Can we wash away redhead bigotry, please?

... asks Matthew Bell, as a disinterested, only slightly sandy, observer

Share

If you're still eating your breakfast, you may want to look away now. For I bring news from the world's largest sperm bank, Cryos in Denmark. Its director has announced they are to reject donations from redheads. They are full to capacity – 70 litres, if you must know – and there's no room for any more donations from gingers.

No, I don't want to think about it either. But this is serious: according to Ole Schou, customers are getting pickier, and the redhead supply is outstripping demand. Nobody, it seems, wants a ginger baby.

It is, on the face of it, outrageous. Substitute the word ginger for any of the following: gay, black, Welsh – and you get the picture.

Comic musician Tim Minchin made the point succinctly in a song in which he plays with the jumbled up letters "a couple of Gs, an R and an E, and I and an N", and only later do you realise he's not talking about the N word.

Perhaps more astonishing is the shoulder-shrugging indifference with which the news has been met. A recent poll found that 67 per cent of people think anti-ginger sentiment is a form of racism. But I have yet to hear of any protest riots erupting on the streets of Copenhagen. Peter Tatchell, who can be relied on to take up arms against even the slightest injustice, is unusually quiet this weekend.

It's not as if the sperm bank story is even the only example of gingerism in the news. Much more poignant was the case of the baby seal found in Russia, starving and abandoned because it was covered in ginger hair. Its parents and siblings all had lovely black hair, and instantly shunned the little fella when he popped out. Not even the club-wielding fur-dealers would touch it.

Of course, gingerism is nothing new. It probably dates back to the anti-Irish sentiment of the 19th century or before, when the Irish were regarded as ethnically inferior. But, even though we now know this not to be true, there's no sign of gingerism dying out.

The internet is awash with jokes such as "What's the difference between a terrorist and a redhead?" "You can negotiate with a terrorist." And that's at the tame end.

It's true that some redheads happen to be slightly hot-headed (Rebekah Brooks, Chris Evans). But as with all stereotypes, there are as many exceptions to disprove the rule, such as pixie popstar La Roux, or Lily Cole. In any case, Rebekah Brooks apparently helps her hair with a bit of dye.

But before we all set about boycotting Danish bacon, it's worth considering whether the sperm bank ban is a cause or effect. Cryos is just a business like any other, responding to the demands of market forces. Who can blame their customers for taking advantage of what science has to offer?

Just imagine you are a client, coughing up over £300 per visit. You are seated in a windowless waiting room, flicking through hair swatches. Here are the blondes, ranging from pale metallic Swede to lustrous golden honey. Here are the browns, from a pale nutty tan to locks of sleek jet black. Given the choice, how likely is it that you would plump for the one colour guaranteed to come with freckles and a lifetime of low-level bullying?

At least, that's what I'm told. Not being ginger, I've no idea what they go through. I imagine the comment editor was looking for an outsider's perspective when he asked me to tackle this subject.It is true that, now and again, I meet some short-sighted idiot who mistakes my auburn thatch for a bag of carrots. But the fact is, I have strawberry blond hair. And as there's no room for a picture on this page , you'll just have to take my word for it. And what's wrong with being ginger anyway?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Would you fork out to spend time on Sting's Tuscan estate?  

Happy to pay for the privilege of picking olives? Then Sting might have a job for you...

John Walsh
Clockwise from top: Zafran Ramzan, Razwan Razaq (main picture), Adil Hussain, Umar Razaq and Mohsin Khan were sentenced for grooming teenage girls for sex in 2010.  

Nothing can make up for the trauma of Rotherham's abused young girls, but many more heads must roll

Jane Merrick
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?