by Seth Rogovoy
At the bathroom sink the other day, I reached my right hand across the faucet to give myself a squirt from the soap-pump dispenser, which somehow wound up on the left side of the sink (stage right for those of you who are theatrically inclined). It was an unnatural movement; it didn’t feel right. Normally the soap bottle would have been on the right-hand side of the sink, and I wouldn’t have given the pump action a second thought.
But it was on the left-hand side of the sink now, and so I did give it a second thought. I realized it was positioned there because my wife is left-handed. And although the world is dominated by and built for the righties among us, in the privacy of her own home, why shouldn’t she enjoy the privilege of having just this one thing placed properly for her, so that every time she goes to wash her hands she doesn’t have to feel that strange sensation I felt when I had to cross my right hand over to my left, to say nothing of the message it sends – that she is the member of an oppressed minority (or, more accurately in her case, a member of yet another oppressed minority)? I wondered how many other subtle indignities like this she has to face on a daily basis. Doorknobs always placed on the right-hand side of doors. Metrocard machines that always require a swipe on the right. Hell, cars engineered entirely for righties, from the ignition switch on the right of the steering column to the instrument panels controlling the heating and cooling and the radio dials – all to the right of the driver. (At least in America, which made me wonder, did the decline of the British empire correspond to the rise of the automobile due to the wrongheaded – or wronghanded – decision by British car manufacturers to favor left-handed drivers by positioning drivers wrongly on the right?)
And then I thought, bloody hell (since my previous thought was about life in England – the term “bloody hell” doesn’t otherwise just make a spontaneous appearance in my thought-dreams), have you ever seen a leftist person try to write by hand? Is there anything that looks more pathetic, more uncomfortable to the point of pain, than the sight of a left hand curled up and twisted around itself in an attempt to handwrite from left to right? My mother, who was born left-handed, spoke often of the trauma she experienced as a young child when a teacher insisted she learn to write with her right hand. In hindsight, was that teacher doing my mother a great favor? (No, of course not, but still….)
Is the brutal treatment of left-handed persons all just a sinister plot by the dominant right-wingers of the world?