View Full Version : Check out this book: Roots of Desire: The Myth, Meaning and Sexual Power of Red Hair

June 21st, 2010, 12:29 PM

With how many of us are doing henna and LIKE having red hair (plus those of us who were born this way in the first place), I thought I'd pass along this book I just ran across.

And if anyone is compelled to purchase it, the price is 75% less at BookCloseOuts.com: http://www.bookcloseouts.com/default.asp?Nsl=-369247&R=9781582343440B

A redhead herself, NPR commentator Roach has an odd chip on her shoulder about it, relating all sorts of travails and opinions connected to red hair that the average non-redhead may never have guessed existed. To get to the bottom of our perceptions and experience of red hair, she explores the ancient legends of Lilith and Set, the traditions that depict both Judas and Mary Magdalene as redheads, and an Eve in London's St. Paul's Cathedral that has blond hair before the Fall and red hair after it. She visits "witch camp" in Vermont, a high-end hair salon in Manhattan, and Emily Dickinson's house, where a carefully preserved lock of the poet's red hair transforms Roach's image of her. Along the way, Roach (Another Name for Madness) makes some poignant points about what it means to belong to the redheaded minority in Western society, making gently suggestive comparisons to more overt patterns of prejudice. Yet the author seems to accept preconceptions about the sexuality and vivacity associated with red hair, and her jumping between examples often reads more like breathless conjecture than fact and leaches energy from extended vignettes, such as her visit with the witches. Whether readers enjoy this book will have a lot to do with whether they like the narrator's self-conscious red-headed persona. And, of course, whether they are as fascinated as she is by red hair.

June 21st, 2010, 12:44 PM
There's a whole book about it!? Wow :p

June 21st, 2010, 12:55 PM
Here's the description from BookCloseOuts, which gives more info:

Part history, part cultural commentary, part memoir, The Roots of Desire is a witty and entertaining investigation into what it means to be a redhead. A redhead rarely goes unnoticed in a crowded room. From Judas Iscariot to Botticelli's Venus to Julianne Moore, redheads have been worshipped, idealized, fetishized, feared, and condemned, leaving their mark on us and our culture. Such is the power of what is actually a genetic mutation, and in The Roots of Desire, Marion Roach takes a fascinating look at the science behind hair color and the roles redheads have played over time. She discovers that in Greek mythology, redheads become vampires after they die; Hitler banned intermarriage with redheads for fear of producing "deviant offspring"; women with red hair were burned as witches during the Inquisition; in Hollywood, female redheads are considered sexy while male redheads are considered a hard sell; and in the nineteenth century, it was popular belief that redheads were the strongest scented of all women, smelling of amber and violets. Redheads have been stereotyped, marginalized, sought after, and made to function as everything from a political statement to a symbol of human carnality. A redhead herself, Roach brings candor and brilliant insight to the complicated and revealing history of redheads, making this a stand-out narrative and an essential tool in understanding the mechanics and phenomenon of red hair.

June 21st, 2010, 01:03 PM
I LOVE this book! My girlfriend is a redhead and -- like many people, I think -- hated it while she was growing up but now views it as one of her best features. Definitely recommended reading, or gifting - for the redhead in your life. :)

June 21st, 2010, 01:34 PM
Wow! This book looks fascinating! It's definitely going on my wish list.

Your post got me on a whole kick of seeing what type of scholarship Amazon has on hair. Now my tabs are filled with all sorts of really interesting-sounding books.

Here are a few examples:

Rapunzel's Daughters: What Women's Hair Tells Us About Women's Lives (http://www.amazon.com/Rapunzels-Daughters-Womens-Tells-About/dp/B0017HZR6M/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277144238&sr=1-9)

The Last Taboo: Women and Body Hair (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/0719075009/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books)

Blonde Like Me: The Roots of the Blonde Myth in Our Culture (http://www.amazon.com/Blonde-Like-Me-Roots-Culture/dp/0684852144/ref=sr_1_23?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277144282&sr=1-23)

Off with Her Head!: The Denial of Women's Identity in Myth, Religion, and Culture (http://www.amazon.com/Off-Her-Head-Identity-Religion/dp/0520088409/ref=sr_1_30?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277144326&sr=1-30)

Has anyone read any of these, or can offer better suggestions on starting researching women and hair from a more women studies/cultural studies/historical viewpoint?

June 21st, 2010, 01:42 PM
Yeah, I read this book several years ago. It's very interesting! I highly recommend it to redheads and non-redheads alike. :)

I'll have to check out some of those other books on hair, Yozhik. Thanks!

Pear Martini
June 22nd, 2010, 09:15 AM
Sounds interesting.... there should be a book for ladies with big, thick, dark hair too :D

June 23rd, 2010, 01:31 PM
The Last Taboo: Women and Body Hair (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/0719075009/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books) I am sure its an interessting book, but EIGHTY FOUR dollars for a book! :bigeyes::bigeyes:

I like the roots of desire from what I have been able to read (on the amazon website).

June 23rd, 2010, 05:39 PM
i just wanted to say this thread makes me happy. thanks for the links thus far!

June 23rd, 2010, 09:31 PM
And in HOT news from Australia... We have a new Prime Minister (basically = President) A Redheaded Woman, Julia Gillard.

June 24th, 2010, 05:50 AM
I was born a real redhead (going silver strawberry blonde now) so this is going on my wish list too. I may be biased, being a natural one myself but red hair is my fave and I always notice other redheads, long or short hairted.