Opinion: The world needs to be more left-handed

Left-handed+people+make+up+10%25+of+the+world%27s+population%2C+but+the+world+doesn%27t+make+enough+accommodations+for+lefties.+

Photo by Willow Ornellas

Left-handed people make up 10% of the world’s population, but the world doesn’t make enough accommodations for lefties.

Willow Ornellas, Staff Writer

Living in a right-handed society as a left-handed person has become a physical burden. It’s time to stop instilling myths and discriminatory ideals against left-handed people.

Ten percent of the population is left-handed, however, our modern world is still targeted towards right-handedness. Ultimately, lefties are forced to adapt. In order to be accommodating to all, the world needs to modernize by recognizing left-handed people instead of forcing them to fit into a mold made for the other 90%.

Being a lefty, I’ve been forced to live in a right-handed world since childhood, and I’ve been asking questions no one has had the answer to since.

Why are microwave buttons and oven knobs usually only on the right side?

Why is there never a desk comfortable for me to sit in but my classmates all have arm support? 

Why are pens at the bank always attached on the right side?

Why do I always have to struggle with notebooks, scissors, vegetable peelers not working?

In order for the world to continue to modernize, these issues need solutions and some solutions are simple.

More work should be done to increase fairness between lefties and righties instead of resorting to forcing left-handed children to be righties.

Put oven knobs along the bottom of the stove instead of on the right side so that all stoves can have knobs in a neutral place.

If a standard class contains 25-30 students, and about 10% of the world population is left-handed, then every classroom should contain at least two desks reserved for left-handed students.

Left-handed students should be allowed to use pens instead of pencils as their primary writing tool in school because pencil smears when the left-hand passes over the writing which can make notes blurry.

Every classroom should have at least one pair of lefty scissors.

The world needs to be more accommodating to left-handed people, in the same way it’s accommodating to any other group of people who are different.

According to 2015 census data, less than 1% of the world population is blind, yet tactile paving is used all over the country to protect those who are blind and have impaired vision.

According to the World Health Organization, as of 2018, over 5% of the world population is deaf or hard of hearing, but all modern TVs are built with support for closed captioning.

About 10% of the world population is left-handed but accommodations for them are still lacking.

Society has modernized in other ways. Accommodations for people with Dyslexia or ADHD now exist, when previously they weren’t available.

Similar accommodations for lefties have yet to be made. If I want to purchase a pair of scissors or a vegetable peeler that will work for me, I have to go to a special store to seek that out. The world hasn’t put enough work into making the lives of lefties easier.

I don’t think it’s fair to compare being left-handed with living with a disability, however, it’s important to recognize the world makes accommodations for different functioning bodies, often with the exception of left-handed people. Accommodations for all circumstances relating to a large portion of the affected communities should be available.

Instead, the world pressures lefties to change by either forcing a child to write with their right hand or hoping they learn to become ambidextrous.

One could argue that you’re doing your child a favor by stopping them from using their left hand before it becomes a habit. If they learn to be right-handed early, there’s no need to learn how to adapt to the right-handed world. There is evidence that proves there are no long-term consequences of switching handedness, however, this idea goes against the concept of uniqueness parents also encourage. 

Forcing a child to use their non-dominant hand teaches them being left-handed is not something they should celebrate and is therefore bad. This outdated idea does not represent what American culture stands for, the acceptance of others who are different from ourselves.

Forcing anyone into anything that is unnatural to them is immoral, so why does American society still consider it reasonable for parents and teachers to force children to write with their other hand?

Perhaps it comes from a place of misunderstanding.

Several left-handed myths originated in the ‘60s and ’70s from Michael Barsley’s books on left-handedness.

A report covering the last half-century of handedness research for sage Journals, an independent publishing company, said popular books about left-handedness spread misinformation. Chris McManus said, “Michael Barsley’s popular books on left-handedness, with their myriad successors in books, newspapers and on the Internet, promulgated a series of endlessly repeated half-truths and myths.”

These false truths spread to the masses increasing unintentional discrimination against lefties. Myths that left-handed people die-younger, have poor health and superstitions that the left side of the body is related to evil, contributed to why parents throughout history forced their children to write with their right hand.

Children in school would be beaten for something they could not control. Jesse Robinson, a 21-year-old, left-handed SRJC student shared that for him, being left-handed has always been an advantage because he plays baseball. Robinson’s mom, who’s also left-handed, hasn’t been so lucky.

Her teacher would smack her hand with the metal side of a ruler because she wrote with her left hand. My mom is now ambidextrous due to her experiences in elementary school,” Robinson said.

Historically, it has not been uncommon for teachers to slap left-handed student’s hands with rulers until they learned to use their right hand. Abusing people for something they cannot help is frowned upon by society, but yet people still do.

Physical abuse of lefties may not be as prevalent in the modern-day U.S. but still, not enough is being done to ensure lefties are treated as equals.

The first step is recognizing the problem, from there, change can be made.