The tyranny of right-handedness …

For the past two months, my right wrist and hand have been wrapped up, more or less immobilized because of a silly accident I had at the beach back in August.

As a right-handed person, this has been, at the very least, a bother. After surgery earlier this month, it was more than a bother, because my right thumb was totally immobilized for 10 days.

left_right_symbol_art_drink_coaster-r5e8f828876694e9bbab78224c87deafb_x7jy0_8byvr_324It was only from this experience that I became painfully aware of the tyranny of right-handedness in the world.

When your right hand – and especially your right thumb – is unavailable to you, and you are right-handed, you discover that the word is not built for you.

Really. It’s not.

Zippers on pants? They are made for right-handers.

Scissors? Unless you can find and buy special ones, they’re made for right-handers as well.

Door handles and door knobs? Can openers? Hand shakes? Men’s shirt buttons? Ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto and ditto.

Heck, even typing is taught for righties, as in: I was taught to press the space bar with my right thumb, not my left. (Made you look, didn’t I? I never even realized that – until I couldn’t do it.)

I am telling you, there is a tyranny of right-handedness in this world, and I had no idea it even existed!

Of course, whenever I commented on this to left-handed people, they just laughed knowingly.

“Yep,” they would say. “Been dealing with that all my life.”

For one of our church flea markets, I needed to cut out raffle tickets. There was no way I could do it, not with my thumb wrapped up to three times its normal size and immobilized to boot. So I asked one of the teen-agers to help, showing her my wrapped-up hand and making a crack about scissors being for righties only. She then told me she was a leftie, and had been forced to learn to cut things with her right hand. That’s the first time I even knew she was a leftie. Because I wasn’t paying attention before this.

And my Big Brother? He’s a leftie who as a child was forced, by nuns, to learn to use his right hand. Now, he writes with his left, but still does a ton of other things as a rightie. Twas the way things were in those days, I suppose. But in talking with Big Brother about his experiences, he pointed out lots of other things that are right-handed (or mostly right-handed): Baseball gloves. Golf clubs. And from his time in the Army, automatic and semi-automatic weapons (the brass ejects from the right side).

So, yeah, ever since I was a child and heard his stories, I’ve known – kind of – of the tyranny of right-handedness. But I never gave it much thought. After all, the world was set up for me, and I could cruise through life knowing – knowing! – that all was well.

Until I got tossed by a wave and stuck out my hands to keep my face from being bounced off the ocean floor, and thus messed up one of my tendons, and from that learned all about De Quervain Tenosynovitis. (Trust me, when the orthopedic surgeon spit that one out, quite nonchalantly, my only possible response was, “Ooookaaaaayyy.”)

Because once I suffered that injury, and had my thumb and wrist immobilized, and then had the surgery, immobilizing my hand even more, I never once even thought about the privileges I enjoy as a right-hander.

I simply enjoyed my privilege, and whenever I encountered a leftie who was struggling in a rightie world, I pretty much assumed they would have to adapt to my privilege. (Learn to cut things with your right hand. Learn to open cans with your right hand. Adapt. Struggle. Survive my way, because my way is the world’s way. Deal with it.)

Now, of course, after a mere two months of having to live with this restriction, I am aware. There were even times when I was infuriated because I was so frustrated by the unfairness of it all. Oh, I got some sympathy for my frustrations, but mostly, the sympathy was for the injury and subsequent surgery. As to the rightie-leftie debate? Most people just shrugged and assured me that soon, my hand would be healed and I could go back to my position of privilege (not that they called it that, of course. They used terms like “normal.”)

I know, my injury is a not a big deal in the greater scheme of things. My tendon soon will be healed, and I will go back to doing all those things I’ve always done, with such great ease, because I am, after all, right-handed. There is a tyranny of right-handedness in the world, but soon, it won’t affect me anymore. Because I’m right-handed, I could, if I wanted, even forget about the tyranny I experienced for two whole months of my life.

But that’s not the point to this column. Forget about right-handedness vs. left-handedness.

Instead, imagine that we’re talking about whites and blacks – and all other people of color – in this county.

Imagine we’re talking about #BlackLivesMatter. And #NativeLivesMatter. And #LatinoLivesMatter. And #AsianLivesMatter.

NOW does the tyranny of white privilege makes sense?

Because that’s what I’m really talking about. blacklivesmatter

 

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About Lauren Stanley

All my life, it seems, I’ve been on mission. And it’s all my mother’s fault. You see, when I was a child, my mother was adamant: We were to help those in need, those who had less than we did. We were to speak for those who could not speak, feed those who had no food, give water to those who were thirsty.

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