Friday, June 25, 2010

Advance Aust-ranga Fair

Julia Gillard was sworn in as Australia's first female prime minister yesterday after a leadership vote in the ruling Labour Party ousted Kevin Rudd. I’m proud of this sign of Australia’s commitment to gender equality and offering a “fair go” to all people, regardless of their class, gender or race. However, instead of debating her policy positions or proposed changes for the country, the numerous comments online about the leadership coup mostly centre around the fact that Ms Gillard is a (gasp!) redhead.

A carrot top

A ginger ninja


Big Red (as Uncle Evan used to call me)



Copper top

A ranga

The latter nickname for redheads, ranga, is derived from orangutan, the red-haired ape. The term became popular after it was used in Chris Lilley’s ABC television series “Summer Heights High” a few years ago. The following is a transcript from the show:

Doug: “Why did you take his bag Jonah?”
Jonah: “He’s a ranga sir”
Doug: “A what?”
Jonah: “A ranga. He has red hair. People are racist to us sir… so we can be racist to rangas”
Doug: “But redheads aren’t a race Jonah”
Jonah: “But sir there’s heaps of ‘em… they’re everywhere!” 

So Julia Gillard has been labeled “The hottest ranga in Parliament”, and 2010 is now “The Year of the Ranga”. 

Some people accept the jokes as amusing, just part of our Aussie humour. Others find the term insulting and derogatory. A parenting forum I frequent compared the nickname ranga to the N-word used with regard to African-Americans which can be used as a term of endearment or insult depending on who is doing the name-calling.

I am one of the 1-2% of the human population blessed with red hair. Let it be known that the term ranga does not bother me at all. However, I think we redheads are welcome to use the nickname to describe ourselves if we choose, but the rest of you are best to leave it alone. Because you know what they say about redheads and their tempers!

And I seriously doubt that the colour of Julia Gillard’s hair will have any impact on the way she does her job as Prime Minister.

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