October 27, 2007

When Will My People's Persecution End?

"Is gingerism as bad as racism?" English photographer Charlotte Rushton: "I was on the Tube, pregnant, and I was really humiliated by this drunk yob. He was shouting 'do the cuffs and the collars match?' He got right up into my face."

I told a joke about this exact thing happening to me on the train in Chicago during my first Underground set. Some moron got right in my face and said "redhead, redhead, carpets match the drapes?"

That guy was a jerk, and that was a totally rude thing to say, but I'm kidding about personally suffering any real stigma related to being a redhead, because #1 "gingerism" is not as profound and complex a social issue here as it is in the UK ("some claim it could be a throwback to anti-Irish sentiment from...when the Irish...were regarded as ethnically inferior").

And #2 I'm a natural blonde, so it's not something I grew up suffering taunts for. But still. Lay off the firecrotch jokes (language in video NSFW)!

Thanks to K-Rock for the link!


Chancelucky said...

I've never heard a red-headed man asked that question.

Bella Rossa said...

Maybe because nobody really wants to know the answer.

Ow! Reverse sexism! Bad Bella.

nora said...

I really wanted red hair when I was a kid, 'cause my mom has red hair and I thought I didn't look Irish enough. When I lived in Philadelphia I learned that my coloring (fair skin, black hair) was called Black Irish. When I was in Dublin I looked like everyone else. I still want red hair though....

Admiral Neck said...

I was called Carrot Top by many people when I was a kid. This was before the current reign of the terrifying body-builder/comedic-timing-enemy, but it still sucked. I mean, even my granddad called me that. Thanks, Gramps.

The only time anyone knows of my ginger genetic history is when I grow my beard too long. If I didn't shave at least slightly regularly, life in the UK would be unbearable. Gingers are treated like lepers over here. Hey, Queen Elizabeth, issue an edict and let my people go!

Bella Rossa said...

Nora: I think "black Irish" looks are gorgeous. I have a weird thing about not being attracted to blondes or redheads. Basically, the more you look like me, the more I'm bored.

Admiral Neck: (How much do I love the fact that an OTZ'er is posting here?) I find the UK prejudice against gingers really, really fascinating and sad. I've heard stories about little kids being terribly bullied, and that's just so, so ridiculous and wrong. As someone who grew up very plus-sized, I can tell you that sort of social experience is very damaging in a profound long-term way, and it's just not fair at all.

Interesting that you grew out of your gingerness and therefore "pass." My brothers all have dark blonde as adults, but have a touch of ginger to their beards, probably much like you.

By royal edict I hereby decree: gingers are to be respected like the blondes, brunettes, blackhaired, and baldies among us!

...and maybe a little compensation is in order. Nothing big. Just a box of cookies or something.

Timothy Carter said...

I had no idea what this whole 'ginger' thing was until I saw the South Park episode where Cartman goes after the gingers, then becomes one and turns them into a powerful force bent on world domination. Then I heard the commentary for that episode, and Trey Parker said he's marrying an Asian just to be certain his kids don't become ginger. I couldn't tell if he was kidding or not.

What the hell? I guess it makes as much sense as any other form of racism out there. I might as well go around hating brown-eyed people because of my genetically superior blue eyes!

Bella Rossa said...

I don't know what the deal is, either, Timothy. Various English and Irish friends of mine tell me they suspect it springs from the deep-seated cultural clash between the English and the Irish (red hair tending to pop up more in people of Celtic rather than Anglo descent), so it springs from a "conquerer vs. conquered" dynamic with a long and bitter history, but I'm sure after awhile things like that shift meaning, and the justification for and understanding of things like that take on new meaning.

I've read that when Princess Diana gave birth to Prince Harry (at a time when their marriage was in a very tough spot), Charles said something along the lines of "Oh, he's ginger," and walked out of the room disappointed, leaving Diana crushed. And Harry - English royalty, for Pete's sake - has spoken several times about having been bullied throughout his childhood for being ginger.

I think it's utterly ridiculous. My two best friends growing up were redheads, and obviously I think red hair is lovely, since I go to such pains every four weeks to enhance my shade. I feel much more myself as a ginger than as a blonde. I really don't get it at all.