August 13th is International Left Handers Day, and that should be something celebratory and fun, but for a great many children, it’s anything but. At Intransitive, left0ver1under is doing a 7 day series on why this is an important issue which needs attention.
Why is left handedness an important social justice issue? Because those most affected are children, and there is no one who speaks out for them. It’s not a “first world problem” – the countries where it happens most are in Asia, Africa and muslim countries, where use of the left hand is deemed “shameful” and “disrespectful”, where “corporal punishment” is still inflicted on children. In South America and many Eastern European countries, it is still seen as “problem that needs correction”.
But even in wealthy and supposedly “enlightened” countries, it’s still an issue. I have found a grand total of *one* teacher training program (Stephen F. Austin University in Texas) where teachers are taught how to teach left handed handwriting. Everywhere else, they say, “Just copy what the right handers do.” Poor training in writing skills affects speed, learning and testing at school. Left handed kids are getting a second class education. And that’s without mentioning the design of classroom furniture or stationery….
Visit Intransitive, and spend some time on the sinister side.
P.S. If you’re having a difficult time with the image, note that it’s the print of the inside of a left hand. If you hold up your left hand to the monitor, it will magically match! :D Or you could have fun, and coat your left palm and fingers with paint, and do a print.
Pierce R. Butler says
Though personally a northpaw, I’ve wondered quite a bit about the treatment of left-handers in Muslim societies. (Web searches turn up lots of piously condescending recitations by imams, but I’ve yet to locate an actual survey or summary of what happens to individuals in different places.)
I had a left-handed uncle whose (Mormon) teachers forced him, in his youth, to use his secondary hand for writing and everything else they could. He eventually made a living as a journalist for several years, and drew some nice water-colors, but confessed he felt chronically clumsy with both hands throughout his long life because of what they did to him in school.
Those living in overtly “sharia” societies surely have it worse.
The world is designed for right-handers. That sucks right there, and there’s a lot of easy things to do to correct that. But what shocked me when I was old enough to notice was the attitude many people had towards left-handedness. I mean, what the fuck? And then I learned that (in some cultures) having reddish hair was yet another way to shun and otherize people.
This is a fundamental way humans suck. We are just too hard-wired to shun anything that is different. The whole “different, thus dangerous” reaction. And it all gets reinforced by horrible social systems to the point where children shun other children for stupid crap like having/not having long fingernails or the color of their backpack. Or which hand they use most. And then they grow up and become Trump supporters.
Bruce H says
Please forgive me for mentioning this, but isn’t the picture above a right hand?
No. If you cover the palm of your left hand and fingers in ink or paint, and press it on paper, what does it look like?
Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says
Yay! A little recognition for us lefties.
In the by-gone era of the early nineties, I had a 4th grade teacher who tried to beat the left-handed out of me with a metal-edged ruler. Even Canada has some issues with left-handedness.
Patricia Phillips says
I started elementary school in the 70s, in OR, by which time I guess teachers had quit forcing lefties to change. I had a 1st grade teacher who didn’t seem to like me and my lefty-ness, but she didn’t make me change. I had an older southpaw cousin, who I think began school in the 40s, who was forced to change.
I managed ok thru school -- I did not even know left handed desks existed tho’ until I got to university. I was so amazed to find such things existed!
chigau (違う) says
re: metal edge rulars
Those were AWESOME.
We all had them, not just the teachers (in the 1960s).
feet flat in the floor
body inclined at about 22.5°
forearm resting on desk
pen (non-writing end) pointed over your shoulder
left-handers were basically fucked
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Thankfully in some places things have changed. The little one is left handed and first thing we got at our “ready for school” check up was a list of what we have to do differently to accommodate for her.
Funny enough, she prefers right hander scissors even though we always made sure there are left hander scissors around.
Personally I’m a bit ambidextrous. There’s lots of things I instinctively did left handed, like using cutlery. I remember one time in the school cafeteria when a teacher got very upset and made me eat the rest of my lunch “decent like a civilised person.” I was sorry for all the lefties in her classes.