There aren’t community outreach programs for us gingers. We don’t have lobbyists who raise money for increased sunscreen research, and Congress isn’t asking Obamacare to cover freckle removal surgery. All of that is fine. But gingers do get St. Patrick’s day.
Let’s face it, gingers aren’t a very marginalized group — at least, compared to the truly disenfranchised of society. The worst thing you can say about a ginger? We don’t have souls.
That’s not to imply there aren’t legitimate concerns within the red-hair community. Jacky Collins Harvey, author of Red: A History Of The Redhead, says gingerism is the last acceptable form of discrimination. Even if that statement seems remarkably silly — given the state of racism in the United States, not to mention the hate tornadoes that are Donald Trump rallies — a study conducted by the University College Cork in Ireland found that nine of ten red-haired men worldwide have been bullied.
“Unfortunately the bullying of children with red hair is still common and people with red hair are often seen as acceptable targets because they’re not one group and not a race,” says Harvey. “It’s one of the last great social prejudices.”
But the bullying rate among gingers is relatively consistent with national statistics for men. Nearly 85 percent of 19-year-old males have admitted they were victims of online bullying, and failed to report it.
I felt bullied in high school for a brief time, but I think it had to do more with being the new kid than any prejudice about my hair. No, the worst I got were “daywalker” South Park jokes, which I also find hilarious, and constant comparisons to literally every other male ginger — celebrity or not. Ron Weasley, Louis C.K., and Conan O’Brien were frequent comparisons, even if I really don’t look much like any of them (except for maybe a bearded Conan when my hair gets particularly long and swoopy).
St. Patrick’s Day feels like the perfect small concession for gingers. The holiday supposedly celebrates the patron saint of Ireland, but the general masses just like an excuse for day drinking. That’s fine by me, because I enjoy beer and I’m not religious — or even all that Irish, more Czechoslovakian.
Today, gingers emerge from the woodwork to mingle over good food and drink and connect as a community. We only really surface once a year, and it’s nice to feel like you’re apart of something far reaching and unique.
We’re not even selfish, everyone comes out for St. Patrick’s day to indulge in the shenanigans of the day and even dress up like leprechauns — which would probably be considered an offensive practice if they actually existed.
The next day old ladies in the elevator will go back to saying “my grandson’s hair looks just like yours,” red-haired women will still be over fetishized, and the fame-haired men will continue as cultural outliers in media. But for one day we’ll have our community, and we’ll share it around a bar and some pints.