Handism in SF/F/SF

Standout Author and anti-handist activist Mike Z. Williamson was inspired to action after encountering this troubling discussion of racism:

Stephen Geigen-Miller
June 13th, 2013 at 1:41 pm · Reply
I agree completely and deeply respect what you’re doing in this post
overall. Because of that, may I please suggest that you rethink your use
of the phrase “tarred by association”? There are some problematic
connotations there. Thanks very much.

Jim C. Hines
June 13th, 2013 at 1:51 pm · Reply
– I’m not familiar with the connotations in question, and Google is
failing me. Can you help fill in this knowledge gap for me?
Thomas Wilde

June 13th, 2013 at 1:57 pm · Reply
I’m assuming he’s referring to tar babies or somesuch.
June 13th, 2013 at 2:06 pm · Reply
Tarring and feathering. Also associated with lynching.

Josh Hawks
June 13th, 2013 at 2:28 pm · Reply
I’m assuming it’s referring to tarring and feathering (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarring_and_feathering), which does have classist/racist undertones.

Jim C. Hines
June 13th, 2013 at 2:15 pm · Reply
Had a quick and interesting Twitter chat about it, and did a little reading at http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-tar1.htm. I did go ahead and change that phrase, though. I like the new version better anyway
To which Mr. Williamson responded on the subject of privilege and the discriminatory bias of handism:
There’s one minority still not given proper respect in language: Left handers. The term “sinister” is still used as an epithet for evil, wrong, unpleasant. Likewise, “gauche” is a reference to rude behavior.  People are considered “dextrous” if they have good manual skills.

Why are the negative connotations expressed using references to left handedness, and positive connotations reserved for the right?

Writers, especially in fantasy, usually right-handed, should stop using these prejudicial terms and find terms that are non-handed specific.

This is a worldwide issue.  Only about 15% of the population are left handed…. I’m sure most people have never thought of this.  They have right-handed privilege, in a world that caters to them.

I’m sure some will dismiss this as a non-issue.  I challenge them to go into a store and ask for every household good in a left-handed model.  If the store has any, they will have a token one or two of each, not the dozens or hundreds of right handed options.  Buy them.  Go home and use them in your right hand so you’re using them backward. That’s what it’s like for left handed people every day of our lives.

Politically, I’ve seen conservatives refer to the political right being “correct” and the political left being “wrong.”

Then crack open a book and find the bad guy is “sinister” and the clueless guy is “gauche.”  Gee, thanks for that.

“Right” is an acknowledgment of correctness.  One gets “left behind.”
I expect there are a number of fantasy writers who are major offenders on this.  But if they’re taking steps with racially, culturally, gender and religiously sensitive terms, it would be fair to not use terms derogatory to the left handed minority as well.

This moving missive has truly opened my eyes to my right-handed privilege.  Was it an accident that the handist and racist Ursula le Guin asserted it was the LEFT hand that was DARK?  Was it a coincidence that the handist and religious bigot Jerry Jenkins related the LEFT to the body part most associated with ordure, the BEHIND?  Truly, the evil is rife within the genre! I can only abase myself and hope Mr. Williamson will accept my humble apologies for my thoughtless handism.  I henceforth pledge to do my level best to excise this shameful scourge of handist privilege from science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction.