National Kick a Ginger Day: yet more proof that stupidity should be painful

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


54 Comments

  • Alex says:

    Blimey. And there was I getting all jealous because a girl who sat opposite me on the tube had thick, romantically curly ginger hair. And it was proper ginger, not dark auburn, or bottle red – and completely beautiful.

    Obviously, I must know nothing about beauty. Or, possibly, the world is full of complete arseholes.

    Hmm…

    Alex´s last blog post..Tweety Bird

  • I heard about this day/incident, which happened not far from where I live, and it made me sick to me stomach. Still does. I completely agree with you that it's no different from any other prejudice, and I'm shocked that such barbaric behaviour exists. And I think your hair is gorgeous! I'm a plain old brown-head.

    <abbr>Amanda Nicole´s last blog post..the read baron's weekend playlist</abbr>

    • Amber says:

      I was really surprised to read that it had happened in Canada, because North America in general seems to be much more tolerant of the "gingers" (hate that word!)whereas in the UK it wouldn't be that surprising, and you'd probably get a lot of people saying there was nothing wrong with it, and that the redheads need to get a sense of humour. Aargh! Thanks for the comment about my hair :)

  • Kristabella says:

    That is so horrible! What is wrong with red hair? I wish I could pull red hair off!

    Fucktards, all of them! (The mean people, not the gingers.)

    <abbr>Kristabella´s last blog post..So Funktified</abbr>

  • Kiley says:

    Amber I am beyond jealous of your hair. If I ever thought I even had the slightest chance of pulling off red hair I would dye mine in a second. People are so strange about their distaste for red heads and I for one don't understand it at all.

    • Amber says:

      I don't either – my parents always brought me up to be proud of my hair, so it came as a surprise when I found out that there was such widespread (in the UK) hatred of it. You'd think people had more important things to "hate", but apparently not…

  • Hayley says:

    That. Is. Insane.

    It never ceases to amaze me, the strong reaction to red hair. I suppose it's just remnants of medieval ideas about redheads being witches, which means they were just jealous of them in the first place. Meh.

    <abbr>Hayley´s last blog post..A Promise, and another list</abbr>

    • Amber says:

      Yeah, I think it probably does go back to the whole "witch" thing – there are all of those myths about how we have terrible tempers, too, which go back to those good ol' days! (Actually, the "temper" thing is kinda true for me, but still…)

  • Erin says:

    Before reading your blog I had no idea that people hated redheads so much! It's completely baffling to me that people would feel so strongly and horrifying that they would actually result to physical violence! Myself, I've always thought red hair was beautiful and was jealous of girls with red hair!

  • Tracey says:

    The sickness of people in this world never fails to amaze me. And disgust me.

    <abbr>Tracey´s last blog post..All is not sweetness and light in the world of Apple</abbr>

    • Amber says:

      Doesn't it just. I think some people just need to have SOMEONE to direct hatred towards. It's socially unacceptable in most places now to be openly racist, so redheads get it instead. Disgusting.

  • Jennifer says:

    Being from the US, I've not heard of Red-Head Hating before either. Absolute BS. and you are so right about hate being hate, no matter what.

    The other night on BBC America, the Catherine Tate show was on and I happened to scroll past and caught it – it was the episode where she is in the police station and they are advocating relocating to a refugee camp. It goes on and on about how much danger she was in and the irrational hate – and it finishes with it being because she was a ginger. It was really funny – and I understood it because of your blog – but I was surprised that it was widespread enough to warrant a comedy sketch. Now this? Wide spread indeed! Reading your posts, I thought maybe you made it funnier or juiced it up a bit – only because that doesn't happen here. Lots of other irrational hates happen, don't get me wrong – just not Ginger Bashing.

    Anyhow – I dyed my hair red for years. Sexy, smart, sophisticated. and you are beautiful, Amber! Keep making us laugh and have better days. I appreciate you.

