reform does not work." 


The ultra-progressive bookstore that was famously spoofed on the IFC comedy "Portlandia" closed down Thursday, citing its own entrenched culture of "white supremacy."

In a statement last month ​announcing its shuttering, In Other Words mentioned financial troubles. But the store and "feminist community center" said the fundamental problem was that it could not shake the ideology instilled by its founders. 


"We cannot continue because we know reform does not work," the statement said. "The current volunteers and board members stepped into and took over a space that was founded on white, cis feminism (read: white supremacy). It’s really difficult, actually, impossible, for us to disentangle from that foundational ideology."


The store also blamed "Patriarchy, White Supremacy, Capitalism," saying the institutions "cannot be reformed and ever serve the people. Abolition is the goal."


In Other Words was founded in 1993 by a Portland State University sociologist and two women’s health activists, ​according to the Wall Street Journal. It was propped up by an exclusive contract to sell textbooks for Portland State women's studies courses. When in 2010, that arrangement ended as the result of federal legislation that undermined such monopolies, the store fell into debt. 


The store then ​rebranded as a “a safer space where women, people of color, queer, trans, gender variant folks, workers, and those who live at the intersections of these identities can organize for self-determination and build a sustainable movement for liberation.” 


In Other Words did not make life easy for its customers. It was only open a few days a week and was staffed by volunteers. Inside the store, seven "guidelines" dictated behavior, including: “Cishetero-patriarchy exists, white supremacy exists, ableism exists, racism exists, colonialism never ended, capitalism is bad. This is not a space where we argue about the basics of the situation.”


The store made some income as a filming location for a "Portlandia" sketch about self-righteously progressive feminist booksellers. But the arrangement ended in 2016, with In Other Words ​accusing the TV show of, among other things, being "trans-antagonistic and trans-misogynist," racist, not funny, and contributing to gentrification


A "Fuck Portlandia" sign was hung in the store window. 

"How progressive is too progressive?" is a question being debated well beyond Portland, including in relation to the ​Women's March and the ​#MeToo movement

Relevant cultural related controversies have recently included a feminist professor showing up to a Cambridge University function in a breast-revealing outfit, actor Zac Efron sporting dreadlocks, Scarlett Johannson playing a trans man, and a Utah high schooler wearing a Chinese dress to prom.


Politics have not been immune either. Democrats have been debating whether theirs is the party of democratic socialist congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or centrist Rep. Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania. 


In its closing announcement, In Other Words put out a call for one last round of volunteers to come help. For those who could not be there in person, the store suggested making an online donation.