Objectification

 Trigger Warning:
This blog will discuss my opinion, thoughts and discomfort with being a redhead, and therefore a wanted commodity. It's my opinion. I'm not trying to change minds, or even ask opinion, only really looking at my feelings on it. I'm sure that this post will upset and possibly piss off redhead fans, of which there are multitudes, and possibly redheads themselves. I'm not trying to do that. I'm merely working through something that's bothering the fuck out of me.

At the risk of sounding like a whiny little git, I am feeling a little odd this morning. I don't even know why this bothers me, and to be completely frank-- I'm not bothered, but more weirded out, maybe. Confused? My friend has a thing for red headed women; a lot of men, and women, do. The other day he shared a photo on Facebook, from a group called, "I love Redheads". This girl was a typical, young looking redhead, complete with big brown, sultry eyes, making love to the camera. Facebook doesn't, technically, allow porn, so I was very curious; I took a look at this fan page, and immediately felt strange. Out of place. Even, weirdly enough, objectified-- and I'm not sure how I feel about it, other than distinctly uncomfortable. [I wasn't featured on this page, thank the digital gods, I'd have thrown a fit!]

I have strawberry blonde hair, with a sprinkle of white. It's going curly, as I get older-- it used to be pin straight, now it's got a very pronounced wave. I hacked it off about chin length about four months ago, so it's brushing my shoulders now-- not nearly as long as it was when my blog photo was taken. In the right light, it's the colour of copper; some times it looks more blonde. It is thick, and soft. Always, it's pretty, and healthy, and shines. I've got the freckles that seem to go hand-in-hand with the hair, too, on my shoulders and back, and a sprinkle of them on my face.

My paternal Grandmother had auburn hair; it was almost chestnut brown, but then the sun lit it up like a rainbow of red and orange, and gold. She had beautiful hair. My maternal great-grandmother was a ginger when she was young, and it lightened to blonde as she aged. My Dad has a red moustache, well, grey and red, even though his hair is brown. His sister has strawberry hair, as does her daughter. My sister's hair was auburn when she was younger, but she's gone lighter now, and it's blonde. Even my youngest son is a redhead, it's auburn, just like my grandma's hair was. I have cousins who are gingers, redheads, auburn and almost all of us are freckled in one way or another.

Thing is, we are real people. We have feelings, and can't be described by any one thing-- let alone our hair. Shit, it'll fall out, whiten, grey or even blonde or brunette some day. It's hair!

I can't tell you the number of people who assume, that as a redhead, I'm loud, annoying, angry all the time, short-tempered, sultry, sexy, a complete slut, a whore, someone who will fuck anything that moves, a worthless wanna-be porn star, a waste of space, stupid, that freckles equal ugly and my personal favourite, "Someone who wishes she was blonde."

This fan page was photo after photo of women; no men that I saw. All of them were making love to the camera, and maybe three-quarters were professional models-- or photos done up in a pro fashion. While I am sure it's meant as a celebration of the various shades of red out there, I feel insulted.

Part of me is annoyed with myself. I mean, shit, it's just hair, right? I can shave it all off, for all that matters, colour is blue [which I've done], it's just hair. So why make a big deal out of it?

Another part of me is irritated by that fan page, altogether! For years, the idea is that blondes "have more fun" and brunettes are the sturdy, nurturing women that men want to "settle down with" and have a family. Red heads are generally reviled in many parts of the world-- look at the UK, they actually have an unofficial holiday called, "Kick a Ginger Day". Kick a Ginger?! What the fuck is that?!

Here in the US we're deemed exotic, turned into objects, much like Asian women: we are different! Some people find us desirable only because of that difference, only because we're supposedly so rare. This leads to some awkward conversations. Amongst other ones, I've had the "No, I don't want to sleep with you, so you can say you've 'had a redhead'," Or "No, I don't look anything like Felicia Day," and even the "No, redheads aren't all angry sex bests," conversations. I've even fielded questions about where my freckles go, and whether or not they cover my entire body... yeah, even that one-- it was a terrible chat up, let me tell you! I just looked at the guy and said, "You will never know where they go, will you?" as I walked away.

I'm not sure if I should be flattered, or annoyed.

I don't have any problem with my friends being "fans" of that Facebook page*. Shit, I don't care if every single person who stumbles onto this blog fans them. It's a personal choice thing, as I see it, and if you really "love redheads" then I guess, go for it?

What I'm having a problem with isn't the fan page. It's not even the sometimes breathless screams of fan bois: "OMG I wanna red head of my own!" It's like we're collectible cards-- with holograms?-- or something. I think a good portion of the men who do that think we're magic, and while I joke about being magical, it doesn't have anything to do with my hair.

I'm having a problem with the sudden objectification of my hair colour. The commiditification, is that word? It should be! The making of my hair a commodity that Everyone Must Have!!!

Maybe it's not sudden, maybe women with red hair, gingers, strawberry blondes, have always had this... this weird fan-relationship with the majority of American men. Maybe I just missed it until lately.

I was teased pretty badly as a kid. If it wasn't the bright, white-blonde streaks my hair would get from the sun [What'd you do, dye your hair!?] it was the pale, almost translucent skin [what's wrong with you, are you albino or something?], the constant disbelief about the colour of my eyes [Are you wearing contacts-- which I get to this day, right, wearing contacts, under my fucking glasses! Gods, what wankers!] or the fact that my eyelashes are almost clear, they're so light [did you pull your eyelashes out?!]. I was always too tall, too thin, and too smart-- I have a pretty smart mouth, and have always been sarcastic to the nth degree. Mostly, it was my hair though. My hair got a lot of nasty comments, pulled and yanked and once, I was threatened by a kid on my bus-- he was going to hack it off with a knife, because it was ugly.** I know I'm not alone in the harassment over hair-- plenty of stories are out there about redheads being attacked, picked on, yelled at and even beaten up over the colour our hair is when it leaves our follicles.

As I got older, sarcasm was more likely to be embraced as smart; my not-tan meant I was being careful and taking care of myself, and my eyelashes got mascara-ed. The hair derision stayed around, though. The hair meant I was a barely-leashed sex-beast! I was half a moment from explosive anger; I was never truly in control of myself, and some how made everyone around me lose control, too. All the negative stereotypes about my hair have been thrown at me, including shit people just decided to make up, and I just shrugged it off. I figured they were just morons, and it wasn't up to me to educate them about the mutation of a gene-set that caused hair and skin and eyes to be lighter. That's all it is, a mutation, nothing super special really. Fuck them and their stupid.

I never stopped to think about how I felt about those stereotypes, though-- the two that I've dealt with the most being that all redheads are raging nymphos [now called hyper-sexuality] and that we are all angry, all the time-- or are seconds away from snapping about something and cannot control our tempers. I think ignoring them has done a disservice to myself.

While I do get angry, it's pretty rare for me to lose it. I'm your basic ranter, not a thrower of things. I don't lost my temper that often, either. I do get upset, peeved and even occasionally angry, but losing my temper takes a great deal. I have what's known as a slow-fuse, and always have had. Often, even when I'm good and pissed off, I don't get angry, because the asshole pissing me off isn't worth the energy it takes to get angry. I snap off some sarcastic, stinging remark and quirk an eyebrow as they slink away. Some times, I just quirk the eyebrow, and they can't even handle that! I am very good at "the look".

Being thought of as an almost-always-ready-to-explode person was one thing I feel I can still laugh off. Evidently anyone accusing my of that doesn't know me, or else I wouldn't be hearing about how "feisty" redheads are-- which often means "easy to anger" as opposed to when I use it to mean full of life, that proverbial "moxie", or piss and vinegar.

I can  understand where people got the idea, of a redhead being a "hot head". Fire is reddish, and humans make stupid associations with colour. It's easy to figure out where it came from, but not why it's stayed around. Probably the fact that stereotypes breed laziness. Maybe a portion of it is from people telling us we're angry all the time! Or telling us to calm down when we get animated about anything. Wouldn't that make anyone mad? I'd think it would.

