Don’t call me ginger!

Last week it was apparently International Kiss a Ginger Day. After clearing my mouth of the sick I was over come by seeing red followed by being dumbstruck.

Years ago I worked at a medium sized investment bank and everyone had to undergo various mandatory training. One of these training exercises involved watching actors and picking out when inappropriate comments were made (e.g. sexist, racist) and the skit involved telling a ‘lone joke’. That is correct: blonde jokes are no longer acceptable workplace banter. The reasoning is: associating a certain hair colour with stupidity and regularly calling someone stupid just based on hair colour is not appropriate way to interact.

Yet gingers are fair game.

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Now many will claim “ginger” is not an insult because if it were people would feel self-conscious about using it around those with red hair. Instead people view red hair as a free pass from the “PC police,” a chance to finally make “just a joke.” What happens if I don’t laugh? The added bullying comment of ‘come on, can’t you take a joke?’ Yes I can and I can laugh at myself very well but these ‘jokes’ are just not funny.

As a natural red head I have been at the receiving end of all sorts of abuse. I have been: spat at and spat on, told I should have been drowned as a child / when my hair grew in, told I was the ugliest person alive (the car slowed down to shout it and when I told a friend, her response was: What were you wearing?), told all red heads are ugly, in ear shot of people expressing pleasure at not being ginger or praying their child is not born with red hair, told my opinion does not count as ‘you are just a ginge’.  Now there are those of you who will protest and decry: But I love gingers.

Until I moved to Europe I had never been called ginger (the above events are split between N America and Europe) and it clearly is a pejorative on the continent and one that has spread. It is bigoted language, a low-risk way of poking fun at a group a people, a manner to dehumanise someone, a method of exerting (false) superiority. Aside from personally finding it insulting, obnoxious, and lacking all humour,  the problem with “ginger” is that it extends from school-yard name-calling to bullying, discrimination, stereotyping and prejudice. For those that are interested, the police in some areas of the UK record incidents of ‘gingerism‘.
Now I don’t want anyone to bother with: you are just being sensitive or cannot take a joke (excuse me?) or try to say: I use to have / know someone who had that hair colour and I think it is lovely. Next time you see someone someone with red hair, love it or hate it, keep the opinion to yourself, no one is interested. If you really need to say something, like you will explode if you do not, try inserting another visible group for redhead and then see how that sounds (prejudice, ignorant and/or racist come to mind).
Posted in Opinion, The Countess of Evil and tagged , , , .

The Countess of Evil

Evil genius. Killing with looks and kindness.