We have mothers’ day, we have grandparents’ day, we have children’s day and we have teachers’ day. The proliferation of such days does get me a little cynical at times, but asides from the commercial aspect; they are all positive, loving days designed to honour a group in our community.
This Friday we have ‘Hug-a-Ginga’ day, which seems to me to be to be a radio station’s big marketing stunt. Not being a commercial radio station listener, or a red-head, I hadn’t given much attention to this day in previous years. But this year the ‘Hug-a-Ginga’ concept has attracted a bigger debate, and this got me thinking.
To me, ‘Hug-a-Anybody’ day gives the notion that this group is not used to being hugged, that on this one day of the year we should try and extend some charity and bless them with our sympathy. Transpose ‘ginga’ with any of the following: Pakeha, Maori, Fattie, Asian, Gay... you see my point.
Is 'gingerism' the last acceptable prejudice?
My adult red-headed friends take this day in good nature and play along and enjoy the comedy aspect and the extra attention. And I think this was probably how the day was intended to be ‘celebrated’. But my concern is for children. Red-headed kids cop more than their fair share of teasing as it is. Children ostracise those with differences and it is made worse when adults (indeed, media celebrities) are sanctioning and encouraging this bullying.
This Friday, red-headed kids will have to play along with the ‘Hug-a-Ginga’ concept, or risk being further ostracised. I personally would feel violated if someone hugged me uninvited out of pity and charity. (And in schools, I can’t imagine many of these ‘Hug-a-Ginga’ acts will come from a position of love). With a bullying culture a real problem in most of our schools and a horrific youth suicide rate, is the promotion of prejudice based on genetics and the promotion of bullying based on hair colour really something to celebrate?
26/5/2010 05:47:41 am
yes. how to make it unacceptable? for me, it's in a social gathering, where people make jokes. it shows how deep this prejudice is that it takes a lot of courage (for me at least) to say, while everyone else is laughing, "it's not cool to make fun of people because of how they look".
30/5/2010 10:25:25 pm
Thanks Rach - this celebration makes me feel a bit quesy, and I love what you have written about it. Well said. It helped me make up my mind (instead of dodging having a view) that I don't support this day. I love my red head friends, and blonde and brunette, dark haired...and I hug them all when I feel like it!
30/5/2010 10:25:49 pm
Oh and my no haired husband xx
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Rachel is a writer and educator whose fields of interest include sexuality education, gender, feminism and youth development.