This isn't to say I'm a pushover. I'm far from that. I'm just not always looking for a fight. I'm ready to stand up for myself and the people I love, but I won't go looking for trouble [unless it's politics, and then yes, I go looking for a fight sometimes... because arguing about politics with witless people is fun!] So I suppose there is some truth to that stereotype, at least with me, that this redhead is feisty. Not angry, though, and not quick to lose my temper... just feisty.

As for being hyper-sexual, though. I don't know where that one comes from. I've heard it partly from the Jewish legend of Lilith-- Adam's first wife. But I don't know. Kramer and Sprenger taught that witches were redheaded-- as a mark of our evilness, and that of course meant we were sexually insatiable. I think they were closeted self-loathing gay men, and that's why they hated women so much, but I have no scholarly proof of that. [You can download the Malleus Maleficarum here, if you like. It makes for horrifying reading.]

Maybe it's more of the fire thing? I don't know. I do know that I've been told my sex drive rivals that of a 18 year old boy. I just say you're lucky if you're in my bed, then aren't you?

Does this mean I'm going to fuck everything that moves? No.
Does this mean I'm incapable of commitment? No again.

It merely means that I've got a normal-for-me interest in sexuality and being sexual with someone I care about. It means I have hormones... and that's normal.

It also means that I've had to explain again and again that no, I'm not a wife or husband stealer. I don't want to get in a relationship with someone if they're with someone else. I do think that's projection, from the accuser-- because you're feeling insecure about your relationship, or are thinking of cheating, don't blame it on the closest redhead. We don't want to fuck your partner-- that's your job.

I still don't understand when red hair got turned into a much vaunted, desired commodity. I don't know when it went from something reviled, at least here in the US, and turned into something so desired that there are fan pages dedicated to us. I have always known about niche porn, and yes, redheaded women figure in it. [hence the oft-accused "you just all want to be porn stars, you attention whore!"] So, when did we stop being niche, and become mainstream sex objects?

The better question is, do I want to be a mainstream sex object?

The answer, is no. Not on your life!

I have enough trouble with my giraffe-opotomus self, I don't need any more pressure from anyone else while trying to deal with my body issues. I have enough trouble dealing with my own insecurities, I don't need them being compounded by "all redheads are teh sexah!"

See, I don't fit that ideal. I never have, and I never will. It's punishing enough to a woman's ego and sense of self-worth to know she's too tall, too chubby, or too too, without adding in the commodity-making of being desirable for one physical trait. It's the same thing with large breasted women-- they are more than their bra size, and yet, that one trait is all they are recognised for having-- their sense of self is secondary to the American male's sense of "Titties!!!"

I guess I can't fault women for embracing their newly awesomely desirable status as "redheaded woman". Everyone, ultimately, does want to be wanted. It makes you feel good about yourself, to know someone desires you.

I just don't want to be only wanted for that. I don't want my hair to be my one sexy characteristic... to be the one thing that makes me desirable. I don't want to be compared to other redheads-- because this one has more freckles, or that one has more ginger to my strawberry. I don't want to be compared,  in yet another way, to other women. I don't want to feel even less about myself because redheads are the new sexy-- and so newly open to being picked apart in the way that blonde women are long accustomed.

I have joked before that "once you have a [relationship with a] redhead, you'll be forever changed!" But that was always a joke. I've joked that we're magical, or special, because, I don't even know what, and of course that makes us sexah... but I only ever did that in small company and only as an obvious joke. I don't think my hair makes me any sexier than any other woman-- it's just hair.

Just hair. Not my personality, not my eyes that crinkle when I smile... not my sense of humour, or fair play. Not my goofy, random ways of bursting into song, or my faux innocent look, when I'm being silly. My hair doesn't have anything to do with my thoughts, or feelings, with my ideas or imagination. It's just hair.

Maybe part of this newly emergence of redhead lust is merely a side effect of the Internet. Being able to get together, even just digitally, with people who share your interests has been a boon to many of us introverted people. Maybe this redhead adoration is just people coming out with their preferences in a safe way. Maybe, it is meant with only the very best of intentions, to show love and support to those of us who have been tormented over our follicles.

