Monday, 21 July 2008

The oppression of the left

I suffer from an extreme form of prejudice which will sadly never go away. The world is back to front for me. Yes, I am a left-hander in a world designed for the 9 out of 10 people who are righties. Bastards.

Everything, I mean EVERYTHING is made for the optimal use of right handed people. Doorknobs are one. Left-handed people have to form “T-rex arm” in order to open doors, and let me tell you, there is minimal manoeuvrability in that position. Bottle tops require a similar arm seizure. Guns, computer mice, rulers, books are all right-handed. Hence I read magazines and newspapers back to front. If only I read Arabic!

Scissors are another biased implement. I can tell you that I cannot cut well. It has always been so. My edges are always jagged and crooked and horrendous. Teachers were not impressed with my presentation in workbooks, it looked like a shark had been at my worksheets.

I was discriminated against at school (poor lickle me). In std 2 (grade 4?) our teacher announced to us that we would be allowed to write in pen. This was a huge step in our lives, we were becoming adults. We were very excited.

The teacher announced (in typical model C capitalistic autocratic manner) that we HAD to buy expensive blue rollerball pens. Rollerball pens have wet ink. She then said that any left-handers were excused from buying these pens because our arms would smudge the ink as we wrote. If we could lift our arms while writing then we would be allowed rollerballs.

Screw that, if everyone else got to use rollerballs, then I wanted bloody rollerballs. No crappy cheap ballpoints for me. For a year I wrote chicken style, wing in the air, and my writing was atrocious. Then I gave in, let my arm drop, and put up with ink all over my uniform.

Then there was the knitting debacle. No teacher could figure out how to teach me to knit. We were graded for knitting in those sadistic times. My teacher literally just shook her head and said she gave up. She abandoned me to a chair on my own. So what the fark was I, a mere 8 year old supposed to do? I asked my mother if she could teach me. She was convinced she could, but she ended up teaching me right handed. Lets just say my knitting was not great at ALL. But I persisted and eventually could produce super-duper knitting, by about age 14. So there.

If I am complaining now, consider how it was for my grandmother and people before her. She was forced by teachers and parents to tie her left hand behind her back so that she would not use it. Left handed people were said to be doing Satan’s work (he is supposedly a leftie) and the
Latin word sinistra (meaning left) has acquired the meaning evil. Great.

Add to that the fact that lefties are likely to die younger due to our clumsiness in a right-handed world.

Despite all this, I like being a leftie, and all the righties I know (basically everyone) go to great lengths to assure me that they can use their left hands for certain things and are probably ambidextrous, not plain boring rightie at all. Left-handedness has acquired a certain specialness that marks people out, and I am cool with that. People mumble something about us being more creative and intelligent too. Ha. You all are just jealous.


Carole Seawert said...

As a fellow lefty, I find it so unfair that many terms for 'left' are negative:
Latin for ‘left’ is ‘sinister’.
In French, left is ‘gauche’ which also means ‘awkward’ or ‘clumsy’.
If you can’t dance, you have ‘two left feet’.
And in German, ‘links’ (left) is also synonymous with ‘awkward’ or ‘clumsy’.
In Italian, left handed is ‘mancino’ which has additional meanings of ‘treacherous’ or ‘dirty’.
In Spanish ‘left handed’ is ‘zurdo’. There is also a phrase ‘no ser zurdo’ which translates literally as ‘not to be left handed’ but actually means ‘to be very clever’.
Similarly, Portuguese for left handed is ‘canhoto’ or ‘weak’

po said...

I agree Carole. Language is strongly biased against all things "left".

It is strange how things always seem to be categorised hierarchically. Why is one always better than the other? Why are they not just different from eachother?