    • Amber says:

      Funny you should mention Catherine Tate… She talks about this issue a lot, and was interviewed on TV a couple of months ago. She had decided to adopt a cat at the time and had called up her local cat shelter, who told her there was only one cat suitable at the time, but that she probably wouldn't want it. She asked why not and they said, "Well, it's a ginger cat." (Obviously they hadn't realised who she was). Naturally Catherine Tate said straight away, "I'll take it. It'll be right at home here." Even I was amazed by that story – had no idea the prejudice had reached the animal kingdom, too!

      I know it sounds pretty unbelieveable to people from the US, because the redhead hatred just doesn't exist there. The thing about it over here, and the reason I'm able to cite so many examples of it, is that it's become the acceptable form of hate here. People honestly see nothing wrong with making comments about redheads because they assume everyone agrees with them – it's become so ingrained in British society that it's hard to know how it's going to change now. Very sad.

      • Jennifer says:

        Its unbelievable. And the most stupid thing I've ever heard. I live in Maryland and I did notice when I moved here 6 years ago that there was an amazing amount of people with red hair. The early immigration waves were probably packed with Gingers trying to escape. Well, you have so often said that the weather is too cold, the skies are too often dark… You love Florida – they would love to have you, Amber! (so would any other state – you could come here to Maryland and shop in DC for less $ and still maintain your businesses in the UK to keep up that 2:1 pound:dollar ratio, right? or is it 3:1 now that were hitting rock bottom over here?)

        • Amber says:

          Ha, I wish! The exchange rate's actually gone in the opposite direction, so everything's going to seem much more expensive next time we're over, unfortunately. I'd still move in a heartbeat, though, but sadly the American government isn't keen on allowing us in!

      • Alex says:

        Actually, weirdly enough colour DOES affect how quickly animals are rehomed. Despite being my personal favourites, black cats and dogs are the last to be rehomed because they don't tend to show themselves off so well in badly lit kennel photos, etc., especially if they're shy and tend to go towards shadows.

        I suspect the ginger problem with cats is probably more because it's very rare to have a ginger female and ginger toms have the bolshy stereotype applied to them – although a tom is a tom is a tom (and neutering will see to a lot of the overconfidence – it's very hard, as a cat, to present a macho front when you're lacking testicles).

        I was stunned when I found out about the black cat thing, but there you go. Some shelters in the US also won't adopt out black cats on Hallowe'en as it's 'bad luck' and they sometimes wonder if the people are not quite serious. There's something a little wrong with the industry I work in sometimes.

        <abbr>Alex´s last blog post..Tweety Bird</abbr>

        • Amber says:

          Ooh, that's really interesting, Alex – I feel like going and adopting a black dog or cat now, the poor things!

        • Jennifer says:

          Actually, they do not adopt out black cats before Halloween because sick people torture and kill them for being black and therefore evil.

          The typical threat is tarring and lighting them.

          It is the mistaken 'Halloween is the Devil's Holiday' routine. and, black cats are really witches in disguise.

          I adopted a black and white kitten 2 days after Halloween and they had some hard questions for me as to my plans for him. I guess in case I celebrated orthodox halloween?

      • Am says:

        But ginger cats are my favourite!

        And I think red hair is lovely, I've always been jealous of my best friend for having red hair. And actually some men with red hair can be quite sexy…

  • J. says:

    I'm in the US as well – we're not of the Ginger Hater community on this side of the pond. I honestly can't understand it! HAIR of all things.

    I like your hair – it's a lovely color. It spices up your black dresses as well. (Sorry, don't mean to sound like a creeper!) :)

    • Amber says:

      haha thanks :)

      Yeah, most Americans seem to be totally baffled by it – more reasons to move, I guess! I was surprised that the incident in the link happened in Canada, though: they don't normally hate redheads there either, so not sure what's going on there.

  • aunt fiona says:

    well to say i am ticked is an understatement. first of all you are beautiful. i also have a handsome nephew who has red hair as well. what is wrong with people these days.

  • Jemma says:

    I've been reading your blog for ages and haven't ever commented, but I just wanted to say that I completely agree with you & can't understand at all why anyone could hate someone because of their skin or hair colour. I think you're gorgeous, and your red hair is part of what makes you beautiful.

