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Real people – gingers have souls

The world’s largest sperm bank, Cyros in Denmark, has recently stopped accepting sperm from redheaded men. Representatives say the demand just isn’t there; women only want redheaded sperm if their partners have red hair or if they just like the hair color. I guess the women purchasing sperm don’t really understand genetics; just because you have sperm from a redheaded male does not mean, ladies and gentleman, you will produce redheaded offspring. The gene variants associated with red hair are recessive, which means the mother would have to carry the gene variants as well. So all these picky mothers-to-be are just afraid of their own recessive genes they may be toting around.

This huge rejection of redheads brought me to think about my own congenital condition: being a “ginger.” I didn’t hear this term until high school (Thank you, “South Park”), and since then, it has spread through America like rapid fire (no pun intended). The term is derogatory or just okay, depending on my mood, but I have never really taken it as a compliment. I don’t really go around labeling people, so I don’t know why I should have a label stamped on me. I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions floating around out there about people with red hair, and someone has to stand up and represent the ginger community.

My marriage and family professor last semester pointed out that since white people are the majority in the United States, they don’t wake up and think, “Ugh, my alarm is going off, and so another day as a white person begins,” like minorities may about their respective races. Wrong. I definitely wake up every morning and think, “I don’t want to get up because it means I’ll have to put on sunscreen and face another day in the world of brunettes and blondes.” Redheads are the smallest minority, you see, with only one to two percent of the world having red hair. We can’t all hang around each other because that would be too much paleness for anyone’s eyes to handle. We have to spread ourselves out amongst the common folk; no friend group is complete without a token redhead.  If you already have your token redhead friend, good for you! If you don’t, you should really put this paper down and go befriend a ginger. We are great people! We develop a sense of humor and good personality at a young age as a defense mechanism against endless taunts of “carrot top.” We also command the attention of any room we’re in (whether it be good or bad attention), and if you are around old people, forget about it. For some reason, redheads are the favorites amongst the elderly. We don’t know why, but we’re not going to ask; we just accept it. There seems to be this rumor that all redheads know each other, that we have secret meetings or have a support group. People, we’re redheads, not alcoholics. I don’t ask you if you know every person with dark hair I know; that would take a long time and is just ridiculous in general.

Unfortunately, not everyone embraces red hair like they should. Redheads have a history of being sacrificed, burned at the stake and ostracized, all because of their hair color. Even though some countries consider red hair rare and beautiful, redheads still face “gingerism,” a colloquialism for the prejudice redheads face in countries such as England, presumably because of the country’s tumultuous past with Ireland. There have been recorded hate crimes against redheads, and, in 2009, a little boy committed suicide because of taunts of being called “ginger” and “ginge,” amongst other things. “Ginge” is a more derogatory term used in western Europe. Many people argue gingerism should be considered a form of racism, considering redheads have faced a history of unfair treatment based on appearance and have gene variants that cause differences in skin tone and hair color and texture.

So, as you roam around the world today, look around you and appreciate the array of colors of people. Without redheads, we wouldn’t have Richard the Lionheart, Henry VIII, Winston Churchill, Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Jefferson or numerous contemporary celebrities including Julia Roberts, Conan, Julianne Moore and Seth Green. And, most importantly, we wouldn’t be entertained with the day-to-day antics of Lindsay Lohan.

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