Recovering Lazyholic

Photography & Stuff by Erin Hanson

lefties got it rough

Education StationErin HansonComment

I got my hair cut the other day, which started this whole thing. My hairdresser and another customer got into a conversation about the hard knocks associated with being left handed. I always knew things must be a bit harder for the 'ole lefties... nothing is made with you in mind. Having trouble cutting with every day scissors pales in comparison to though to the madness of way back yonder.

"Until the latter part of the twentieth century, Roman Catholic nuns in United States elementary schools would punish children for using their left hand to write, typically by slapping their left hand with a ruler if they attempted to pick up a pen with it.

As late as the early 20th century, school teachers in the Netherlands would force right-handed writing on left-handed writing children. An example of such treatment involves baseball players and Babe Ruth, who both hit and threw left-handed and wrote right-handed after enduring left-handed suppression during their formative years.

Left-handedness was often interpreted as a sign of Satanic influence, and thus prohibited. Many examples can be found in the Christian-Greek scriptures in which the wicked or evil sit at the left hand of God, while the righteous sit at the right hand of God, during the Last Judgment. The Inuit also believed that every left-handed person was a sorcerer.[citation needed]

The Romans also frowned upon left-handedness. A left-handed boy who was training to be in a Roman legion would have his hand bound to his side, and would be forced to use the gladius with his right hand. This was done out of necessity, as a left-handed Roman would have interfered with the cohesion of the Roman legions.

The use of left hand was also frowned upon in Asia. Allegedly, though there were few examples of its happening, a Japanese man could divorce his wife if he discovered that she was left-handed.

Until very recently, in Chinese societies, left-handed people were strongly encouraged to switch to being right-handed. However, this may be in part because, while Latin characters are equally easy to write with either hand, it is more difficult to write legible Chinese characters with the left hand. The prescribed direction of writing each line of a Chinese character is designed for the movements of the right hand, and some shapes tend to feel awkward to follow with the left hand's fingers. It results in a less soft writing than it would be with the right hand.

In many parts of the world, such as Indonesia, it is considered impolite to eat and accept gifts with the left hand. The reason for this is that a person who uses his left hand to eat would often cause trouble with the person to the left of him. Another stated reason for this is that the left hand is used in some countries, like Indonesia, during a bathroom visit.

A profound Arab stigma against left-handedness dates to a pre-industrial period when paper was extremely rare and (in desert regions) water was too precious to be used for hand-washing. Because it was necessary to use one hand for wiping oneself after defecation, and because it was impossible to cleanse this hand thoroughly, the hand used for this task (traditionally, the left hand) was deemed unfit to be used for any other activity, especially as most Arabs of that time lacked eating utensils, and so they ate with their fingers (of the right hand) from communal dishes, while keeping the left hand entirely concealed at mealtime. To this day, it is widely regarded as taboo in Arab culture to handle food with the left hand. Offering one's left hand for a handshake greeting, or even waving it in greeting without touching, would be considered a serious personal insult in Arab society. Left-handers are also persecuted to some degree in the Arab World due to this taboo." -- www.wikipedia.com