  • Terry says:

    I think your hair is gorgeous ;)

  • Steph says:

    That's just awful. Red hair is so striking and pretty – I practically fell in love with a redhaired man at the station the other day. Sadly I never inherited my mother's red hair, but I can still dream, dammit!

  • Natasha says:

    This is so stupid, primitive and vile that I'm at a loss for words! I just can't even begin to imagine what fills people with such senseless hatred… Amber, you're lovely and so is your hair!

    <abbr>Natasha´s last blog post..And… Some More Weebl And Bob</abbr>

  • OMG wow! That is ridiculous.

  • BWC says:

    " Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity."

    No wonder they call Einstein a genius.

    These people should be locked up somewhere!

  • Amy says:

    Another baffled American here, and I completely agree with everything you've said. I recently heard a story on the radio about a man who is very easily irritated, and he made the comment that he never understood racial prejudice because there are far better reasons to dislike someone than for the color of their skin (for instance people with poor hygiene or people who don't cover their mouth when they sneeze, other petty reasons). Which completely makes sense to me, I can't understand how someone's physical appearance can be offensive to anyone. Skin, hair, features or scars, no one should feel like their appearance garners them any less respect than other people.

  • Jade says:

    I guess there will always be physical differences on the basis of which people choose to discriminate – if not race or sex, then hair color. It is kind of interesting from a sociological standpoint. Kids can be especially cruel, such as in the story you referenced. I can remember garnering some harsh comments from kids when I was in high school because my skin is so light – such as, "why don't you get a tan," or "you need some sun," or something equally rude to that effect. But it is difficult to comprehend that there are adults who are immature and insensitive enough to take part in "ginger-hating." I agree with you, discrimination is the same no matter what factors it is based on.

  • SammiJ says:

    They've been talking about charging it as a hate crime. It started out in BC by a 14 year old boy, and the escalation was enormous. All across the country families were warned and quite a few redheaded kids stayed home out of fear and safety. It baffles a lot of Canadians as to why anyone would do such a thing especially since there's such a love affair with red hair; to not have red hair out on the east coast is almost akin to being in a visible minority. I was born with a full head of coral pink hair –yes, I'm serious– which muted a touch as I got older. It's never occured to me, or to other members of my family, on both sides of the pond, (we've all be redheads, both sides, for generations back) that it would be something so appalling. This irrational fear? hate? is an old Viking scare/hate during the Norse migrations –when red hair was introduced to the islands en mass– but the raids were a millenia ago. How is it that we can claim to be so progressive and yet still so medival in our thought rendering? What pieces are missing or were skipped? Or, in this case, any excuse to pick a fight?

  • Rock Hyrax says:

    I think prejudice in this country (UK) against red-haired people might go back to when it was first invaded by the Romans, who probably characterised the natives as savages in order to subjugate them successfully. If you had red hair, chances were you were a native Briton and therefore a savage. (I'm allowed to say this – I'm half Welsh.)

    On the other hand, from the female point of view it is probably envy – I know it is on my part ;-)

  • Melissa says:

    I just don’t understand the red hair hatred. Your hair is so pretty, I wish mine was naturally red. I have to color it to make it red. :( My mom is a natural red head, I’d like to see someone try and kick her, she’d take them down.

    I live in the US and I actually get more compliments on my hair when I have it red than any other color. If you feel too much hate you can always come here and enjoy the love for you hair.

  • timeforchange says:

    Amber, as a fellow female UK redhead I completely understand your horror and sadness regarding "Kick a Ginger" day.

    I can feel the pain of those kids going to school -little versions of us… not just in physical fear of attack, but also in psychological fear that their self-esteem will be trashed. It is the latter which REALLY hurts, as many kids who might not in fact get kicked will still internalise the message, sadly believing that they are unattractive and do not fit in. Of course it is precisely that goal which motivates the bulliies… it gives them a huge thrill to see others ground down… OMG what a world.

    My question is: when redheads get bullied/ taunted WHY IS LEGAL ACTION NOT USED? There are perfectly good laws that exist to protect against hate crimes and preserve human dignity… every other minority from black people through to disabled people would leap on the case and seek redress, and society would understand and applaud them for it.

