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Not ginger whingers!
February 13, 2009 12:43 AM   Subscribe

Bullied, teased, and in need of a refuge? Photographer Jenny Wicks' new project, Root Ginger, asks the question: Is gingerism one of the last acceptable prejudices?
posted by Grrlscout (129 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I had never heard the term "ginger" until recently. I did have a friend from England who claimed his brother, just like their paternal grandfather, was slightly kooky because of red hair. It thought it was harmless and amusing. But now the world has gone mad.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:45 AM on February 13, 2009


I have red hair, or at least it used to be red before most of it turned white. I don't recall ever feeling as if I was on the receiving end of prejudice. I do know that I'm not very good looking and that some women who dated me did so because of my hair, despite my face. It's exotic and redheads are even more rare than natural blondes.

And as KokoRyu says, I never heard of the term "ginger" until just recently. Apparently that's a term used in the UK.
posted by Class Goat at 12:50 AM on February 13, 2009


"lookist"

please don't do that
posted by regicide is good for you at 12:51 AM on February 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sorry Ranga.
posted by robcorr at 12:56 AM on February 13, 2009


It very much seems like something UK specific, not just the term "ginger", but the bullying/etc to that extent. I've never lived in the UK, and I've never had any experience of being bullied or teased because of my (beautiful) red hair. I have had a few joking remarks from English people I've met, and it does seem to be part of popular culture as well with references in TV series and so on.
posted by bjrn at 12:56 AM on February 13, 2009


I can assure you it's not UK specific.
posted by pompomtom at 12:58 AM on February 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh for fuck's sake. You mean I can't take the piss out of gingers now? What's left?
posted by MrMustard at 12:58 AM on February 13, 2009


I vote for a campaign along the lines of "black is beautiful". Redheaded and freckled is my favorite phenotype. Mores the pity nothing rhymes with orange...
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 1:02 AM on February 13, 2009


Ugh, Silverlight. Here's a YouTube version of Sorry Ranga.
posted by robcorr at 1:02 AM on February 13, 2009


Catherine Tate is awesome!
posted by troybob at 1:05 AM on February 13, 2009


Do countries where people make fun of gingers also have blonde jokes?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:06 AM on February 13, 2009


We do in Australia.
posted by robcorr at 1:09 AM on February 13, 2009


Oh for fuck's sake. You mean I can't take the piss out of gingers now? What's left?

Evil and mean people of all stripes; they have plenty of piss to spare.
posted by JHarris at 1:35 AM on February 13, 2009


Wow. I thought the "ginger" thing was invented by South Park.
posted by shii at 1:39 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Insanity! Red hair is totally hot. In my own personal and entirely scientific way of ranking physical appearance, the presence of red hair automatically kicks one's score up like two notches.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:46 AM on February 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


I never saw this in the U.S., where, if anything, it seems that it's admired - in women, especially - as something unusual and beautiful. Has anyone here experienced bullying because of red hair in the U.S.? How about Canada? From pompomtom's comment, I assume that Australia is no safe haven for redheads.

I wonder how Elizabeth I would feel about this ginger bullying?
posted by taz at 1:52 AM on February 13, 2009


I love redheads. They tend to be kinky as well, which is a double bonus.

On the level of kids though, I think it's just that redheads stand out more. Among kids, any feature that distinguishes you makes you ripe for insult.

Mmm, Alison Hannigan. Daddy likes.
posted by bardic at 1:59 AM on February 13, 2009


Never really seen this in NZ. I guess I could ask my red-headed friends if they have.
posted by rodgerd at 2:50 AM on February 13, 2009


1. Red hair is hot.
2. The phrase "the last acceptable prejudice", particularly when used by people who are not the targets of systemic bigotry but are instead simply looking for attention, is goddamn infuriating.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:52 AM on February 13, 2009 [20 favorites]


Red hair is totally hot.

True dat. It's only fair that they get picked on as kids, because they grow up to be so completely and utterly gorgeous that it's a kind of fair distribution of misery.

Males of the species, though, have no purpose whatsoever. They should be culled after birth.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:52 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think gingerism is exactly rife even in the UK, or wasn't until recently. I never heard of it at school, although pretty much anything else would attract derision. Of course as a non-ginge myself I defer to the experience of redheads.

The stereotype of the ginger personality so far as I was aware until recently was one of cheerful, good-natured recklessness - on the whole a rather positive characterisation. My red-haired relations tell me that on the whole it appears to be viewed as an attractive feature in women and unattractive in men.

The same relations tell me that in Japan and in parts of Africa flaming red hair can get you almost mobbed (in a not unfriendly way).
posted by Phanx at 2:55 AM on February 13, 2009


"Males of the species, though, have no purpose whatsoever. They should be culled after birth."

