You’d find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair.
Red Hair is a hair color with strong but distinct cultural associations on both Earth and in Eden. On the Earth of the Clarkwoods Literary Universe, redheads are perceived in much the same way as they are on the Earth of the real world—prone towards fiery tempers, sharp tongues, and heightened sex drives—but in the land of Eden, gingers are revered for their intuition, their wit, and their zest for life.
In Eden, redheads are viewed as the most beautiful and competent beings in existence.
Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.
In humans, red hair is a rare trait most common in individuals with two copies of recessive allele on their sixteenth chromosome. Although twice as common on the Earth of the Clarkwoods Literary Universe as on the Earth of the real world—perhaps owing to the author’s fondness for the trait—redheads remain rare. They comprise only 4% of the general population on CLU Earth and up to 12% of the population of northern and western Europe (and the descendants of said peoples).
Red hair in elves and halflings occurs in a similar percentage of those populations.
By contrast, in dwarves, red hair is quite common. Gingers make up 33% of their general population, with percentages rising to as high as 60% in populations which dwell primarily underground.
I’m a ginger, and there’s not much more fun you can get… And I think that’s why there’s a lot of resentment toward the ginger community. We’re vikings, essentially.
A seemingly positive stereotype is still a stereotype, and can put just as much pressure on an individual as something more negative might. The Earthling stereotypes about gingers mentioned above might be seen by some as “good things,” but consider this passage from redhead author Jacky Collis Harvey’s Red: A History of the Redhead:
As I grew older, the list of things I was allowed to do, simply because of the color of my hair, increased. I was allowed to be impulsive. I was allowed to be hot-blooded and passionate (once I reached the age for boyfriends and relationships, it seemed I was almost required to be). …I must be Irish. Or Scottish. I must be artistic. I must be spiritual. Was I by any chance psychic? And I must be good in bed. There’s a point where all those “musts” start taking on the tone of a command. She’s a redhead. That was all the world need know, apparently, to know me.
Because the trait remains almost as rare on CLU Earth as on real-world Earth, the pressures faced by redheads to fulfill seemingly positive cultural stereotypes remain. And they face and have faced throughout history the same prejudice and discrimination as their real-world counterparts.
During the medieval period, redheads were believed by many to be afflicted with “a beastly sexual desire and moral degeneration” (Wikipedia). In Spain and Italy, during the same timeframe, “people of red hair were identified as Jewish and isolated for persecution” (ibid). Even into the modern age, redheads faced harrassment and violence in certain places of the world. Stabbings, beatings, sex crimes, and suicides were reported in Britain and elsewhere.
This is perhaps one reason why so many Earthling redheads who find themselves refugees in Eden will do anything they can to remain in that purgatorial paradise.
I like redheads; their mouths are like a drop of strawberry jam in a glass of milk.
In Eden, where sapient species from across the most recently collapsed universe gather to decide what’s next for reality, redheads are far less rare. And so, while still uncommon, they are not judged in quite the same way. Perhaps owing to the halfling veneration of the copper-headed Glinda the Good—and the fact that halflings, as the only species to remain in Eden permanently, are the dominant form of intelligent life here—gingerphobia and gingerism are not tolerated.
And because of the continued heroic actions of the aforementioned Glinda, not to mention the goddess Eden’s preference for appearing with flame-colored tresses, the land which bears the goddess’ name is a place where redheads are treasured and studied (so as to heal wounds carried with them from the places where they originated) and loved.
Loved, most of all.
It was like autumn, looking at her. It was like driving up north to see the colors.
I do have a weakness for redheads. I blame my over consumption of 80's fantasy and comic books!
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E. Christopher Clark
Ha! Yes, the creators in the 80s certainly influenced my weakness for redheads too.
I definitely had to check this out as soon as I got the notice given that I am a redhead myself. I have gone down some pretty interesting genetic rabbit holes with the hair color and love geeking out about it. I'm old enough now that I don't really get a lot of crap about my hair, but I hated it as a kid. A place like Eden would have been especially great for little kid me. Probably still nice for now me too. I enjoyed your article and for making a place for redheads to be appreciated. <3
E. Christopher Clark
Aw, yay! This is the reaction I was hoping for. :-) And I'm so glad that you're getting less crap about your hair now than when you were a kid.
I'm obviously biased as a redhead myself, but I loved this article! Although I've done some of my own research, your work brought to light some more, so I always appreciate that. I also enjoy finding out about my "moral degeneration"! The quotes you sprinkled throughout really add to the article as well.
E. Christopher Clark
:-) Glad you enjoyed it! I'm reading Red: A History of the Redhead by Jacky Colliss Harvey, and some of the stuff people believe or have believed about redheads is just crazy.