The privilege of being right-handed
In the age-old topic of privilege, the concept of “right-handedness” has found its way into debate, as some lefties are now speaking out about living in a right-handed world. According to CNN, 10% of the population is left-handed, which means right-handed people have the upper-hand, if you will.
The concept of “left” has itself been dragged through the dirt throughout history, with numerous negative connotations being attached to the word.
“Historically, left has been associated with the devil,” said freshman Edward O’Connor, a philosophy major.
In addition to its associated with the devil, the Italian word for left, “sinistra,” comes from the Latin word for evil. In the past, the left side was considered the weaker side of the body. Additionally lefties have been stereotyped, such as being bad at writing or in general not being as capable as their right-handed counterparts.
“I was playing a video game, and then I was playing as a left-handed character,” said O’Connor, who is right-handed. “It freaked me out for a moment.”
There are, however, some advantages to being left-handed. According to the Pew Research Center, left-handed men are, statistically, likely to make more money throughout their lives, especially those who go to college. Lefties also have advantages in sports.
“When I fenced in high school, [being left-handed] actually gave me an advantage over most people,” said freshman Chason Thompson, a criminal justice major.
However, Thompson found there was a lack of left-handed equipment.
“[It’s harder] to find stuff like left-handed golf clubs or any other hand-specific items as easy as right-handed people,” Thompson said.
According to the BBC, the widespread theory that left-handed people live nine years less than right-handed people is incorrect, as it’s based on a study that only took into account those who died, not the living. The BBC did say that being left-handed puts one at greater risk of a small accident.
Today, being left-handed is being much more accepted, as there is a general decrease in stigma.
Specialized items such as left-handed scissors and can openers are available for lefties.
“My experiences of left-handedness has been pretty benign,” said Sabrina Hom, professor of philosophy. “I haven’t dealt with major problems with it, but when I was a kid handwriting was an issue. When I was in high school, we were all obliged to take a mechanical drafting class, and we had to draw a very precise image—it was difficult to draw as a left-handed person and not smudge it.”
Graphic by Maggie Waldmann | Arts & Life Editor