The other night I got into an argument with my sister about discriminated classes, and I pointed out that one of the most discriminated classes that is almost completely ignored is left handed people. Both my sister and I are left handed, but she does not perceive any kind of real discrimination. Is it because there isn’t a significant amount of discrimination, or is it because social justice warriors don’t go around screaming about left handed discrimination?
But what discrimination is there? It can’t be that bad, can it? It can. In fact, our own language is permeated by that discrimination, as are our social norms. The “right” way is the correct way. Sinister, which has come to mean evil, is quite literally the Latin word for “left.” If you are ambidextrous, you have two right hands. If you are a poor dancer, you have two left feet. Moreover, when you go to greet someone, you shake their hand, but only by reaching out your right hand.
Of course there is also the obvious material issues with being left handed. The world is set up for right handed people. But issues are far more extreme than that. Research has suggested that left handed surgeons have more difficulty than right handed surgeons. There is evidence justifying the claim that people who are left handed have different brains, and yet left handed people seem to be generally excluded from research. This exclusion is not accidental. Left handed people still make up 10 – 15% of the population, but they are excluded from these studies to reduce variance.
Of course, we don’t have certain forms of discrimination that we used to have. Left handed people are no longer burned at the stake or beaten into using their right hands. Of course, since left-handedness is partially genetic, past discrimination very well may have had an influence on the current state of left handed people, and may also be one reason why it is difficult to find products designed to be used by left handed people. It’s also possible that families with a tendency towards left-handedness are also economically disadvantaged because of the past, though given that only about 25% of handedness is hereditary, that might be a bit of a stretch.
Of course, things have settled down a bit in the United States. In other countries, this is not necessarily the case. In India, eating food with your left hand is disrespectful. It can be quite offensive to use your left hand in the Middle East. Regardless, there is clear discrimination within our culture, against left handed people. It is embedded in our language and our greetings, as well as our production of tools and research criterion. It seems that the only reason why left handed people are not given more attention is that social justice warriors have not taken up the mantle.