The Wrong Blonde Joke
‘A blonde cop stops a blonde motorist and asks for her driving license. The Motorist scuffles around in her purse and can’t find it. She says to the cop, “I must have left it at home officer.” The cop says, “Well, do you have any kind of identification?” The motorist scuffles around in her purse again, and finds a pocket mirror. She looks at it and says to the cop, “All I have is this picture of myself.” The cop says, “Let me see it, then.” So the blonde motorist gives the mirror to the blonde cop, who looks at it, and replies, “Well, if I had known you were a police officer, I wouldn’t have even pulled you over. You can go now.”’.
For every joke that exists about an Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman; there is one about a blonde woman. A simple internet search reveals a wealth of material aimed at blondes and one website advertises itself as; ‘One of the largest collections of dumb blonde jokes on the internet! The Queen Mother of all blonde jokes sites’. The image of the ‘dumb blonde’ is as familiar as the dim-witted paddy but does however transcend the boundaries of humour and harmless one-liners when it becomes a vitriolic prejudice in everyday life.
I encountered my first taste of this preconceived axiom when I was fifteen. The class was debating media and marketing in relation to blondes and brunettes and one particular girl; the self-righteous, self-regarding mouth of the class, stood up and declared very clearly that blonde women can be identified by the fact that they ‘put make-up on with a trowel’. I wish now, all these years later, that I had stood up to illustrate that I (being blonde) was wearing not a stitch of make-up and she (brunette) was wearing considerably more. Sadly I didn’t but it has grieved me ever since. I find it incredible that this unembarrassed ignorance and chauvinism towards blonde women is completely acceptable and familiar when every other form of bigotry (such as homophobia, racism and sexism) is now firmly unacceptable. Why are women with blonde hair expected to accept vehement abuse and ridicule when people of varying ethnicities and sexualities no longer have to? There are laws and regulations in force in the work place to prevent against almost every form of prejudice and discrimination and yet having blonde hair still apparently makes a woman fair game.
I was astounded while watching a recent episode of Come Dine with Me when the narrator; commenting on a female contestant who was behaving in a slightly giddy and ditsy way, jibed; ‘Are you sure you’re not blonde?’. I was dumfounded. If the contestant had been behaving differently, would the narrator have been allowed to ask; ‘Are you sure you’re not black?’ or ‘Are you sure you’re not disabled?’. Those forms of racism and bigotry are completely unacceptable and contemptible and would be met with shock and outrage, so why is the question; ‘Are you sure you’re not blonde’ met with chuckles and light-hearted joviality? The programme, aired on Chanel 4 on weekday afternoons, is sadly only a representation of a common and expected attitude the world over.
On the social networking site Facebook, members can participate in quizzes with names like ‘Are You Blonde?’ and the nauseating and repulsive taglines; ‘See how stupid you are’ and ‘Find out if your blonde or normal’. As I try to comprehend how a distinction between ‘blonde’ and ‘normal’ can be made and the fact that they are even offered as two opposites, I’m sickened by the acerbic and malicious odium behind apparently flippant and innocuous sentiments. The caustic negativity towards blonde women is masked by humor and playful banter but statements like the above examples contain rancorous and barbed derision and seem to passive-aggressively attack the subject rather than mock.
As a naturally blonde woman I find that I’m defending myself on a daily basis, having to assure people that I’m not an idiot and remonstrate my own common sense against their assumptions of my stupidity. People either assume that anyone with blonde hair must unquestionably be a ‘bimbo’ or if not, feel that they have the right to make jokes to the same effect at your expense. I agree completely that the many young, attractive women who dye their hair blonde and morph into tanned, plastically enhanced Barbie dolls to compensate for their lack of intellectualism, while not making them any less deserving of defence, does give women who just happen to be born with blonde hair a bad press. I agree that there are many women who would fall completely within the bounds of the ‘bimbo’ stereotype, which is unfair but true. There are many unintelligent blonde women, just as there are many unintelligent brunette women. It doesn’t make them bad people, they just mould themselves into a particular typeset. Unfortunately for the rest of us, all blonde women become tarred with the same brush, as it were.
The fact that I was born with blonde hair, a result of having two blonde parents, does not automatically make me a ‘bimbo by default, in the same way that an Asian man would defend his right not be assumed to be a terrorist, or a German defend their right not to be categorized as a Nazi. Stereotypes exist but are not without exceptions.
The film Legally Blonde and its subsequent sequel are based entirely on the premise that it is incredible and remarkable that a blonde woman could successfully be accepted to study law at university and, shock of almighty shocks, graduate! An entire film based on the belief that a blonde woman couldn’t possibly study law, how preposterous! I’d love to make a list of all the blonde female lawyers and partners in law firms I’ve worked for and send it to the people who made those films, but then they wouldn’t believe me, I’m blonde, and the film does after all have a very nice ending where the blonde girl lives happily ever after in spite of her blonde hair.
Caustic prejudice and ignorant mockery of any person based on a physical quality they have no control over should be as unacceptable and deplorable as derision based on skin colour, gender or anything else. The vitriol between the lines of blonde jokes and the aggressive, bigoted attitude towards blonde women is abhorrent, offensive and hurtful and blonde women should be given the same protection and understanding as any other group subject to prejudice. Blonde should be a status deserving of respect, just as any race or sexuality is. No two blonde women are the same, just as no two homosexual people are, or any two black people. Why do we allow other groups understanding but still condone and accept outrageous and unabashed degradation of blonde women?
A quick internet search reveals the second entry to be a Wikipedia page with the title ‘Dumb Blonde’. It is the initial reflex reaction; the caveat to the image of blonde hair. I find it difficult to comprehend why this prejudice is still allowed to flourish and feel exhausted on behalf of every intelligent woman in the world who spends her entire life proving and insisting that she is ‘not a bimbo’. Perhaps one day someone will see past the blonde hair and actually listen to what we’re saying.