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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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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?

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