I had no idea that the term “ginger” was an offensive term for those with red hair. Apparently, the term is used to ridicule entire populations of people who happen to have red hair. They are sometimes considered targets, sexulized and bullied. Really, I had no idea. I think it’s because as a Black woman, hair color has been much less of a discussion point for me than hair texture (sample from any of the past year’s blog posts and you’ll likely gain insight into hair texture).
Yet, hair color seems to be much more of a concern for non-Black people, especially White people. I recall Chris Rock’s famous insight that White women seemed to be obsessed with blonde hair, with many White women dying their hair blonde. So, I’d heard about the pursuit of blonde hair, but I’d never heard about the teasing that some may endure just because they have red hair.
I came across an article “Seeing red: why we need to be sensitive about using the word ‘ginger'” on www.theguardian.com (http://www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2014/jan/24/mind-your-language-red-hair). I must admit that I cringed at the sexist references littered throughout the article but I tried my best to chew up the meat and spit out the bone (I hope that doesn’t offend my vegetarian readers!). I’m curious to know what you all think about the article.
Did you know:
1) red hair is the rarest hair color? Only 1% to 2% of the world population has red hair.
2) Scotland has the highest concentration of those with red hair? 13% have red hair and 40% have the recessive red hair gene.
3) Polynesians have a significant incidence of red hair? In Polynesian culture, red hair is a mark of high ancestral descent.
4) The stereotype that people with red hair are “hot tempered” in part comes from 19th century work (i.e., Cesare Lombroso & Guglielmo Ferrero, see below for link) which associated red hair with lust crimes and asserted that almost half of women criminals had red hair. Geez.
If you’re interested in this topic, here are a few links that educated me on this topic: