We bump into so many cute and perky redheads on TV today that it's sometimes disconcerting to journey into the past and be menaced by the likes of Clara Bow, Millie ("the red-headed woman"), Red-Headed Woman, Red-Haired Alibi, etc. Indeed, redheads seem to be one of the most fearsome menaces during the early years of the Great Depression, so I was in no way shocked to discover the attempted formation of club intended to tame their scourge:
Thankfully, a New York State Supreme Court justice stood up to this outrage:
The Anti Red-Head League wasn't making its discriminatory stand against all redheads. No, it's goals were far more sexist than that. The objects of the league, labeled A-F, only targeted red-headed women. I've transcribed those objects of the league for easier reading:
- A) To ‘collect and diffuse among its members accurate and reliable information concerning the anti-social character of red-headed females of every kind and nature with a view to prevent their preying upon males.’
- B) To ‘afford mutual protection to all members against domestic difficulties arising out of contact with red-headed females.’
- C) To ‘promulgate, print, publish, edit and prepare for general educational purposes, and disseminate our belief that the red-headed female constitutes a perpetual peril.’
- D) To offer membership at $1 initiation fee and $5 annual membership fees.
- E) To ‘supervise and conduct lectures and other educational programs.’
- F) To ‘require all members in writing to express their determination to renounce all association with red-headed females’ and to expel any member who failed to live up to his pledge.”
As if those six aims were not enough to promote the goals of the Anti Red-Head League, fifteen additional counts against "red-headed females" were spelled out in attempt to clarify the hostility. Once again, I've transcribed this portion from the same New York Sun article that I partially clipped above. The counts:
- That they are tempestuous, flighty, contentious and ready to quarrel at the slightest provocation.
- That they lack a sense of fidelity and center their attention upon one man for a short period of time.
- That they are ready, willing and able to make promises, but are unreliable in keeping them.
- That they are spendthrifts and miserly at one and the same time and demand unnecessary luxuries while their husbands scrape along without sufficient clothing and with but the bare necessities of life.
- That they are unwilling and reluctant to cooperate with their husbands where such cooperation will be of advantage to their husbands, but are perverse, stubborn and unreliable to an unbearable degree.
- That they are quick of tongue, slanderous, libelous and deceitful.
- That they have no sense of sportsmanship and are tendered poor partners at bridge, gold or any other mixed pastime.
- That although inclined to be wanton, faithless and ruthless themselves they are most jealous of their husbands to an extent constituting them a distinct menace to the well being and mental tranquility of their husbands.
- That they prevaricate shamelessly and without regard to any one’s feelings.
- That they are unwilling to undertake and accept the responsibilities necessary to rear, fondle and nurture their children.
- That they are entirely devoid of culinary abilities or other domestic requirements, habitually serving half-baked, overdone or leftover foods for their husbands and being quick of temper when reprimanded by them for their failure to serve well-cooked and nourishing foods.
- That they frequent cosmetic parlors for their personal beautification and glorification, squandering money and time therein, as well as at speakeasies and night clubs to the utter shame and disregard of their husbands and their husbands’ financial reserves.
- That they slothfully lie abed for the greater part of the day without any attempt to care for their household in a manner necessary and required by the laws of social intercourse and domestic rules and regulations, and with an utter disregard for their marital vows.
- That they are by nature vicious, faithless, unworthy and cannot be trusted in confidential matters, being eager to spread rumors with the agility of a cat or others of the same ilk.
- That they are flirtatious and inefficient secretaries and are a menace to wives of their employers, as well as to the wives of their community as a whole.
Wait a second, this is beginning to sound like somebody classic film films already know!
I couldn't find mention of an "Anti Red-Head League" (or similarly spelled variants) in any of the old trade magazines, which often spilled about marketing efforts. This was a case where an obscure newspaper clipping helped nail down exactly what was going on:
It's worth noting that all three of the articles clipped for this page, even the more serious sounding reports, were surrounded by movie reviews and advertising when originally published. Also worth mentioning: Red-Headed Woman released in June 1932. The Anti Red-Head League was for the crowds; the following was how it was advertised to theater operators:
Too bad the Anti Red-Head League got up to its tricks in June—surely it would have been worth $200 to MGM's Advertising Department come their September 30 contest deadline.