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A Tale Of Three Cities. Made Of Cola.

sympathy, bad news, unhappy, modern, serious
On the train into work, I asked my wife suddenly "What's the third cola?"

I explained that I was trying to come up with an analogy for bisexual invisibility. Some people assume everyone they see is straight, unless they look gay. Others would look around the carriage and think "Straight, gay, straight straight, gay, gay, god knows". But few people look at a stranger and when they think "Straight" or "Gay" actually mentally add "or bisexual", especially not to both cases.

It's like Coke and Pepsi, I said. The big two are so well marketed that everyone assumes there isn't a third.

She pulled a face then. "Don't use that as an analogy for bisexuality! Other colas are disgusting - no-one likes them! You thinking of supermarket colas, right? Weird stuff."

I laughed and suggested Tab. Coke and Pepsi are so popular that people forget there are other brand names, that have followings, have fans, thousands and thousands of them.

But this is the thing - people forget to list them. Worse, it doesn't occur to them that it's a list, or that the list can be longer than two. If it's not Coke, it's Pepsi, and if it's not Pepsi it's Coke. It's the same with sexuality - people aren't forgetting the third (and fourth and so on) from the list because they've been brought up to not think of it as a list. It's a pair. It's one or the other.

Brokeback Mountain Dew?

Female partners are ignored if a man has a male lover. If a prominent politician is suspected of having a same-sex affair, the question "Is he gay" is deflected with "He and his wife have always seemed a perfectly happy couple." It's not that people are deliberately not asking "Is he bisexual?" - the question doesn't occur to them at all. You'd rather have Dr. Pepper?

Media tropes feed into this - 'the gay man who gets married in order to hide his sexuality'. It's like changing the label on the cola - it's still one of the two.

Much later, still wondering if it'd make a good analogy, I looked up online the cola wars. Turns out the big two are actually now Coke and Diet Coke. Pepsi is the third cola.

But I think I'd shy away from suggesting the big two sexualities were Straight and Diet-Straight, or even Gay and Diet-Gay.

So maybe I won't make a soda analogy, I'll just post about how I'm not going to.


( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 13th, 2011 11:47 am (UTC)
I think I like Dr Pepper best.
But anyway.
Oct. 13th, 2011 11:50 am (UTC)
I'm an Irn Bru girl, myself. I dread to think what sort of perversion that might represent.
Oct. 13th, 2011 11:55 am (UTC)
Made in Scotland, from girders. Unpronounceable too!
Oct. 13th, 2011 11:57 am (UTC)
I just thought it meant I fancied redheads...
Oct. 13th, 2011 12:03 pm (UTC)
How about Jolt cola (the hacker's favourite? ;-)
Oct. 13th, 2011 12:18 pm (UTC)
Someone hacker-ish (I suspect hirez) was posting about a drink called ClubMate which is made from yerba mate (um, that should be pronounced mah-tay, can't get the accent to work), which is apparently popular in European hacker circles and has just become available over here.
Oct. 13th, 2011 01:04 pm (UTC)
Ah! Topic drift in 2 posts. I love it ;-)
Oct. 13th, 2011 12:37 pm (UTC)
If a prominent politician is suspected of having a same-sex affair, the question "Is he gay" is deflected with "He and his wife have always seemed a perfectly happy couple." It's not that people are deliberately not asking "Is he bisexual?" - the question doesn't occur to them at all.

Yeah, I've been thinking about that this week, too. Not that you were making any sort of topical reference at all, I'm sure ;-)

How about iPhone/Blackberry/Android for your analogy? So much of the reaction to this week's RIM server failure has been "haha get an iPhone", as if that was the only other option. I think I saw one Android mention in the "Dear Blackberry" twitter stream yesterday, compared to literally hundreds of iPhone ones.
Oct. 13th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC)
And the pathetic thing is, it's a topical reference that keeps happening.
Oct. 13th, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
Heh. I had my mum yesterday grilling me about Fox and Werrity, on the grounds I probably knew them. Turned out she'd read about the unnamed man in Fox's house, then misread the name of Werrity's company as 'BiCon' so clearly must be related...

My first reaction to the Coke analogy was thinking about when you go to a pub/Pizza Hut and ask for a Coke and they say "Pepsi do?" and don't wait for an answer, on the grounds they're the same. If only all sexuality could be as simple as if one option isn't available, others are just as good...
Oct. 13th, 2011 12:56 pm (UTC)
dangerous analogy
For a few years Virgin cola was the third (and by far the best tasting), but its manufacture turned out to be just a phase.
Oct. 13th, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC)
Re: dangerous analogy
Where is the 'like' button on this?
Oct. 13th, 2011 01:06 pm (UTC)
What does Cherry Coke mean then?! That's my favourite. Kinky, bi and poly? :)
Oct. 13th, 2011 01:31 pm (UTC)
RC Cola. But probably no-one over here gets that.
Oct. 13th, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC)
Radio controlled cola? *puzzles*
Oct. 13th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
Oddly for something Minnesotans know about and British people don't seem to, the RC in this case stands for Royal Crown...
Oct. 13th, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
That was my immediate thought!
Oct. 13th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
Why am I now singing R.E.M.'s "Orange Crush" to myself...
Oct. 13th, 2011 02:49 pm (UTC)
No, no; it's not colas you want; it's computers :) Nothing reminds me of the false dichotomy so much as that stupid "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac" thing.
Oct. 13th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
So we're linux. Not sure that sells it any better... (c;
Oct. 13th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
Aw, c'mon! No viruses!
Oct. 13th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
Bit nerdy and hard to get into but once you've tried us you'll never go back... hmm!
Oct. 13th, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
hard to get into

Speak fer yerself love.
Oct. 13th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
I think it fits very well with the on-a-shoestring, DIY, endlessly-hackable vibe I get from "the bi community."

Underdocumented, as well.
Oct. 14th, 2011 12:05 pm (UTC)
I was going to say underdocumented (srsly, Ubuntu, help files?) but thought I'd get lots of Linux nerds jumping on me.
Oct. 14th, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC)
Nerds don't care about documentation. If they did, this wouldn't be such a problem ;)

(they can jump on me if they like; I've been using Linux pretty much exclusively since 2002 (or, they can just jump on me if they're pretty and need an excuse ;) )
Oct. 14th, 2011 09:01 am (UTC)
vi or emacs
Oct. 14th, 2011 12:07 pm (UTC)
I've just remembered there is also a cola called Ubuntu.
Oct. 13th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
personally I'm Fentimans curiosity cola - so ner ;-p
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 13th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
My dear husband tells me that Virgin cola was just RC Cola (see above comments by US expats) under another name.
Oct. 13th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
I've had both and they didn't taste the same to me. (The last place you could easily get Virgin cola was on Virgin airlines, unsurprisingly.)

From what I understand, RC cola in the States is drunk primarily by southerners and ethnic minorities ("RC and moonpies!"), so if you want to push the analogy a wee bit further you might find some mileage in that.

Oct. 13th, 2011 11:35 pm (UTC)
I always liked Larkspur cola best but they only make lemonade now. Its a bit geeky but maybe Apple/Windows/Linux is the way to go?
Oct. 15th, 2011 03:58 pm (UTC)
Tea or coffee? (This probably leaves us with the odd look reserved for people who prefer non-tea herbal infusions or cocoa in the morning.)
Oct. 18th, 2011 11:17 am (UTC)
I can't help thinking of Dr Pepper as Bisexuality. So many of the Ad slogans seem to fit :-D

1940s: "Good For Life."
1977–1983: "I'm a Pepper, He's a Pepper, We're a Pepper.", "Be a Pepper.", "Wouldn't you like to Be a Pepper too?"
c. 1984 "Out of the Ordinary. Like You."
2000: "Dr Pepper, It Makes the World Taste Better."
2002–2004: "Be You."
2002–Present: "Solves All Your Problems." (used in Europe)
2003 "Dr Pepper, to try it is to love it" (used in the UK)
2004–Present "Dr Pepper, what's the worst that could happen?" (used in the UK)

And so on...
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )