|Photo by Robert Ramirez|
Adjective & noun. Also (feminine, but often used indiscriminately) blonde. Late 15th century.
[Old & modern French from medieval Latin blundus, blondus yellow, perhaps of Germanic origin: feminine form introduced from French in the 17th century.]
A adjective. (Esp. of the hair) of a light golden-brown colour, flaxen, fair;
(of the complexion) light-coloured with fair hair. L15
ash blond, platinum blond, silver blond, strawberry blond, etc.
blond beast [translating from German blonde Bestie] a man of the Nordic type.
blond bombshell, blonde bombshell: see bombshell.
B1 noun. A person (especially a woman) with blond hair and complexion. M18
B2 noun. blonde = blonde lace. M18
dumb blond, dumb blonde: see dumb adjective & noun.
peroxide blond, peroxide blonde: see peroxide noun.
Also: blondish adjective somewhat blond or light-coloured M20. blondness, blondeness noun L19.
"A stunning blond walked into my office the other day ..." Admit it. The picture in your head is of a stunning woman walking into my office, right? To be truthful, that's the picture in my head too. Blond as a noun, however, is masculine, and blonde is feminine, and therefore it was a stunning blond man that walked into my office (boo!). In having masculine and feminine forms, blond is unusual in English, although the degree with which the difference is observed varies between country and writer, especially with regard to the adjective.
The second thing that's interesting about blond is that it does carry the societal acceptability of nominating women by their physical characteristics alone. Disregarding the spelling difference (as obviously there is no difference in pronunciation), if I corrected you with a supercilious "No, it was a stunning man that came into my office - why would you just presume it was a woman?", you'd no doubt give me a strange look. In spoken English, from either sex, a phrase like "stunning blond" implicitly says "a stunning blonde woman". Interestingly, brunet and its feminine form brunette carry the same semantic assumptions.
|This is me. A self-portrait. OK it's not. But it is proof that blond men exist.|
(photo by Mary Beth Coeth Photography)
It gets worse for blonds though. Ingrained in both the English language and the English-speaking culture is the blond stereotype, or perhaps more accurately the blonde stereotype, as it's one that affects women significantly more than men. For example, the "dumb blonde" idea has created the language of being blonde, regardless of your hair colour, if you've just done something a bit stupid. And if you've had a temporary lapse of intelligence, you can be said to have had a "blonde moment".
Even worse than this, blonds have to put up with the glut of blonde jokes. While one could make an argument about the inherent sexism in blonde jokes which generally cast a blonde woman as being stupid, naive or promiscuous solely because of her hair colour, it's worth noting that in general they're just not funny! And, while competing for the "Most Unsurprising Results of Scientific Research Award", it's been shown that men find dumb blonde jokes funnier than women (the shock). Come on guys - we can do better!
|A blonde child, blowing away the seeds of prejudice from a stalk of hope in a field of liberty (I think)|
(photo by Victor Walsh Photography)
A common reaction to prejudice based on hair colour is not to take it so seriously, as it's just a bit of fun. However, it has real-life consequences. Rather than being just some cultural quirk that we can all have a laugh about, it seems we do actually judge a person's intelligence based on their hair colour. That's pretty astounding - all of us, men and women, society as a whole, are stupid enough to think that hair colour alone is indicative of one's intelligence. Shame on us!
Ah well. It may all be irrelevant soon anyway, as the BBC reported in 2002 that blonds will be extinct within 200 years. The thinking is that artificial blondes are more attractive to men than natural blondes, and therefore the blond gene isn't being passed on. Honestly, the BBC reported that! I would like to make a joke about them having a blonde moment in falling for such a transparent hoax but it probably wouldn't be appropriate.
Are you blond, blonde or a blond or blonde?
Do you actually find blonde jokes funny?
Should we all just relax and accept that hair-colourism is a cherished part of modern culture?
Do please leave your fair-minded, flaxen-centric comments below.