Something sinister about left-handed biases

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I’m the girl that holds up the AP exam with her request for a new desk. I’m the girl that you dread sitting next to in chemistry lab. I’m the girl with questionable blotches of ink on the perimeter of her palm. Yes, I am left-handed.

With only 10-12% of the population being left-handed, society tends to neglect the needs of lefties. Small aspects of daily life, such as scissors, pant zippers, the computer mouse, binders, and can openers are designed specifically for right-handed people, simply because the population of righties is dominant. Left-handed instruments have to be specially ordered and are rarely found in common use.

It’s almost crazy how much of an impact a simple statistic has on the economic and social structure of countries around the world. Being left-handed is neither a disability nor a mutation; these superstitions and market faux pas emerged from a mere discrepancy amongst us in our biological makeup.

And even so, studies show that left-handed people are more likely to be geniuses. 20% of all MENSA members are lefties, an incredible number considering the percentage of lefties. With higher reported IQ’s, left-handed men who attended college are 15% richer than right-handed men, and 26% richer if they finished college. In fact, 4 out of 5 of the original designers of the Apple Mac were left handed.

Despite these facts, lefties are discriminated against and even oppressed in certain societies.

Negligence towards left-handed people is not a novel issue in the world. Animosity towards lefties has existed since the days of  ancient sun worship. Settlers living in the Northern Hemisphere observed the sun gravitating from left to right; moving away from bad and towards good. The French word for “left” is gauche, which can be translated as “awkward.” In Latin, the word for “left” is sinister, which has come to mean “evil” in English.

In many foreign countries, forced conversion from left to right hand usage begins at an early age. Lefties are frowned upon and taught to write with their right hand. Corporal punishment is common and the conversion process often triggers developmental disorders, such as dyslexia and  stuttering.

The hand that grabs the pencil on the first day of kindergarten may not be the one society accepts. The extent to which people take this superstition is baffling, and its influences are extremely prevalent in society.

Take an average Townsend Harris classroom for example; out of 34 desks in a classroom, there will be one, maybe two, “left handed desks,” which don’t favor any side at all.

These effects go beyond the classroom. With limited left-handed instruments and supplies readily available, education and job opportunities for lefties in the medical, sports, and music worlds are minimal, and students are put at a disadvantage.

But think about it: what is the problem with being left-handed? If 90% of the world were left-handed, would we have the number pad on the left side of the keyboard? Would the bank attach its pen to the left of the teller desk? Would the foreign definitions and myths alter themselves accordingly?

But go on, cut your straight lines with your right-handed scissors and indulge in your spiral notebooks, because at the end of the day, I am proudly classified with Leonardo da Vinci, Kurt Cobain, Albert Einstein, Jimi Hendrix, Henry Ford, Aristotle, Pele, and yes, even Morgan Freeman.

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