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Not offended or angry, but quizzical
Why is this joke, which was extremely funny and completely unacceptable when told about Paddy the Irishman, suddenly acceptable when told about blondes?

Have we decided, as a culture, that it's acceptable to take the piss out of women who just happen to be blonde? Or do we really think that blondes are stupider? Can you imagine this joke being told about blond men? Note the classic strategem of apologising to the group maligned in the joke, too. ("Oh no, flick or hhfishlifter. I didn't mean you! Obviously you're not dumb. But everyone knows that 'blondes' in this joke means 'generic group of people mocked for their stupidity'.")

Both men and women shown pictures of blonde women judge them to be stupider than pictures of the same women with dark hair, red hair or grey hair. So I think it's a pretty safe bet that they're discriminated against at school and in the workplace too.

Blonde women tell tales of being systematically put down all through school because of their hair colour. And there are far more blonde jokes now than there used to be. Now, it's fine for adults to dye their hair whatever colour they like, but we don't normally encourage children to dye their hair. Is it reasonable to expect blonde girls to put up with people assuming they're stupid, and making jokes at the expense of their ethnic group?

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From my point of view it isn't. There's no reason to demean anyone for any physical feature, chosen career, nationality or other distinguishing characteristic. Unfortunately homo sapiens is naturally tribal, and as a result xenophobic rather than xenophiliac.

It's annoying and upsetting, and I have no idea what we can do about it...

We need to find an ethnic group that doesn't exist about whom to tell jokes. I vote for the Elbonians.

Or how about drummers?

I'll be having words with you later, Bisson.

A hit! A palpable hit!

How about people who quote Shakespeare? (or extend it to people who quote petry at length in ordinary conversations :-)

Actually, I'm a lot cooler about drummers. The difference, you see, is that drumming is a lifestyle choice. And this joke would have worked just fine with drummers, too.

I went blonde to match a dress and stayed because it's much more me; that might be a lifestyle choice.

the thing is, as a joke - it's funny. As a joke about blondes - it's offensive because it's laughing at a stereotype. It's both at once, like so much humour. The balance tends to lie in a mix of who tells it, why they tell it and how they tell it. Father Ted never seemed offensive because there was so much affection in it.

I've been thinking a lot about a recent line on the West Wing (is it Ok for colleagues to make comments about your appearance? I saw yes, if they treat you professionally anyway) and about the reaction to Estelle Morris resigning (women in public life getting judged at least in the media on different criteria from men). If we could get past this gender bias on ability and appearance we could enjoy blonde jokes without them being offensive - but would they be funny?

Just don't be dissin' filkers.

Some of my best friends are (samba) drummers...

When I was younger ...

... I remember joke books using "Martians" instead, though it does lead into jokes that start

"Two Martians walk into a bar, and Mick turns to Paddy and says ..."

A couple of the smartest women I've ever met were blonde, and one of them, in sixth form, acted the dumb blonde part wonderfully; bubbly, vivacious, social ... and when I asked what she was going to be doing at uni it turned out she was going to do medicine and was expected to get four A grade A-levels ...

... There's an interesting commentary about pretty girls and smart girls in, I think, Love & Rockets. Which basically (IIRC) divided girls (young women if you prefer) into three categories. Pretty (meaning that they could get what they wanted by looks and personality), Smart (which meant that they didn't have the looks so they had to apply intelligence) and Weird (good looking but still applied intelligence). The theory being that applied intelligence is there to achieve goals and takes effort, so if you have some way of achieving the goal without that effort, you're likely to not use your intelligence.

Blonde women, in many Western cultures, are usually regarded as the "prettiest" (Ulrika, Kylie, Cameron Diaz, generic cheerleader, Princess Di etc.) and as such are quite often spoiled as children and treated better (this is my theory, feel free to disagree). This means that they have found a perfectly valid way of achieving their goals without having to study hard (why "study hard" when you're told that you can get what you want by smiling, by the promise of sex, and that you'll be emotionally fulfilled by marrying a successful man and raising his children ... )

Yes, it's discrimination, as much as treating any particular race as "stupid" or "criminal" and the hard thing in that is that environment has such a major impact on academic achievment (I think it was either Estelle Morris or William Stubbs that said that of course A level grades were going up, more of the children had better educated parents and this was a well know and accepted factor in a child's achievement). If a child is raised in a society where petty theft is condoned and rewarded, they will take that as "the truth". If they are raised in an environment of violence, then again they are likely to believe violence is valid. And if they are raised in an environment where being cute and blonde gets you what you want, why would they study (unless they are forced to/encouraged to or are "weird" as mentioned above).

This is a vicious cycle/loop and it means that I'd love to see comparative IQ scores for differently coloured haired women in an area where there are no other ethnic factors (e.g. if there are a lot of Jews or Indians in the area, those cultures strongly value education, so it is likely that the children will be given time to study, encouragement to succeed academically etc. I believe this to be true, maybe this is racism, if so I need to learn better)

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