    I suspect that redheads are at some level wary of drawing more attention to themselves and also have internalised the thought that they should " develop a sense of humour". RUBBISH! These hang-ups are holding us back from preserving the dignity of both ourselves and future redheaded kids.

    What about the parents of redheaded kids…couldn't they do a lot more? I have a black friend who marches to school every time her child gets a taunt to sort out the issues… do parents of redheaded children do the same? Not often, in my experience.

    In the past I have let a few outrageous comments pass… but no longer. The UK needs to see more redheads saying NO to bullying and the bullies getting public condemnation for it.

    I suggest that we use the internet to club together and strike back intelligently and legally at individuals/ TV shows (ie Bo Selecta) and anything else that threatens our dignity. We don't need to be hypersensitive… there are some hugely offensive things we can start with! We can support each other and cheer on each little victory. Who wants to start a group? Any hotshot lawyers out there?

    Having red hair is a blessing… despite everything I feel special. When others start to bully however: WHY DO WE LET THEM CONTINUE?

    Interested in your thoughts Amber?

  • Niina says:

    Is this Ginger-issue something special for brits? In Finland, at least few years ago if I remember correctly, red hair dye was the highest selling and people are jealous of those lucky bastards who are naturally red. I'm a blond but my hair is coloured "dark auburn" and as I get my hair done for free because I hair model, the hairdressers keep dyeing it red as it "suits me so well". And answer to your question; discrimination because of someone's hair colour is as serious as based on skin colour, or religion or your country of origin.

  • Sophie says:

    I’m in New Zealand and being a redhead is practically a crime. People drive past and yell things like ‘ranga’ (in case you didn’t know, it’s short for orangutang). Once, someone drove past and threw a lemon at me. A LEMON. ???? Another time, someone drove past and spat. One of the weirder things was when someone said ‘go back to your homeland, you ranga!’ Um…what?? Do they think there’s a ginger country or something?? Arg. It annoys me!!

  • Hoshi says:

    Why are people so stupid? No, really, why? I'm what I prefer to call "ash" blonde (as opposed to "dishwater"), which is a very mundane color. My younger sister has lovely long, coppery hair that I have wanted ever since Mom brought her home from the hospital. (She does let me style it.) Conclusion? I LOVE red hair. Quite possibly my favorite hair color ever.

    And, Amber? Yours happens to be particularly gorgeous.

  • Maureen says:

    Obviously, single Americans who love red hair need to hurry to the UK and Canada, and then spend all their time complimenting people who sorely need it.

  • Alexandra says:

    Hi i am a fellow redhead and have been picked on all my life for it, even now at 32. My son is blonde and blue eyed and my daughter is only seven months old and she has red hair, but god help anybody that tries to bring her down by insulting what is a lovely colour that most people pay a fortune for. Anybody that tries to knock my babies self esteem and confidnce will feel my wrath. Also how can idiots take the p**s out of red hair when 90percent of the nation are (DYED) blonde, makes you think maybe these people are ashamed of their dull and boring coloured hair. (sorry, hope ive not offended all you red haired supporters out their)

  • Lou says:

    I'm replying a little late here, as I've only just found your site, but this completely baffles me, not to mention the mammoth amount of disgust I have at the people who did this. Can you imagine the outcry if we had 'kick a blonde' day, or 'kick a brunette' day? I feel that 'gingerism' and perhaps 'fatism' seem to be the only things left were it is majoritally accepted to exhibit prejudice.

    But, being a red head myself I guess I have been relatively 'lucky' thus far. Sure, at school I got the occasional 'gingernut' jibe. I've also come across one person who had a 'redhead-phobia'; but throughout my life I have been revered for my hair. As a kid, my mum would be stopped in the street, on several occasions, by friends and strangers alike, with comments of “your girls have got such beautiful hair”. I remember many occasions on the bus, when people sat behind me and and made comments about how beautiful the colour of my hair was. There have been 2 occasions, when my hair got felt upon the bus by some older dears (without my consent lol) saying just how beautiful it was lol.

