UK Dopers - What's the Deal with "Gingers?"

On a number of British celebrity (gossip) or humor websites and in more than a couple of movies, I’ve heard remarks about redheaded or “ginger” headed people that ranged from mildly disparaging (or self-effacing) to outright rude or hurtful. This seems to be more of a working-class brand of humor, but I’ve seen enough of it that I’m left wondering.

What’s the deal with the derision of gingers?

Anyone have any insights to offer?

You wouldn’t ask that if you knew Chris Evans

Two words. Mick Hucknall.

I’ve heard ‘ginger’ pronounced with hard 'g’s as an insulting form of ‘ginger’… can’t explain more though.

They’re generally the target for insults because they’ve always been the target for insults. It’s something that can’t really be explained or rationalised, it just is.

If the original question was from someone so unfamiliar with British culture that “gingers” needed explanation, how do you expect this to help?

Funny enough, I asked this specifically because I spent some time today on the “1000 People More Annoying than Mick Hucknall” site, which is rife with such slagging, but certainly not fit for a link from here as it’s another forum and since the language there is not of GQ caliber. I had to think that there was something specific about it, but the “we’ve always done, so we always do” makes sense. Well, not sense in and of itself, but it’s as good an explanation as any.

Thanks all.

But for every Chris Evans there’s a Robbie Savage or a Jade Goody; for every Mick Hucknall there’s a Chris de Burgh or a Cliff Richard. Do we ridicule all blonds or dark-haired people? Do Nicole Kidman or Van Morrison or Robert Redford or Alyson Hannigan not adjust the balance in the other direction?

I suspect the true reason is displaced racism. As people have been told not to make fun of black or Asian people they’ve gone looking for some other blameless but conspicuous minority target. Why it should be a problem in Britain as opposed to other countries I cannot explain. Where did the blonde jokes start?

If any of these names are unfamiliar to an American audience don’t worry about it. Suffice to say that they are also unpopular or an acquired taste.

I’d agree that, at its worst, it’s generally displaced racism.

On average though, its no different from jokes/humour about Blondes, nerds, rugby lads, luvies etc. etc.

I must confess that i’m partial to a good ginger joke - but only in the right company where i know no offence will be taken.

I went out with a redheaded girl for 7 years. I told her that if she ever had a litter, I would be drowning all the ginger ones. She got the joke. Still hit me though.

Pronounciation note: it is indeed pronounced to rhyme with ‘zinger’, with a hard G to start.

Actually my ex-boss has just popped in to show us the photos of her new twins. First thing she said was “…and sadly this one seems to take after his father and has a touch of ginger. The poor thing.” :slight_smile:

Gingers (to mime with Mingers) have always been the subject of ridicule (at least they were in the 60s when I was little, and still are).

I think it’s because they’ve got freckles and piggy eyes.

There’s also something seriously amiss with their pubes.

Owl - proper mature now but no fan of Gingers.

Being the only non Ginger person in my family (both Brothers, Mum, Nan etc) I find that it is perfectly justified to mock all Gingers.

" Martin you Ginger tosser" Game On

I’m not sure it’s just us British.

I saw an Australian sports coach being interviewed on TV once, and when asked what he thought would happen if his team lost to their biggest rivals, he said…

“I think I’d be about as popular a ginger step-kid.”

Made me laugh.

I have heard the expression “beaten like a ginger step-child” to refer to a heavy sporting defaet.

Incidentally “ginger” means gay in London (ginger beer - queer).

More ginger bashing fun here:

In the US, it’s a “red-headed step child” that’s unpopular. But that’s the only disparaging comment about redheads I can think of from the US. Does some of the UKers scorn come from the Irish/redhead connection?

(hmmm, I didn’t realize reheads were so scorned in the UK. Geez, like we already don’t put up with enough having always been the class freak and the skin of an albino. I spent an hour and half outdoors yesterday in the middle of freakin’ Febuary and I’m lobster pink.)

In my experience, red hair is more a feature of our caricature Scotsman.

The ginger thing is just a tease, there’s no actual venom towards redheads. My sister is married to a ginger – when pregnant with their first kid, she said she didn’t mind what it was so long as it didn’t have ginger hair and freckles (to her relief all three kids have turned out blond).

Ginger hair is more associated with the sweaties:

and its all good natured anyway.

Now if we were talking about the welsh, that would be a different matter. Very different indeed.

Yes, it could be seen as a form of racism. Unfortunately there is long history of anti - red hair in a number of cultures.Being different is either “special” or “evil”.
Some actually killed red headed babies. There is a tradition of representing Judas with red hair.

Cleopatra was a redhead.

Explanation by example.

And I’m joking. :wink: