The world has a fairly weird relationship with "Gingers." For some reason, those born with red hair, pale skin, and an abundance of freckles have found themselves the target of mockery for many, many years.
The mockery of "Ginger Kids" is nothing new: one could argue that a famous South Park episode, wherein Cartman attempts to remove all Ginger Kids from the planet, claiming that they have "no souls," sparked a resurgence in Ginger mocking: police are investigating the 14-year-old founder of a Facebook group promoting "National Kick A Ginger Day," which was loosely based on the episode. The leader of the group, which currently has roughly 5,000 members, claims that the whole thing is a big joke, but police see it differently: "We do treat this sort of thing seriously," a police spokeswoman said, "This is sort of inciting hate. It's a hate crime, really."
Simon Hattenstone, the father of a red-headed, freckled daughter, agrees with the notion that "gingism" is a hateful thing. In this week's Guardian, he writes: "Why do so many seemingly decent people - the type who would hate to be considered prejudiced - think gingism is perfectly acceptable?" Hattenstone brings up his own experiences with his daughter, recalling that he used to affectionately refer to her as "his ginger darling," before he realized how hurtful his words were to her. "Because I was her father, because I thought I was being funny, because I loved her? Whatever, there was no excuse. When we met other gingers, I'd smugly announce, 'Look, one of yours!' and expect the both of them to crack up at my sparkling wit. Thoughtless bastard. Worst of all, I travelled the road euphemistic. Despite my "banter", I told Alix her hair was copper, Titian, russet - anything but ginger."
Hattenstone is also quick to point out historical prejudices against Gingers, including witch burning, Satan having red hair on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and the fact that "Egyptians burned gingers alive, and the Greeks reckoned they turned into vampires when they died." But the theme that runs through the article, and rings the most true, is the notion that Hattenstone is worried about people making fun of his daughter, who he obviously loves. He brings up sad stories of Gingers being harassed, screamed at, and victimized, noting that people seem to give themselves a free pass when it comes to taunting red-heads, as if the entire world agrees that Gingers are weird and mock-worthy.
Many gingers, Hattenstone notes, "say they've been bullied or harassed because of their hair; many believe that in a politically correct world this seems like the last acceptable ism. 'The G word is an anagram of the N word,' says Richard Tyrone Jones. At primary school, he was defined by his hair colour from day one. He was shown his peg, and because some of the children couldn't yet read, they were denoted by pictures - his was a flame-haired gingerbread man running away (from life, from gingerdom?). He still looks traumatised today."
The title of Hattenstone's article, "Does Gingerism Remain the Last Acceptable Prejudice" seems a bit dramatic: the answer is clearly no, as MANY prejudices are still "acceptable" to many people out there. And on a very small level, as someone born with platinum blonde hair, I can tell you, dear Ginger Kids, you are not alone in hair-color mockery. Where you are seen as "weird," the REAL blondes of the world, (I'm not talking bottle blondes here) are seen as "dumb."
So what say you, commenters? Are you guilty of Gingerism? And for those of you born with red hair and freckles, have you ever experienced such things?
RCMP investigating Facebook group over 'Kick a Ginger' day [Canada.com]
Facebook Kick A Ginger Campaign Prompts Attacks On Redheads [Telegraph]
Does Gingerism Remain The Last Acceptable Prejudice? [The Guardian]