Today is International Left-Handers Day, and I stand here before the world with my left fist clenched and raised high, proud and unashamed to declare that I am a member of one of history’s most persecuted minorities. Unlike you fake “left-wingers,” I am a “leftist” in the purest sense of the word. I ask you not to judge, but to embrace, to accept, and to quit designing the whole fucking world so that it’s difficult for us to write with a pen without getting ink all over our hands.
Here are fifteen things you need to know about us before our left hook comes swinging at you and catches you off-guard:
1. Our condition is genetic.
About 10% of the population is left-handed, and the overwhelming evidence suggests this is due to genetic causes. (I only found one citation that claims otherwise.) Geneticists have tagged the PCSK6 and LRRTM1 genes as correlative factors in establishing left-handedness in developing embryos. It is believed that varying factors such as exposure to high levels of maternal testosterone, traumatic gestation period, difficult birth, low birth weight, premature birth, and advanced maternal age can contribute to left-handedness. So, yes—we are a statistical minority of genetic mutants.
2. We enjoy certain physical advantages.
We are better at fighting, because you don’t expect to be hit from that side. We are also disproportionately represented in baseball, fencing, and swimming.
3. We suffer from several physical disadvantages.
We are more likely to suffer from allergies, asthma, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, autoimmune bowel disease, and juvenile diabetes. It has also been rumored that we don’t live as long as right-handers, although the evidence is inconclusive.
4. We are more likely to be geniuses.
Studies (here’s one) have found that left-handers were more likely than right-handers to have IQs over 140. We especially excel in the realms of architecture, spatial awareness, and math.
5. We are more likely to be creative.
Lefties tend to be overrepresented in “creative professions” because we allegedly have a higher level of “fluid” intelligence.
6. We are more likely to be crazy.
The evidence suggests that we are disproportionately afflicted with autism, dyslexia, depression, bipolar disorder, and especially schizoaffective disorder.
7. We are better at multitasking.
A 2006 study published in Neuropsychology claims that we process language in both brain hemispheres, whereas right-handed people typically process it in the left hemisphere. A researcher claimed that the “connection between the left brain and the right brain” is “somewhat larger and better connected in left-handers.”
8. We are more easily frightened.
Or so claims one study. It was based on subjects viewing Silence of the Lambs, which I didn’t find scary at all.
9. We are more easily angered.
No argument there. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (I read it in the bathroom) claims we exhibit “Negative Emotional Valence” because our left and right brain hemispheres interact more frequently than do the brains of right-handers, which can lead to frequent collisions between logic and emotion.
10. We live in a world that was not designed for us.
Schooldesks, scissors, power saws, tools, sporting equipment, steak knives, checkbooks, and stringed instruments were all designed with right-handers in mind.
11. We are more likely to be male, homosexual, and perverted.
Women are slightly more likely than men to be right-handed. Male homosexuals are more likely to be left-handed, but lesbians are even more likely to be left-handed than are gay men. We are also disproportionately represented among those with “paraphilias,” AKA perversions.
12. Languages are biased against us.
• The Latin word sinister originally meant “left.”
• The English word “left” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word lyft, implying “weak or broken.”
• The German word for “left-handed” is linkisch, which is also a euphemism for “clumsy.”
• The French word for “left” is gauche. No further explanation needed.
• The Sanskrit word waama means both “left” and “wicked.”
• The Hungarian word for left is bal, which also means “bad.”
• The Estonian word pahem means both “left” and “worse.”
On the other hand (haw!), in most of Indo-European languages the word denoting the right side is also synonymous with “correct.” Amirite?
13. Folklore is biased against us.
Oral traditions worldwide associate left-handedness with evil. The Inuit/Eskimos allegedly view every lefty as a “potential sorcerer.” Moroccans consider left-handers to be cursed from birth. The Meru people of Kenya deem their witch doctor’s left hand as containing tremendous power to harm. Occultic traditions throughout Europe dictate that curses and spells be cast with the left hand.
14. Religions are biased against us.
According to The Left-Hander Syndrome: The Causes and Consequences of Left-Handedness, the Bible mentions the right hand positively 100 times, whereas it mentions the left hand 25 times—negatively in every instance. Jewish philosopher Maimonides listed 100 “blemishes” that would disqualify someone from serving in the Jewish Temple—being left-handed was one of them. Catholic and Anglican priests are instructed to distribute Holy Communion with their right hands. In Islamic countries, people wipe themselves with their left hands. In Saudi Arabia, it is illegal to use your left hand in public.
15. We have suffered horrific discrimination throughout history.
We have nobly endured such tremendous persecution throughout the centuries that it would not be unfair to describe us as the “Jews of Dexterity.” In the Middle Ages, one allegedly received the death penalty for writing with your left hand. In the 1700s and 1800s, left-handed children would often be beaten, have their left hands tied behind their backs, and forced to write with their right hands. Children in Vietnam are still forced to “write right.”
When will our shame and sorrow end? When we finally use our genetically advanced brains, act in our collective interest, form a Leftist Defense League, and fight back swinging. We are fucking SICK of having to shake hands using our right hand. It’s just not right.
Read Jim Goad’s terrifying yet amusing ebook about fending off fans turned stalkers.