Why Left-Handed People Are Legendary
According to Biography.com, "only ten percent of the general population is a lefty". What does that mean? That we're pretty special, that's what.
So; where do we come from? (My parents ask me this all of the time.) The theory is that being left-handed is about 25% genetic, but scientists are stumped as to the other 75%. Another theory is that a single gene controls which hand is used, but scientists cannot agree on which gene. Turns out, lefties are mysterious too.
"Just a lefty girl. Living in a right-handed world". -Journey's lesser-known lyric in "Don't Stop Believin''
Admit it: it's not been easy living in a right-handed world. Think about the right-handed scissors from grade school, and any left-handed scissors that were available were just plain crappy. Try writing in a spiral notebook without your hand hurting from the spirals. Don't even get me started on bumping elbows while eating with my righty husband (we always forget to switch sides) using a computer mouse for the first time, and using the computer keypad on the right side. Also, left-handed handshakes are not appropriate. That's fine--we'll adapt to you. (For the record: of course, these are First World Problems and not real problems.)
The "struggles" go far back. In fact, 'sinister' in Latin means 'left'. Left-handed people used to be considered evil, and could be automatically accused of witchcraft as it was thought that the devil himself was left-handed. This was also true during the Salem Witch Trials, in which a Lefty was more likely to be accused of being a witch than a Righty.
A doctor in the early twentieth century, Cesare Lombroso, known as 'the father of modern criminology' deemed left-handed people to be a 'dangerous sign of savagery and criminality'. A psychologist, Theodore Blau theorized that left-handed children "were more likely to have academic and behavioral problems". I've also heard horror stories of school teachers violently trying to change a student's dominant hand to the right hand.
This stigma continued until about the 1990's, where psychologist Marian Annett finally found faulty logic with some of these crazy assertions. Thank goodness for that!
We're creative trailblazers.
The theory from Psychology Today is that because left-handed people are outside the norm, "it forces you to avoid a herd mentality and to stay nimble and adaptable by constantly flexing your creative and divergent thinking abilities". This requires more outside-the-box thinking, which is a big part of being the leader--standing out from the pack.
Many left-handed people were some of the "first" of their times and/or used their divergent thinking to accomplish incredible feats. Let's take a look:
- Neil Armstrong--First man on the moon. Fellow Lefty Buzz Aldrin was not far behind him as the second man. I wonder if Buzz would do it all over again and "race" Neil off the space shuttle. Just a thought.
- Joan of Arc--Became a national heroine of France after she dressed as a man to lead the French to victory in the Battle of Orleans. Thinking outside-the-box wasn't necessarily revered thinking at that time, and the English burned her at the stake.
- Albert Einstein--Escaped Nazi Germany to develop the Theory of Relativity and make numerous contributions to science.
- Carol Burnett--The first woman to have her own comedy-variety show, "The Carol Burnett Show". In my opinion, one of her greatest accomplishments is putting together such a superb cast of Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, and last, but certainly not least, Tim Conway. She paved the way for other female sketch comics.
- Charlie Chaplin--Became one of film's earliest stars after creating the pantomime-heavy character "The Tramp", after wanting to stand out from other actors' characters.
- Oprah Winfrey--She is the first African-American billionaire, after launching one of the first talk shows with an African-American woman, despite being told she was "too sensitive" for the regular news. Her warm demeanor and empathic nature was unique to other talk shows at the time. She eventually created her own brand and empire that people still gravitate to. Quite a feat for a poor lefty-woman from the South.
- David Bowie--Truly an original, he constantly pushed the envelope of what was considered 'acceptable' for a man. His costumes were flamboyant, and he was known for being gender neutral at times. Because of this, he influenced a new genre of music: glam rock. No other popular artist had arguable done this. Not to mention, his songs were catchy as heck.
At least eight presidents are/were left-handed, including:
- Barack Obama
- Bill Clinton
- George Bush, Senior
- Gerald Ford
- Ronald Reagan (also ambidextrous, that clever fox!)
- James Garfield
- Herbert Hoover
- Harry Truman
We're supposedly good at sports.
For some reason, there are a ton of sports players that are left-handed.
There is a theory that lefties have an advantage because we have to use sports equipment that is right-handed, and therefore, we accidentally become ambidextrous. (This is true for me.) Being ambidextrous apparently makes you better at sports, because you understand how to work with both hands. You could apply this to tennis or football, where you may not favor a side to throw or to hit the ball. Your competitors wouldn't be able to predict your play, and thus, possibly creating your advantage. In baseball, the pitcher may not be used to throwing to a different side as well. Alright, we'll take it.
Here are a few great sport lefties, and it's noteworthy the variety of sports in which they play:
- Babe Ruth--baseball
- Rafael Nadal--tennis
- Arnold Palmer--golf, and inspiration for the bizarre, unnatural drink of lemonade and iced tea
- Oscar de la Hoya--boxer
- Ken Griffey, Junior--baseball
- Larry Bird--basketball
- Pele--soccer (I wonder if the same logic for the hands also applies to the feet?)
- Lou Gehrig--baseball
- Deion Sanders--football
We have our own holiday!
International Left-Handers' Day is August 13th. This is the perfect time to lecture right-handers about the struggles of left-handers until you annoy them into buying you ice cream! Hurrah!
Bonus Points: This happens to be the day after my birthday. Double Hurrah!
We're in good company. This list is intentionally long as to brag further why we rock. Let's bask in our glow, shall we?
- Marie Curie
- Judy Garland
- Benjamin Franklin
- Mark Twain
- Lady Gaga
- Leonardo di Vinci
- Oprah Winfrey
- Bill Gates
- Bob Dylan
- Ruth Bader Ginsberg
- John F. Kennedy
- Marilyn Monroe
- Helen Keller
- Julia Roberts
- Jimi Hendrix
- Wolfgang Mozart
- Richard Pryor
- Ludwig von Beethoven
- Alexander the Great
- Emma Thompson
- Tina Fey
- Robert Plant
- Jay Leno
- Phil Collins
- Dan Ackroyd
- Isaac Hayes
- And so, so many more!
And that, my Lefty friends, is why we are legendary. (tugs on ear a la Carol Burnett)
© 2017 Lauren Sutton