Despite having been born with red hair, I’ve actually been pretty lucky in that I’ve never been physically attacked because of my universally reviled appearance. And come to think of it, although my mum got a lot of “don’t worry, she might grow out of it!” comments when I was a small baby, few people have been rude enough – or brave enough – to tell me to my face that they think my hair is ugly, either. Or, indeed, to kick me on the ass because of it.
(Note: one time in the shopping mall, a teenager did grab me by the collar, thrust his acne-ridden face into mine and scream, “You’re SO fucking ugly!” at me. I don’t know if that was because of my hair specifically, or just a more general observation, though, so I can’t really count it.)
No, most people tend to go for the more subtle, but just as offensive, method of telling me that hey, I’m not bad looking “for a redhead”. Or they’ll try to “comfort” me by reassuring me that I’m not actually a redhead at all, “it’s more of an auburn colour!” (This actually REALLY offends me because I don’t WANT to be “more of an auburn colour”, thanks – I’m happy with the colour I have and I don’t really need people trying to convince me I’m delusional, ya know?) Or, the all-time winner: “it’s OK on you, I guess, but when I see men with red hair I’m physically sick!” Yeah. Good job I’m not planning to breed then, or my offspring might really upset you…
So I’ve been lucky. Much luckier than the kid in this story, anyway, who was assaulted by a group of 13 teenagers, all taking part in “National Kick a Ginger Day”.
Let’s just take a minute to digest that. National. Kick. A. Ginger. Day. Doesn’t that sound fun? I mean, we already know that redheads have no soul so it stands to reason they have no feelings either, and therefore it’s perfectly acceptable to abuse them – whether physically or verbally – and expect them to just take the joke, isn’t it?
Because this is the thing. Almost every time I indulge in a rant about the hatred directed towards people with red hair in this country (or, in this case, in Canada, which surprised me, because it’s normally the UK that abuses its “gingers”), some bright spark comes along and tells me to “lighten up” or “get a sense of humour”.
A quote from the article I linked to above:
“Student Ken Logel said: “I have a few buddies with red hair, you just kind of kick them lightly just as a joke but when it gets carried away that’s not cool.”
No, that’s not “cool”, is it? I mean, a “light kick” is just fine, obviously. Because it’s SO FUNNY when people call you ugly and maybe leave you bruised and battered because of the colour of your hair, isn’t it? And that’s not AT ALL like abusing someone for the colour of their skin, or their religion or race, now, is it? On no, my mistake: IT IS. It is the same. And every time I write about prejudice against redheads, and compare it to prejudice against black people, or Jewish people, or < insert abused mimority group here > I’m told that I’m doing a disservice to victims of racism because what I’m talking about is SO MUCH LESS IMPORTANT, and is a JOKE, and doesn’t actually matter because for crying out loud it’s JUST HAIR.
Yes, it is. But now people are actually being physically attacked because of it. Now there are Facebook groups inciting violence against people with a certain colour of hair. How is this different from inciting violence against people with a certain colour of skin? Oh yeah: it isn’t. It really isn’t. And now I find myself wondering how many more attacks like this there will have to be before people start to admit that no, it’s really not cool. It’s not cool to beat people up for ANY REASON, be it skin colour, race, religion, or even hair colour. The fact that people think the first three are unacceptable (which they are) and the last is “just a joke” absolutely boggles my mind, it really does.
(Oh, and the “you can dye your hair - people can’t change the colour of their skin” argument? I SHOUDLN’T HAVE TO dye my hair to avoid abuse, any more than people with black skin should be forced to try and lighten it, or hide themselves away. People just shouldn’t abuse others, end of story.)
I’m glad to see that the police seem to be taking this incident seriously at least. But I can’t help wondering how much more of an outcry there would be if there was a “National Kick a Black Day” or a “National Kick a Jew Day”.
(Thanks to Emma for sending me the link to the story)
Ginger and proud