Why Being Left-handed is Evil

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My oldest daughter played my old Gibson acoustic guitar upside-down, Hendrix style, for almost a year before I gave it to her and restrung it for a left-handed player. She’s proud of her left-handedness; treats it as one of the quirks that makes her special.

It bugs me, sometimes, that while we work to avoid misogynistic terms, and you’d certainly be as appalled as I to hear folks in movies from the 30s saying “That’s mighty white of you” that we’ve embedded anti-left words into our vocabulary.

Sinister. Literally, on the left. Dextrous. Literally, on the right.

A little digging yields a passel of less-than-complimentary words related to left-handedness.

My older brother is naturally left-handed, but was forced to use his right hand in school because, well, it was right, not just right. I’ve read that this practice has been tied to learning disorders, but even if that’s bunk, it’s still as dumb as dying redheaded kindergartner’s hair brown because, well, you know about redheads.

Prejudice means judging before we know something. Sadly, we often think we know before we’ve judged. What if you’d met two left-handers who were both weasels, and then acted like a jerk to left-handed people from then on without giving them a chance? Prejudice becomes a self-fulfilling belief.

And that’s sinister.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? It's not a conversation until you say something. Go ahead. Speak up.

10 Responses to Why Being Left-handed is Evil

  1. Tom Bentley says:

    Joel, my father and all four of his children are left handed. My mother is the only holdout. Being in the majority, we think SHE is sinister.

  2. Joel D Canfield says:

    I used to say “I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous” but my Dad made me stop. I secretly suspected there were memories of an Air Force accident, so I never asked.

  3. Karen J says:

    Happy Saturday, Joel!
    Yeah, all that^^^!
    It’s so easy to forget that the plural of ‘anecdote’ is NOT ‘data’. We use scant information to form solidly embedded pre-conceived notions! Gahhhkkk!

    A former sister-in-law of mine developed a severe stutter when her teacher in 1st grade started forcing her to use her right hand.

    Looking forward to this space! :)

  4. Joel D Canfield says:

    plural of ‘anecdote’ is NOT ‘data’

    sweet! me = stealing that.

  5. Debs says:

    I’m left handed, Joel, and so is my dad and one of my brothers (we outnumber the righties in my family – mouse was always on the left side). Going to school in India, my dad was one of those kids whose left hand was tied behind is back when he naturally started to write that way. My grandmother thought that was bunk and wasn’t afraid to say so, so my dad is still a lefty.

    When I got my first guitar as a young teen, he absolutely insisted that I learned it right-handed. We fought about it because, being a proud lefty like your daughter, I liked the quirk. I think I only listened to him in the end because he was speaking from experience. He learned guitar left-handed, and was always frustrated he couldn’t pick up any old guitar wherever he was. I am totally thankful to him for making me learn and a righty because that would be a horrible problem for me.

  6. Joel D Canfield says:

    I’ve had lefty friends who thought it was important to have a lefty guitar, but then stopped to consider that for virtually all musical instruments, you use both hands.

    Why is one more important than the other? Perhaps a lefty would play stronger or more complex chords. But nobody ever looks for a left-handed piano, or car, do they?

  7. Caitlyn says:

    Consider that in 11 years of teaching in public school alternate programs there have been about a third of the students who are left-handed.

    Does that indicate a left-handed=learning disability, therefore not making it in mainstream school?

    Does it suggest a stronger right brain orientation and therefore more creative and therefore less suited to mainstream school?

    Does it mean that the right-favouring prejudice embedded in every learning experience from kindergarten on has created a “monster” of frustrated misbehaviour and therefore unable to be controlled in a mainstream school?

    Now, THAT’s a conversation!

    PS. I agree about the instruments, sports seems to be a different animal though. My dad always used a left-handed basketball (he told me so!)

  8. Joel D Canfield says:

    Caitlyn, that’s a conversation worth having. Perhaps someone will give us a grant to find out what’s up. Perhaps we’ll not wait to be picked, and just start asking questions.

    How do we make that happen?

    Re: sports—baseball batters tend to bat left-handed. Not sure of any percentages, but seeing a man on the right-hander side of the plate seems rare.

  9. Rory says:

    I’m left handed, and at my school, we’ve got these old style guys who think I’m Satanic. It’s quite hilarious to walk past them and start air writing with my left hand and see them quiver. Getting onto guitars, though, I REFUSE to play one someone bought me because they failed to restring it. Bratty lefty for you there.

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