    I've always been proud of my hair colour, I absolutely love it. I'm 31 soon, and I know that it will change in colour in the future (later rather than sooner I hope!) and it makes me sad. I love it, and don't want to have to use dyes just to keep it's vividness!

    I don't usually watch morning TV, but a few years ago, I saw some daft program on C5, which droned on and on about how 'gingers' have a hard time. It was very much biased towards 'ginger-hate' and 'ginger-pity', and of course chose to air the redheaded callers who hated their own hair. I saw another equally obnoxious, low-brow show called 'Loose Women' who had a segment on 'gingers', and had these inane women going on about how 'awful' it was. They pitied the hard time 'gingers' had, but all expressed their own disgust at 'gingers'. I was absolutely appalled. I couldn't believe my ears or eyes. The media is perpetrating this myth to something bigger than it actually is. Like I said, I have come across 'gingerism' but not at these levels. This is not my truth – 'gingers' are not universally hated. We just provoke a strong reaction – positive or negative… and the media is choosing to promote the negative, cause it makes for a more salacious, entertaining story.

    And I guess the reason we provoke a strong reaction is because we are relatively uncommon, and our hair is like a beacon, that says 'look at me'. We all know, that (particularly in the UK) there is a kind of national disability of 'knocking something down a peg or two' when it's perceived to be rising above its station. Whichever way you look at it, it stems from jealousy, fear, ignorance and insecurity. As with anything that is rare and unique it will be revered for it's special beauty and persecuted in equally strong measure.

  • TheGeniusBlonde says:

    It really makes me sick what people do. That is so so so so wrong!!!!!! What is wrong with red hair???? I wish I had red hair!!!
    I do feel how you do (sorta…but on a smaller scale) Those Dumb Blonde jokes can be pretty funny, but still, sometimes…urg. I also hate it when people will preface those jokes with, “OK, no offense Blondie, but ” I won’t think anything of it unless it’s brought up!!
    What’s next, National-Hit-A-Dumb-Blond Day?!?!
    Blonds and Redheads UNITE!!!!!!
    TheGeniusBlonde
    I’m LEGALLY BLONDE!!!

    “Patrick, your genius is showing!”
    “WHERE?!?”
    -Spongebob Squarepants
    XD

  • Fran says:

    You're absolutely right. I had never seen it in the same light as racial prejudice before, possibly because I tend to like redheads. Thanks.

    I love the colour of your hair BTW.

  • Anji says:

    I totally agree; I too have likened ginger hatred to racism and been told to “get a grip”. Somehow it’s okay to abuse people for being born with a certain hair colour but completely unacceptable to abuse them because of their skin colour etc; they’re both just as bad as each other!! Living in Scotland (the land of the gingers) i don’t get too much abuse but there’s always the odd wiseass looking to make a “joke” or put us down.

    Even hough i’m a straight woman i find many other women with red hair absolutely beautiful (Marcia Cross, OMG – though i don’t think it’s natural unfortunately). Your hair is a gorgeous colour =) I haven’t seen my own natural colour properly for a while because it’s dyed a darker red but i think it’s more dull and orangey rather than vibrant red. Anyway, loving your blog!!

  • Red Head says:

    Bullies are so damned stupid.

  • Caitlin says:

    Have only just discovered your site so am coming in a little late.

    I don’t think you’re far off the mark in comparing this hatred to racism as apparently it is linked with a prejudice against the celts.

    I’m blonde naturally but have been colouring my hair bright copper and absolutely loved it! I did have the odd ‘ginger’ pissed take comment but on the whole people were very complimentary. Hopefully this is a sign of change.

    I couldn’t afford the upkeep of the colouring so have gone back to my natural colour. Needless to say – I miss it!!!!

  • Rachel says:

    I was always really offended by my friends at school and, unfortunately friends now saying ‘ginger’ hair is disgusting, “but not yours, yours is more red” Erm really? Where’s the difference? I have a good friend who says she would put a red haired baby up for adoption, I’m not totally sure she’s not serious either. I loved my red hair, (which yes I did dye a rainbow of colours in my mosher/goth days) but now it’s gone more red/brown so I have to dye it copper again.

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