Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Recently, I've been catching weekday matinees at a nearby cineplex (rewatching! Hail Caesar! four times!) One unfortunate side effect of this indulgence is being forced to endure the same trailers over and over. In one of them, a ghastly summer comedy, a person with red hair is disparagingly referred to as a "ginger." Switch the first 'g' with the 'n' and you'll get the full import of the way the word was used in context.

I had first become aware of this peculiar prejudice many years ago. The otherwise intelligent and enlightened individual I was living with at the time was trying to explain why she thought The Pickwick Papers was funny. In one of the episodes, a character cast a slur on a red-haired person. I thought that Dickens was using the incident to show the ignorance and meanness of a social stratum. My companion found it to be hilarious and she judged my sense of humor to be somewhat retarded. To denigrate someone for their hair color was cruel and dumb then, I am even more disturbed by its usage now.

BTW, Hail Caesar! did feature a red-haired person. But not as a slur:

By Professor Batty


Blogger Jono said...

I always thought red haired women were hot. It has only been in recent years that I understood there was a prejudice of some sort against those people. Are self esteem issues getting so prevalent that people have to find SOMETHING to make fun of in other people just to feel better about themselves?

Blogger Professor Batty said...

I was astounded when I became aware of it. When my hair had color my beard and pubes were quite red, that's a distant memory, however.

Blogger Shoshanah Lee Marohn said...

As a sort of redhead or former redhead (my hair goes blonder and blonder with age), I don't really take offense. So many people love red hair and have complimented me over the years, it makes up for it. My daughter has red hair and we constantly get compliments, wherever we go. The word "ginger" is new, of course, and I think it's lame.

My Dad's mom, Grandma Ruth, was speculating once on why I had red hair when no one else in the family did. "I think it's because my father-in-law had beautiful auburn hair," she said. Telling my dad this, he got indignant, "MY DAD HAD RED HAIR!" As in, Grandma Ruth's husband that she had six kids with had red hair... and she forgot. LOL!

When I was a kid, other children used to call me "carrot top," which I of course didn't like. Then when I grew up, I finally thought of a come-back (too late, as always): "Carrot tops are GREEN, dummy!"

For some reason, a lot of my friends are redheads. I think we're attracted to each other.

I've always wondered (at least since the time of "Avoiding Sex with Frenchmen") if Frenchmen have a special thing for red hair? There don't seem to be that many French people with red hair.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

I think it is big in the UK, they always seem to be in the forefront of disparaging comments.

Oops… that was a disparaging comment about people from the UK!

Post a Comment