Left-handedness was once a thing to hide and be ashamed of, because the stigma of negativity surrounding left-handedness was promoted by school teachers, clergy, parents and others. Teachers tried techniques such as slapping the hand and even going so far as to tie it behind the child’s back to prevent the usage of the hand during writing, eating and other activities.
Part of the negative connotations connected with being left-handed stem from the fact that in parts of Europe and most of the Far East, the left hand is strictly used for bathroom purposes. The left hand, therefore, is considered “unclean” by most cultures in that region. Of course, this is a ridiculous notion, since either hand, right or left, can be dirtied and can also be washed clean.
Another reason that some people, particularly in religious sectors, see the left hand as wicked is because of several passages in the Bible which place the right hand in a positive light and the left hand in a negative light.
Although viewpoints about left-handedness are slowly changing across the world the belief still exists, in many cultures, that the left hand is dirty. Because of this belief, it is unacceptable in some cultures to use the left hand for eating, passing food, accepting gifts, and other gestures. The exception is if you must use the left hand such as lifting a box that requires both hands.
Approximately one in seven people are born favoring their left hand. Although men are more likely to be left-handed it can occur in any sex or ethnic group. Left-handedness is often genetic but is usually only passed down to about a fourth of their offspring.
Although no one is certain why some people are born right-handed and some left-handed some studies hint at a possible trauma during birth being responsible for some of the left-handed population. Studies show that many left-handed people experienced a difficult or stressful birth. Major stress during birth has also been linked to cerebral palsy and autism.
It is said that the right hemisphere of the brain, controlling left-handedness, is more active in left-handed people. The right hemisphere is also said to be connected, in some instances, to genius and artistic ability. It’s also true that many famous people, who were extremely intelligent, were left-handed, including many of the British Royal Family.
Times have changed and no longer are teachers allowed to try to correct a student’s left-handedness. No longer are children ridiculed in front of other classmates for having left-handed tendencies. Still, many products on the market cater to those with right-handedness. Eventually we can hope to treat all people, no matter what hand they prefer, as equals.
If you’ve been taught that left-handed people are in some way inferior to right-handed people it’s time to adjust your viewpoint. And if you are a left-handed person who was “trained” to be right-handed feel free to use either hand now. Times have changed. Thank goodness.