It still smacks of exotic-fetishisation, and I don't like that. While you may have a thing for redheads, I don't want to be your thing! I don't want to be reduced to hair colour, I don't want to be an object. Objects are owned-- and goddammit, women are objectified too much in this country! I am not a thing, I cannot be owned, and damn you all to hell if you think it's OK to do that. The GOP is already turning women into things, trying to take away our agency, unable to do anything without their permission, so why would anyone pile on?

Asian-American women have long dealt with this, their "exotic" faces making them different, and therefore more desirable-- they are reduced to the ideas that men project upon them, the adorable kawaii, the submissive, the worshipful partner... In the interest of being as honest as I can, and what I know about the fetishisation of Asian woman, I should probably say Korean- and Japanese-American women, and instead of exotic, I should say, "not blue eyed, or Hispanic"... but you get the idea.

I don't think men who self-identify as "redhead lovers" think of it like that; in the same way most men who dig Asian woman think of their preferences as objectifying women. They just know they dig that feature, or set of features. If they were told, and really thought about it, they'd probably be mortified that such an idea was being portrayed; most people don't want to turn others into objects for lust-satisfaction. Most people want to get into mutually satisfying relationships, and I'm sure that most men in relationships with redheaded women are.

I'm not saying that every fan on that page looks at us as wanking material, our only worth as aid for a quick jerk , or as a one-dimensional sex toy. In fact, I'm sure most do not.

That doesn't mean I feel any less objectified after seeing that fan page. I can see where you're coming from, and still not agree with you-- or feel less upset by where you've been.

I want to be wanted for all of me. Not the colour of my hair.
I want to be wanted for my brains, and heart... not turned into an object, collectively owned by members of a group of redhead fetishists.
I don't want to be defined by one mutation, that I just happen to have, and carry the genes for.

I guess being objectified isn't something one can avoid, though-- not really, not today. If the new sexy is redheads, I'll be counted. Until brunettes take over again, or blondes, and then I guess we redheads can go back to being nymphomaniacs with bad tempers?


Now, I'm sure I'm "not being fair" to the members of that fan page. And really, that doesn't matter to me. I don't know why they clicked "Like", or why the admin(s) created it. I'm sure it was meant in the best way, same as the Oreo cookie fan page, or the I fucking love Science page-- both of which I have "liked".

The thing is, at its most basic, this blog isn't about how the administrators or fans feel about redheaded women. If there were photos of men on there, I would have geared this blog as more gender inclusive-- I didn't see any! This blog is about how I feel about it; about how I interpreted that fan page, the photos, and the way that women are constantly shown new and improved ways to debase ourselves into things. I am more than the sum of my parts, and yet, groups like that, even celebrating such things are hair, don't really come across as celebrating anything, so much as making that one thing into a fetish.

I am a woman.
I am strong and powerful.
I am intelligent.
I am thoughtful, a good friend and a considerate lover.
I am an activist, a cat rescuer, a politician pesterer.
I tell a good joke, and can laugh without feeling self-conscious.
I am honest and try very hard to be kind.
I love with every fibre of my spirit.
I am a sex goddess.
I just happen to have red hair.

I am not, however, an object.
I can't be moulded, shaped or recreated.
I can't be turned into anyone's perfect woman.
I think, feel and am, whole, in myself.
I am not here to make another person whole.
I am not a thing, not a toy, not owned by anyone.
I am not collective property.
I just happen to have red hair.

Maybe we women just need to accept that we are ourselves, and not owned. Maybe then we could celebrate our hair without making love to the cameras, without giving it our best bedroom eyes, without sexualising our hair in order to be accepted.

Until then, I"ll be here, being myself, my non-object self. I give that look to my husband, but I don't really feel the need to share it with the entire Internet, via Facebook-- it's a very sexy, smouldering look, and I don't think you're ready for such a fire to be lit in your soul. Besides, I'm not a thing, and I don't have to share that look; I don't have to share the grin, the bright shining eyes. Not unless I want to, and definitely not with fucking Facebook.




*Yes, my friend, if you're reading this, I mean it. Celebrate and sexify redheads to your heart's content. I'm not going to yell at you, or be disappointed, or anything negative. Just don't talk to me about it, OK?

**He didn't cut my hair. I think he was bluffing, but I do remember being scared by that.

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