To wit, Rick Astley.
posted by bardic at 3:01 AM on February 13, 2009


Pope Guilty - I saw a group of guys throw rocks at a teenage kid because he was ginger. Didn't know each other at all... just thought it would be fun to do because the guy was ginger. (As in red headed, no idea about his sexual preference)

If I told you that a group of guys threw rocks at a Pakistani kid who happened to just randomly be in the same area, would you find it more or less acceptable?

Meant to post a link to the gingerism site in the OP...
posted by Grrlscout at 3:02 AM on February 13, 2009


I never got any grief at school that I can recall, though I'm not a full-on ginge (red hair but dark eyebrows). That might have been because my eldest brother (similar colouring) was a feared hard case (who grew up to work as a nurse) rather than an absence of the prejudice though. It does seem to have got worse since then though, partly as other prejudics have become less acceptable, but you suspect the underlying problem is the dynamics of bullying and this is just one of the few remaining convenient outlets.
posted by Abiezer at 3:31 AM on February 13, 2009


Gingers would get teased a lot less if they didn't cheat at cards, tell lies and curdle milk. Fact.

What the Guardian article alludes to but doesn't make clear is that in the UK, gingerism has historically come from anti-celt attitudes. I don't think gingerism is the "last acceptable prejudice" in the workplace if you want to keep your job. Well certainly not where I work: the HR Director is a carrot top.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:08 AM on February 13, 2009 [4 favorites]



Males of the species, though, have no purpose whatsoever. They should be culled after birth.

I couldn't disagree more. I think guys with red hair are hot. They definitely start out with an advantage in my book.

I went through a red hair phase in my twenties, and from what I can recall, it seemed to get me a bit more attention than when I was a brunette, but not as much as when I was blonde.

In the US we usually call them redheads, in Australia, they are called Gingers. Took me a while to get used to the 'Ginger' thing, but it appears as if it's catching on a bit in the US.
The same with the phrase 'chesty cough'. I needed this one explained to me last Australian winter, but this year, I see it mentioned on a US TV commercial.
posted by newpotato at 4:16 AM on February 13, 2009


There is something defective in the English character. I suspect it derives from status anxiety in a strictly hierarchical culture, the same as Southern racism. The bottom rungs of society, the "chavs", if you will, can't accept their station, so they pick an easy historical target to bully, as if the act of harassment somehow elevates them.

Let the shiftless and uneducated know their place. Kick a chav today.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 4:42 AM on February 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


The bottom rungs of society, the "chavs", if you will, can't accept their station

What are you talking about, man? Us chavs can make our own babies at the age of 12. Lets see some of those middle class poofter kids accomplish something as manly as that!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:49 AM on February 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, bastard English! Let's all say they're defective - that'll teach 'em to be prejudiced!
posted by Phanx at 4:52 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


For every kid who made fun of me as a child for my red hair, there is now a man who hits on me because of it. The amount of teasing I endured as a kid has made it near impossible for me to accept compliments on my hair even now. But I can't say I've ever experiences any real prejudice here in the US. Although, when I get angry somebody inevitably blames it on my hair. That's a bit annoying.
posted by MaritaCov at 5:30 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


As if saying "red hair is hot" is not a form of prejudice, part of a system of objectification and exploitation.

As if your tired broke-ass fetshisms of yet another form of whiteness isn't, well, tired and broke-ass.
posted by mistersquid at 5:32 AM on February 13, 2009


Is gingerism one of the last acceptable prejudices?

If loving Mary-Ann is a crime, lock me up.
posted by rokusan at 5:34 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was coming over here to post this as a FPP but now I see I've been beaten like a

oh
wait
posted by Spatch at 5:39 AM on February 13, 2009 [4 favorites]




And with increased focus on the importance of physical attractiveness, many in HR believe workplaces are becoming 'lookist'.

Some people it could be said are lookist, but you could never say they were smartist.
posted by nola at 5:40 AM on February 13, 2009



As if saying "red hair is hot" is not a form of prejudice, part of a system of objectification and exploitation.

As if your tired broke-ass fetshisms of yet another form of whiteness isn't, well, tired and broke-ass.


So now we're not allowed to be attracted to one particular look over another? Sheesh. Take a pill, mistersquid
posted by newpotato at 5:42 AM on February 13, 2009 [10 favorites]


Anecdotal data point of one here, red hair can get you seriously bullied in Sweden as well, but then so do glasses, braces, being overweight and any other visual or noticable (think lisp) thing that kids can pick on. It's not like in the UK where they have bizarre expressions like "as popular as a ginger stepson". It's quite a different feeling being red over there.

