Bullying And Discrimination Against Redheads: A Reader Comments

My post the other day linked to my Above The Law article about bosses who bully – and bully their best people!   I concluded with a short comment about the historic bullying and discrimination (and worse) against people with red hair – “gingerism.”  (See Why Do Bully Bosses Bully Their Stars – And Redheads?)

A reader emailed me the following comment:

“I just read your article on bullying and I just wanted to add some perspective (and fun facts) as a redhead, and thank you for including redheads in a discussion of bullying, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, which is historically a dangerous day for natural redheads to take the train in NYC.

Redheadedness that comes with the MC1R gene also comes with some other weird mutations, such as extreme sensitivity to sunlight, increased sensitivity to temperature related pain, and increased resistance to other kinds of pain (http://sciencenordic.com/redheads-feel-different-kind-pain). This, in turn, tends to make redheads oddly standoffish compared to their childhood cohort when it comes to outdoor activities, which sets us apart early on. It also leads to adults who have a slightly different concept of pain and fear. Add to that abuse the pervasive myth that our ire is just ‘that famous redhead temper’ and its easy to just ignore what we have to say about it.

Additionally, in many places there is an additional component of racism, where one group decides that redheadedness is an identifying characteristic of another group because it is more common. Most obviously, you might think of the Irish, but the phenomenon is not exclusive and it has been tied to other ethnicities as well.

Anyway, I really liked your article, and wanted to thank you for including us in the article. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to ask to be a protected class, but I do think its a good thing to talk about.



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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]