Boycotts and Pepsi

(Upon re-reading, this post kinda reeks of middle-class privilege. So… yeah. I’m working on that.)

I’m entirely sold on boycotts. Sometimes, they work spectacularly, then there are ones that have been going on for decades with little sign of progress.

(Note: I am not directly comparing these two, except that they were both, y’know, boycotts.)

Sometimes, I think boycotts serve as a way to make you feel like you’re doing more than you are, especially when it may or may not be a product you use that much. (I’m currently, say, technically boycotting Jamaica because of the rampant homophobia and violence against gays, but since I don’t drink Red Stripe nor plan on going to Jamaica anyway, it’s not making a damn bit of difference either way.) And in some cases, boycotts may prevent people from interacting directly with something problematic and attempting to fix it by just cutting ties.

But what I do like about boycotts is the simplicity. You don’t approve of something, you quit giving it money. In the US that means hitting it where it hurts, right in the wallet. Of course, I’m also a great believer in sending angry letters to places to let them know you’re boycotting them and why. Otherwise, that $5.75 or whatever they’re not getting from you may pass unnoticed. But boycotts also have the virtue of making you stick to your convictions, especially in cases where doing so makes it harder for you.

I’m thinking about boycotts because I just found out about AMP UP YOUR GAME, an iPhone App released by PepsiCo to promote Amp energy drink. This App allows you to “improve your game” by identifying which of “24 types” of women you’re dealing with, giving you “tips” to help you “score” with each, and then allowing you to track and share “conquests” (seriously, it’s call the Brag List) with your (presumably all-male) friends through Twitter and Facebook.


Where to start… Okay, I hate the idea it’s a “game.” Because that means there are winners and losers, and I always get the feeling the women are losing. Or “conquest.” I’m not a conquest, I’m a person. Maybe these guys would have better luck if they thought of women as people instead of rewards/conquests. I’m also reasonably sure there are more than 24 types of women, also, that women don’t all fit into types…. again, it’s attempting to depersonalize women and turn them into categories with predictable behaviors, with whom if you do the right thing, you get sex. Kind of like putting quarters into a gumball machine. (Types, by the way, include “Aspiring Actress,” “Cougar,” “Out of your League,” and, of course, “Women’s Studies Major.”) And the problem with treating women like sex dispensers (one of the problems) is that it encourages an understanding where if they don’t “give you” sex, it’s their fault. The machine’s broken. Because by your limited definition, you’ve done everything right, and if it’s not putting out, you need to shake the machine ’til it drops that Vagina bar you paid for.

And then you can share your Brag List with your buds, who are clearly all-male, because what would you be doing hanging out with a woman, and again, reinforcing the heteronormative He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut dichotomy where all that matters is notches in the bedpost for the guys, and the women are interchangeable, disposable objects.

Of course, homosexuality is completely absent from the equation. Men who like men? Girls who don’t like men? Preposterous!

Girls who might like to be actively engaged in their own sexuality, instead of hanging around waiting to be “gamed” by clever males with iPhone Apps? Preposterous!

I have no idea if the marketing team, or Amp, or PepsiCo are as miscogynistic and homophobic as this app suggests. Likely, they’re not. Which means that encouraging this behavior is all part of a cynical marketing ploy, which kinda makes it worse.

So I, a lifelong Pepsi drinker, am now boycotting their products. It will probably make no damn difference to PepsiCo. But the knowledge that every time I bought a twelve-pack, I would be supporting the assholes who think it’s okay to reduce me to an object to be acquired by their male heterosexual customers (the ones that actually matter, clearly) would have made it taste like shit anyway.

And yes, I’ve already written them an angry email letting them know that since they clearly don’t want my money, they won’t be getting any more of it.


2 Responses to “Boycotts and Pepsi”

  1. 13 October 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Great, well-written essay! I think it’s worth looking into the other brands that are part of the PepsiCo universe, and boycotting them, too. And writing them an angry letter telling them so. That means all the Pepsi products, Lipton tea, Sobe Beverages, AquaFina bottled water, Tropicana and Dole juices, Frito-Lay chips, Quaker products, Gatorade products.

    It’s a bigger boycott than just skipping your Mountain Dew.

    I occasionally pick up Maxim, to keep a finger on the pulse of the HetBoy culture, and I have to say, this kind of thing is disturbingly prevalent.

  2. 2 arthermit
    14 October 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Yeah, boycotting is a great deal more complex in a world where, apparently, five companies own *everything,* often under different names.

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