Also, redheaded lads are hot, but rare, over here, we tend to have more strawberry blonds & platinums to pick from, also hot by the way. ;) I'm like a moth attracted to the light (hair) getting weak in the knees when reds or platinums hit on me.
posted by dabitch at 5:42 AM on February 13, 2009


Murray: It's too dangerous out there at night.
Jemaine: We go around walking around at night all the time.
Murray: Well, you know, anything could happen. You could get run over, pickpocketed, um, fall down a manhole, bump into... people, murdered... Imagine that! Or even just ridiculed.
Jemaine: We've never been ridiculed.
Bret: No.
Murray: You haven't? Well, that's a surprise. I get ridiculed all the time.
Bret: Really?
Murray: Yep. "Ah hey... ginger balls!" you know.
Jermaine: That was Bret... he called you that.
Bret: Oh, the other night?
Murray: Well, it's not just you Bret, it's all the time, and it's not just ginger balls, you know?
Bret: I thought that was your nickname
Murray: No! I get umm... "Oh what are you on your way to a dick meeting?"
posted by Who_Am_I at 5:44 AM on February 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


MaritaCov! Yes, as soon as I loose my temper (the temper I've inherited from my brown haired hot headed father) it's all blamed on the hair. There's even an expression/old wives tale here that my own mother told me; people with red hair and green eyes are extremely hotheaded. (I have green eyes.)
posted by dabitch at 5:45 AM on February 13, 2009


As if saying "red hair is hot" is not a form of prejudice, part of a system of objectification and exploitation.

I just hate it when women objectify me as an object of lust.*

*Note: I'm not actually ginger, or have much hair of any colour left. But I'm willing to dye if you're willing to try.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:47 AM on February 13, 2009


In sympathy, let's send all the freckly, pasty gingers on holiday somewhere really hot and sunny. This will more than make up for any abuse they've suffered.
posted by davemee at 5:49 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


from my experience of London, hair color is just one of the long list of things that cause the English to laugh nervously. It does seem to be part of their class anxiety.
posted by bhnyc at 5:49 AM on February 13, 2009


Growing up, my hair was fire engine red. Just glowing. And yes, I was the subject of bullying and ridicule. I'm still covered in freckles. (photo in profile) I never understood why they called me "carrot top" since carrot tops are green. "I'd rather be dead than red on the head."
Etc.

Also, why is it that three of the words that have no rhyme are colors?
Orange, Purple, and Silver.
posted by Balisong at 5:56 AM on February 13, 2009


Like many U.S. people here, I was unaware of anti-ginger sentiment.

Though maybe I should have picked up on it through this cat macro meme.
http://community.livejournal.com/cat_macros/2550960.html
http://community.livejournal.com/cat_macros/1686451.html
http://community.livejournal.com/cat_macros/1695414.html
http://community.livejournal.com/cat_macros/3933603.html
posted by samsm at 5:56 AM on February 13, 2009


bhnyc: I don't think we've officially made gingers an underclass here in London yet.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:57 AM on February 13, 2009


Has anyone here experienced bullying because of red hair in the U.S.? How about Canada?

We are considering making November 20th National 'Kick a Ginger Day'.
posted by gman at 6:09 AM on February 13, 2009


I remember this ginger kid at school and you'd ask him if he really had ginger pubes and you'd get the typical ginger explosion of anger.

It's a heartbreaking thing really.

Here's a useful link to a charity for kids suffering from gingervitis.
posted by dydecker at 6:10 AM on February 13, 2009


Maybe it's just me, but I think gingers are hot.
posted by SPUTNIK at 6:12 AM on February 13, 2009


1) People like to form little tribes because, well, on our own most of us would be dead in a day or two. A few exceptional individuals might make it a whole year.

2) Because there aren't to many saber toothed cats running around, life is kind of dull sometimes, so we try to spice it up with some level of conflict or violence. Since we already have Us, we try to find a them. Sometimes there is something at stake, say a vital resource, but usually there isn't so we have to make something up.

3) Certain made up things to be in conflict over have become passe with overuse, so we keep having to find new things.

Personally, I cut out the whole "find something to be in conflict over" part and just beat my friends with sticks.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:12 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've heard that anti-"ginger" sentiments run strong in Russia, too, and carries with it a notion of being untrustworthy. So much so that in the mid-90s a very qualified candidate for the premiership (whose name escapes me right now) was perceived as being virtually unelectable on account of his red hair.
posted by AwkwardPause at 6:17 AM on February 13, 2009


Any British red-haired girls who feel oppressed by their country's attitude towards their hair color should know that I've got all kinds of safe, non-judgmental room for'em at my place. I can absolutely promise they won't get bullied, but they might get photographed.
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:23 AM on February 13, 2009


Yeah, I thought "Ginger" was totally a southpark invention as well.
posted by delmoi at 6:28 AM on February 13, 2009


Bullies will generally look for any reason to pick on someone, so I guess red hair would be easily noticeable, but I don't remember any red haired kids getting any more teasing than anyone else. If it's UK-specific, could it possibly be connected to anti-Irish catholic prejudices, since the Irish stereotype includes red hair and freckles?

/mom and grandma are redheads, but that's from the Italian side of the family, not the Irish.
posted by jonmc at 6:29 AM on February 13, 2009


My three-month-old daughter has red hair, just like her mother. I'm pleased. It means that no one will ever mistake her for an Italian.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:29 AM on February 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Woah! How odd!
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:30 AM on February 13, 2009


Huh. I spend a lot of time and money trying to get (and keep) my hair red. I'd kill to have it just grow out of my head like that.

I am familiar enough with Brit pop culture to have heard "ginger" used as slang, but I always thought it was more like a general slur about someone's lack of manliness.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:31 AM on February 13, 2009


I blame south park for this!!!! ..... Actually no I don't. They are not racist. They hate on everyone and everything equally.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:33 AM on February 13, 2009


Don't know about systematic prejudice or anything, but I'll just offer my personal experience (this is in the US). I don't think I was bullied as a kid, but it was definitely something that was pointed out by classmates and etc. But that's what kids do, and so whatever.

The thing that gets me looking back at being a kid with red hair (as a now adult with red hair) is how comfortable *adults* were at pointing it out. Neither of my parents have red hair, which I think affects this, and so I can think of loads of times being out with one or both of them and an adult stopping by and saying harmless sounding things like, "Well where did you get that red hair?" And of course there's a million readings of that conversation, but it definitely left me as a kid with a sense of:

1. I'm different enough that people, adults, feel the need to point it out to me, a child, on a regular (I don't know, weekly? It would happen while shopping, eating, anywhere in public.) basis.

and

2. Are these maybe not my real parents?

As an adult, I get it pointed out maybe a few times a month, most often in elevators. People are complimentary, but I really just never know what to say in return. I know a simple "Thanks" is probably the most appropriate, but I'm always still so confused I end up trying to make a stupid joke and failing. My sense (as a not tall person) is that this is similar to how tall people feel about people pointing that out to them.

Also, re: UK, I watch a lot of English football, and hearing the commentators call Paul Scholes "the ginger prince" always kind of gets to me in some way I'm not quite self-aware enough to explain.
posted by dyobmit at 6:35 AM on February 13, 2009


As a youth, I remember being absolutely stunned that a few freckles could be a subject of embarrassment. I reckoned, and still do, that freckles were a hotness multiplier make-upping over them makes as much sense to me as throwing a tarp over flowers.
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:45 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was born a blond little kid, and my hair has grown darker with age. But for some kooky reason, my facial hair has a distinct red tint - not as vivid as the wonderful photo series, but you can tell there is some red. Neither parent is red-headed, and I don't think I have any red-heads near in the family tree. It's odd.

I'd like to say "ginger" was a term I've heard in the US prior to that South Park episode, but I'm not sure. The only really derogatory red-head term I've heard is the "beaten like a red-headed step-child," and I never really understood the phrase, though it could well stem from the distrust of the Celts.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:51 AM on February 13, 2009


Any British red-haired girls who feel oppressed by their country's attitude towards their hair color should know that I've got all kinds of safe, non-judgmental room for'em at my place.

That's a bit on the creepy side.
posted by smackfu at 6:52 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


lol, gingervitis... I've only ever found it funny, never met anyone who truly thought red hair was repulsive. I might think against going to Russia now though. It's been more my experience to have to beat the redhead-obsessed boys off with a stick.

Seriously, does anyone know a person who truly hates/fears gingers?
posted by lizbunny at 6:52 AM on February 13, 2009


reading it back, yeah .... no more posting first thing in the morning ... my bad
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:53 AM on February 13, 2009


Is this the thread where I get to ask "what's up with people claiming to be redheads?" Prime example: Conan O'Brien. Maybe at one point he had red hair, but it's definitely brownish now, with only the slightest reddishness in the highlights. Yet, every charactature or illustration of him has flaming red hair. Then again, I've known people whose hair went from blond to sandy brown and still claimed to be blondes. Maybe it's just avoiding the banality of brunettism?
posted by explosion at 6:58 AM on February 13, 2009


I am prejudicially more attracted to redheads than any other type. Does this make it an "acceptable prejudice?"

Dear Christina Hendricks, Don't let anyone make fun of you for your hair. I will love you forever.
posted by orville sash at 6:58 AM on February 13, 2009


I honestly didn't know it still existed anywhere... here in the US, I've got an ex who was pretty bright orange-red as a child, and when it started to turn strawberry-blond as she hit puberty, she started dying it back to redness and still does.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:04 AM on February 13, 2009


Heh. Yeah, dyobmit, I had the same experience — I get my red hair from my grandparents on both sides, not from either of my parents, and looking back I'm astonished at how many perfect strangers would ask me where it came from.

I asked my parents how to answer, and they suggested "it grew out of my head." I wish they'd gone for something snarkier like "the mailman," but then maybe that would have been a bad idea....
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:04 AM on February 13, 2009


If the term 'ginger is unknown in the US, that goes some way towards explaining the apparent anomaly of 'Ginger' Rogers. But what do you call ginger toms?
posted by Phanx at 7:19 AM on February 13, 2009


As if saying "red hair is hot" is not a form of prejudice, part of a system of objectification and exploitation.

As if your tired broke-ass fetshisms of yet another form of whiteness isn't, well, tired and broke-ass.


Common scold much?
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:19 AM on February 13, 2009


I find that saying something like "damn gingers! *shakes fist*" is used as a way of mocking other kinds of whatever-ism.

The only gingers I personally tease are two of my friends cats... but then they get snuggles.

So, the answer is to go hug the ginger after you throw your rock... this way, everyone wins.


I think?
posted by utsutsu at 7:20 AM on February 13, 2009


Count me among the ranks who wasn't aware of the term "ginger" until the South Park episode. Also, count me among the ranks of American men who are absolutely enamored of redhead women. I don't know if Gillian Anderson of Christina Hendricks read MeFi, but if you do, MeMail me! ;D
posted by m0nm0n at 7:28 AM on February 13, 2009


A friend of mine, transplanted from the UK, often spoke disparagingly of "gingers." It took me a while to realize she was referring to red hair. I don't often see ginger, but yes, I could sort of get that the nickname might come from the root. It was an odd mistrust she had, coupled with a touch of revulsion for the freak. I didn't have the heart to tell her that she was probably be more likely to be discriminated against in the US than your average redhead, her being black and all. People are funny all over.
posted by adipocere at 7:46 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I suspect it derives from status anxiety in a strictly hierarchical culture, the same as Southern racism.

It's an interesting theory, I've found in my youth in Southern America that the most bigoted and racist people were actually not on the lowest or highest rungs of society, but rather those in the middle and those that had moved to the community from elsewhere (mostly the North). The ones that are obsessed with the upward climb and/or forgetting where they are from are the ones that are the most likely to try and seek out fault in others either real or perceived through stereotyping in order to become dominant.

Being the child of an Episcopal priest gave me an interesting perspective there, though my father clearly (and visibly) made little money he (and by extention us as his family) was still afforded a high degree of societal status in the community heirarchy. This meant that the ignorant and bigoted children of the new money status climbers had no idea what to do with me. On one hand they felt compelled to try and destroy me as the penniless waif I was; failing to have the finest fashions the "big city" mall could offer. Further I had no athletic abilty whatsoever which was the only other means they knew to derive community status, yet somehow, me, the JC Penny clad, penniless weakling was always hanging around with the old monied set, invited to the lake house, tapped to "run" for student government (what? you didn't think these hierarchies reached down to that level?), literally given a pony to stable at some old antibellum plantation, all of those things that they were beating their heads against the wall (or more acurately, beating other people's heads against the wall) to achieve. Hell, I even took a black girl to the prom, lord, did they shit over that one!

Anyway, I digress, redheads are hot. I married one!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:53 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


As if saying "red hair is hot" is not a form of prejudice, part of a system of objectification and exploitation.

As if your tired broke-ass fetshisms of yet another form of whiteness isn't, well, tired and broke-ass.


6/10. A touch too strident but still semi-believable.
posted by MikeMc at 7:55 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to paint my bald head red so I can find out what it's like to be teased.
posted by digsrus at 7:58 AM on February 13, 2009


Also, why is it that three of the words that have no rhyme are colors?
Orange, Purple, and Silver.


Orange -

Door Hinge.

Ta-da!
posted by Windigo at 7:58 AM on February 13, 2009


People call you ginger balls. They call you ginger balls. Ginger balls!
posted by ND¢ at 8:04 AM on February 13, 2009


But what do you call ginger toms?

Orange cats?
posted by smackfu at 8:06 AM on February 13, 2009


Any British red-haired girls who feel oppressed by their country's attitude towards their hair color should know that I've got all kinds of safe, non-judgmental room for'em at my place. I can absolutely promise they won't get bullied, but they might get photographed.

Catherine Tate beat you to it...
posted by MikeMc at 8:09 AM on February 13, 2009


I can't believe that no one has mentioned my brother in hair color, Tim Minchin in this whole thread.
posted by crataegus at 8:10 AM on February 13, 2009


taz: growing up in WI I was definitely teased for being a redhead. It didn't hurt that in an elementary school of about 400 there were 4 redheads, 2 of whom were girls (who receive significantly less teasing than guys in my area, plus they were identical twins, so any teasing would be twin related rather than hair). Heck, I didn't even have a face covered in freckles.

I remember giving a speech in freshman English class and some lamer on the football team in the front row shouted "Oh my god; even his eyebrows are red!" to which everyone started laughing including the teacher. WTF; of course my eyebrows are red. The carpet matches the drapes without dye. My response of "Oh my god even your eyebrows are stupid." got a few laughs from the kids, but the teacher said *I* was the inappropriate one. One heckles someone giving a speech, and responding back without even cussing is inappropriate? Stupid flyover country and their worship of football.

I *hated* having red hair while young, but now as an adult I'm saddened that I've got light brown hair with only a tint of red. At the same time, I'm greatly relieved to no longer be called Red or Rusty by random strangers.
posted by nobeagle at 8:29 AM on February 13, 2009


Two questions:

Isn't there a law against workplace bullying in England?

Is ginger red? I only have seen whitish/yellow ginger.
posted by anniecat at 8:34 AM on February 13, 2009


Never even heard of this "ginger" thing until Flight of the Conchords.
posted by orme at 8:43 AM on February 13, 2009


holy crap, tempist in a teapot. it's time to stop bullying against little girls with pigtails. it's time to stop bullying boys with pocket protectors. it's time to stop bullying those with a weight problem. it's time to stop bullying those with glasses. it's time to stop bullying those with braces. it's time to stop bullying kids who have parents that make them buy lame shoes. it's time to stop bullying those kids who are incredibly tall for their age. it's time to stop bullying those kids who are short for their age. it's time to stop bullying girls who develop early. it's time to stop bullying boys who develop late.

seriously, tempest, teapot, pisspot "poor me" excuse on the scale of prejudices. poor little anne shirley is just like every other freaking kid of the block. they and we all had something about us that made us paranoid and a target.

a bully will find any reason to bully, and all of humanity sucks at all ages.
posted by eatdonuts at 8:52 AM on February 13, 2009


Seriously, does anyone know a person who truly hates/fears gingers?

When I was a kid, we used to taunt them with the claim that all ginger girls suffered from Vagina Dentata, but I don't think we really believed it.

Not that Vagina Dentata would be a disincentive, mind.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:56 AM on February 13, 2009


Also: Ginger
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:03 AM on February 13, 2009


Where does something like this even come from? Did it originate in some kind of anti-Irish sentiment in British society that gradually mutated?
posted by thewittyname at 9:17 AM on February 13, 2009


I am ever so slightly strawberry blonde, and very happy with it too. Whenever people say anything derogatory about it I put their stance down to jealousy.
posted by htotheizo at 9:23 AM on February 13, 2009


I hope that ginger on LOST is dead.


There. I said it. Her chracter is poorly written and awful.
posted by graventy at 9:25 AM on February 13, 2009


The redheaded genes came from Scandinavia and they're going back there too if I manage to get lucky on vacation this spring!
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 9:53 AM on February 13, 2009


While here in America, as many of the above posters have more than adequately proved, the bias is pro-female-redhead, I can offer two examples of negative bias. Both are sexist and offensive, so please skip the next paragraph if you are easily offended by, well, offensive material.

The famous example came about when that rich douche called Lindsey Lohan "firecrotch." What exact negative this is supposed to imply escapes me, but I guess it was considered quite the putdown. Another phrase, and this one is very offensive, was taught to me by one of my severely redneck friends from back home after I had started dating a redhead. The phrase is "red on the head like the dick of a dog." It's certainly vulgar, and I don't know what it means to say exactly, but I admire the poetry of it.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:05 AM on February 13, 2009


At least everyone likes gingerbeer.

Right? Right?
posted by gingerbeer at 10:19 AM on February 13, 2009


The fact that 1) anyone can take more than a passing interest in someone's hair color and complexion, let alone enough to actively torment him/her, and 2) that it's a prevalent enough phenomenon that it has to be called out as a macro-social issue, well.... Some days I feel like the whole lot of us should be summarily wiped off the face of the planet in some fit of absurdity equal to that of our ridiculous existence thereon.

Maybe I just need another cup of coffee.
posted by Brak at 10:23 AM on February 13, 2009


An Irish coffee?
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 10:34 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ginger coffee.
posted by owtytrof at 10:43 AM on February 13, 2009


Ginger coffee.

Skip the coffee and have a slug of ginger brandy. Ugh.
posted by MikeMc at 11:12 AM on February 13, 2009


When I was maybe twelve or so, this older guy on my school bus used to constantly ask me if there was "fire in the hole". I think it was April before I figured out what the fuck he was talking about. It was a more innocent time then.
posted by padraigin at 11:36 AM on February 13, 2009


Here is a good popular account of the famous 2004 experiment which set out to test the

commonly held clinical belief that people with red hair respond to medications differently from those with other hair colors. "Redheads are a 'tough knockout'" is a commonly heard aphorism among anesthesiologists

and found that 20% more anesthetic was required on average to anesthetize the redheads.

There's no real doubt in my mind that significant personality differences would result from differences in responses to endorphins that very well could go along with this.
posted by jamjam at 11:39 AM on February 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hmm, there's even a Wikipedia entry on the subject ...

Bullying is not one of humanity's best features. To me, a tolerance for bullying or teasing of any kind is a big tell for the person's character.

I'm looking at you, MrMustard :-).
posted by Araucaria at 11:58 AM on February 13, 2009


How weird, here in Australia the only people I've heard joke about redheads are redheads. I guess that means that they have been exposed to some form of 'gingerism' that I've never noticed.
The prettiest girl at my primary school was a girl with bright red (bordering on scarlet) hair and bright green eyes, with pale white skin. I always wanted to look like her. (Or the Irish girl I met one day...black hair, bright blue eyes, fair skin).
posted by jacalata at 12:15 PM on February 13, 2009


Catherine Tate:

When I rang up and initially said, 'I'm looking for a kitten,' they said we'll call back. So they did, but they said, 'Well, it's got a slight problem. It's got a prolapsed rectum.' And I said, 'What does that mean?' and they said, 'Its bottom... falls out. And sometimes you've got to push it back in.' So I said that thinking about it's making me feel ill, so I don't think that I'm the right person. Leave that one to a more experienced cat owner.
Next time they rang up, said they've got another cat, and I said great, but they said, 'It's got a problem.' I thought, what, don't you have any healthy cats? 'So what's the problem?'.
They said, 'It's ginger.'
posted by you're a kitty! at 12:25 PM on February 13, 2009


As if saying "red hair is hot" is not a form of prejudice, part of a system of objectification and exploitation.

Oh, I'm totally prejudiced in favor of red-haired people. I totally find them hot. I am comfortable with my fetish. And I am also totally prejudiced against the crazy-ass people who don't find them hot.

I'm not saying I'm not prejudiced - I'm saying that the people who aren't into red-heads have completely the wrong prejudice.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:35 PM on February 13, 2009


Catherine Tate has also covered prejudice against Scots.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:37 PM on February 13, 2009


"Males of the species, though, have no purpose whatsoever. They should be culled after birth."

To wit, Rick Astley.


I don't understand what your problem with Mr. Astley is --- If I recall correctly, he even turned out to have a good sense of humour re being turned into a dumb internet meme (I feel stupid even typing this word).

Some other people now...
posted by ghost of a past number at 12:59 PM on February 13, 2009


Don't worry, we'll always have the Belgians to mock and belittle.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:16 PM on February 13, 2009


But what do you call ginger toms?

Technically, orange tabbies, but nowadays a lot of people seem to call them "Garfield cats". (And only devoted cat people say "toms", ever.)

As if saying "red hair is hot" is not a form of prejudice, part of a system of objectification and exploitation.

Believe me when I say it's well below the level of conscious thought. It feels hardwired.

Oh, I can control it in public, never you mind. But oh my the cerebellum lights up.
posted by dhartung at 2:37 PM on February 13, 2009


My guess is that the only reason we haven't had a MeTa boyzone thread about this is the fact that it keeps disappearing off the front page. I also find redheads attractive, but some of you guys are being creepy.
posted by Caduceus at 3:14 PM on February 13, 2009


Uhh, ginger is pink.

I'm going to excuse myself from this thread because I find my need to check profiles for images slightly creepy.
posted by Eideteker at 3:15 PM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


The famous example came about when that rich douche called Lindsey Lohan "firecrotch." What exact negative this is supposed to imply escapes me, but I guess it was considered quite the putdown.

I assumed that referred to the burning sensation you got after sleeping with her.
posted by graventy at 3:46 PM on February 13, 2009


The attraction to red heads is a real biological phenomenon, which is why there are so many of them in Northern Europe. Red hair and pale skin don't seem to offer any genetic advantage to the bearer (or rather, the vitamin D benefit is slight), but it occurs with a fair amount of frequency for a recessive trait - therefore, it must be sex selection that drives up the number of gingers. (Blondes too.) This would probably also be the case if some people had green or purple hair, or any other colour that deviates from the mean. There's just something about the exotic that draws attention.

I wonder though, why are there more blondes than reds? If it was just sex selection you'd think the numbers would be more equal.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:56 PM on February 13, 2009


Don't worry, we'll always have the Belgians to mock and belittle.

But their beer is so good.
posted by jonmc at 4:09 PM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm USian redhead who, like dyobmit, can't remember being teased too much about it growing up. Random strangers will notice and make some benign comment from time to time. Used to happen more, but now I travel with a beautiful redheaded toddler and she gets all the attention. Seriously, every time we go out someone says something about her hair. Her baby sister doesn't have enough hair yet to be sure, but it looks like it's going to be strawberry blonde. I just hope for her sake she doesn't end up in her sister's shadow.

doing my best to make sure the breed doesn't die out. I just now asked my husband if he thought we should have more
posted by libraryhead at 5:33 PM on February 13, 2009


Fucking pigs gingers.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:09 PM on February 13, 2009


Also, I'm rather surprised that so many MeFites share my predilection for redheads. There's a certain round-headed, perky, red-head female form that is just, wow, make me lust. Completely innate. Been that way since I was a toddler, as evidenced by my first "playing doctor" experience.

So if so many people are lust-bunnies for redheads, maybe the ginger hate comes from the jealous brunettes.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:13 PM on February 13, 2009


Where I come from, redheads are rare, and being a redhead is considered attractive. The two most popular girls in my school were redhead sisters.

But there is something that I don't know how to classify... Redheads don't have to do their own bullying. The first one in a groups of kids to spot a redhead gets to pinch another kid in the group as hard as he wants. Once you pinch someone, you cross your fingers and no one can pinch you. After the chain reaction ends, you have those who pinched and did not get pinched, those who gave as good as they took, and the losers who got pinched and could not pinch anyone. You only do it with new redheads, if you have a redhead cousin or classmate, they don't count.

My sister, smaller than me, was very good at spotting redheads.
posted by dirty lies at 6:34 PM on February 13, 2009


The phrase is "red on the head like the dick of a dog." It's certainly vulgar, and I don't know what it means to say exactly, but I admire the poetry of it.

Gangly red-headed comedian Todd Yohn has a song bemoaning his hair called "Red on the Head Like the Wee-wee of a Big Ole Dog Blues".
posted by TedW at 7:22 PM on February 13, 2009


Ginger, married a ginger. Had a kid: ginger. We called him Rufus - latin for, well, ginger. Mess with him and you mess with the whole tribe.

We're taking over the world, one pale freckly kid at a time.
posted by tim_in_oz at 7:23 PM on February 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've heard the term 'strawberry-blonde' all my life without having the faintest idea what sort of red hair it means. Can anyone link me to a picture of what you'd consider strawberry-blonde?
posted by harriet vane at 7:38 PM on February 13, 2009


Yah, well, just wait until the sun comes out, tim-in-ounces. Your pale, freckly skin will be your doom!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:39 PM on February 13, 2009


I got teased a lot in elementary school because of my orange hair, and I come from an area with a fairly large redhead population. But the teasing made me shun short sleeved shirts, shorts and skirts for quite a few years during adolescence due to self-consciousness about my freckle collection. Which of course made my pasty skin redder than ever in the summer from the heat. I can finally say that I like this hair, now that it's starting to gain silver threads among the copper, but it took a long time to accept my fate!
posted by fish tick at 7:42 PM on February 13, 2009


harriet vane, I just did a google image search for "strawberry blond" and picked out what I'd consider good examples: 1, 2, 3 ...but I think all of those are dyed.
posted by hippugeek at 8:20 PM on February 13, 2009


Thanks, hippugeek, so it's more of a Nicole Kidman red than a Gillian Anderson red. Cool.
posted by harriet vane at 9:28 PM on February 13, 2009


Also, I'm rather surprised that so many MeFites share my predilection for redheads.

I'm more surprised by how creepy they come off as. I bet women love to hear how attractive they are for embodying a stereotype.
posted by ghost of a past number at 9:50 PM on February 13, 2009


I was referring to preadolescent boys, you sexist reprobate.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:05 PM on February 13, 2009


Daywalkerrrrr! (Yelled in Cartman's voice.)
posted by jamstigator at 11:07 PM on February 13, 2009


I got picked on as a kid (up to age 10) for having red hair, but that's just the way it is in school. No-one is immune from insults, and if someone wants to insult you they'll always find something. It's part of growing up and if we treat it like racism or any other serious issue then our kids will grow up to be a bunch of pussies.
posted by benwad at 2:57 AM on February 14, 2009


It's part of growing up and if we treat it like racism or any other serious issue then our kids will grow up to be a bunch of pussies.

Seems like misogyny isn't a big deal for you, either.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:46 AM on February 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's part of growing up and if we treat it like racism or any other serious issue then our kids will grow up to be a bunch of pussies.

Ugh. So tired of this "bullying is a part of growing up" talk. Plenty of things are "a part of growing up" that should nonetheless be curtailed or prevented as much as possible. Also, I don't see how treating bullying seriously creates coddled, thin-skinned adults. Especially as not taking bullying seriously can cause kids to grow up to be defeated, broken adults, assuming they don't commit suicide or go Columbine.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:05 PM on February 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


i am married to a redhead. the guy i had a crush on before i met my husband was a redhead too. i think i've always had a *thing* for them (i see i'm not alone here)

my husband is adamant that despite his red hair and freckly skin, he is NOT a ginger. he says that gingers are only a specific flavor of redhead -- the kind that has no eyelashes or eyebrows.

my daughter has red hair, too. she gets tons of positive attention for it. almost without fail, whenever we are out and about, someone will comment favorably about her hair.
posted by fancyoats at 9:26 PM on February 14, 2009


No-one is immune from insults, and if someone wants to insult you they'll always find something. It's part of growing up and if we treat it like racism or any other serious issue then our kids will grow up to be a bunch of pussies.

Okay, let's say that it's a mistake to treat it like racism.

Can we treat what you're talking about like BULLYING? Because that's what it is, and it doesn't HAVE to be "part of growing up." In fact, if we DID take bullying seriously, maybe it would mean we'd have fewer guys growing up who felt they had to act all tough and call people "pussies".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:58 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


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