Redheads: Last targets of acceptable discrimination

Gingerism is the last socially acceptable form of discrimination, according to the author of a new book exploring the history of red-headedness.

Writer Jacky Colliss Harvey will discuss the discrimination many redheads around the world still face when she gives a talk at the Irish Redhead Convention in Co. Cork later this week.

The flame-haired author’s new book, ‘Red - A Natural History of the Redhead’, examines the history of red hair through the ages, as well as focusing on modern-day attitudes to people with red hair.

“Prejudice against redheads goes back thousands and thousands of years to the time of the ancient Greeks and later across medieval Europe.

“I think people are hard-wired to react to red as a colour and as a species we seem to have a psychological need to judge an ‘other’ - and if not someone with red hair, it’s another minority group.

“Unfortunately 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. It’s one of the last great social prejudices,” she said.

A University College Cork-based study last year found that as many as nine out of ten ginger-haired men worldwide have been the victims of bullying.

And Colliss Harvey, a University of Cambridge graduate, agreed that the experience for red-headed males tends to be far more negative than female counterparts.

Although Collis Harvey doesn’t believe gingerism can be practically tackled by expanding the definition of hate crime laws, she said more needs to be done to tackle the problem of bullying and discrimination.

The Redhead Convention runs from next Friday to Sunday in Crosshaven. For more information, see


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