In A Nutshell
While many of us believe that prejudice against redheaded people is confined to ridiculous television shows like South Park, so-called “ginger discrimination” is unfortunately real. People have been verbally abused, shunned, and assaulted for the color of their hair. The world’s largest sperm bank has even stopped taking donations from redhaired men, citing low demand.
The Whole Bushel
In 2005, Comedy Central’s South Park released a ridiculous episode of the show called “Ginger Kids.” For many, this would be their introduction to discrimination against red heads. The show made ridiculous tongue-in-cheek claims, at one point claiming they have no souls and suffer from “gingervitis.” Most viewers understood its obvious satirical tone, but some teenagers naturally took things too far, visiting abuse on their redheaded classmates.
Red hair is caused by a recessive gene, and redheads are extremely scarce, comprising perhaps 1–2 percent of Earth’s population. Due to their comparative rarity, they have always been a subject of attention. Many world leaders were redheads, including Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Thomas Jefferson, and Winston Churchill. While many redheads are strikingly gorgeous, adored by blondes and brunettes alike, others are treated to serious derision. The problem is especially pervasive in the United Kingdom (Scotland, Ireland, and England), where approximately 10 percent of people are redheaded. Kids are frequently bullied in school, and the homes of redheads are vandalized.
Few cases of apparent ginger abuse hit as hard as that of Trent Speering of Sydney, Australia. On June 11, 2008, the 40-year-old paramedic shot his mother to death before turning the gun on himself. He left behind a note that claimed one of the reasons for the tragic murder-suicide was that “there is a lot of bigotry towards people with red hair in this workplace . . . and I’ve copped my share in a lifetime.”
This phenomenon is not limited to thugs, colleagues, or nasty schoolchildren. In 2011, Denmark’s Cryos International, the world’s largest sperm bank, put a halt on accepting sperm from red-haired donors. The bank’s director, Ole Schou explained the situation: “There are too many redheads in relation to demand. I do not think you choose a redhead, unless the partner—for example, the sterile male—has red hair, or because the lone woman has a preference for redheads. And that’s perhaps not so many, especially in the latter case.” In a ridiculous turn, he claimed that sperm from ginger men was quite popular in Ireland, going “like hotcakes.”