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Shallan&Pattern

What if I'm a left handed woman on Roshar

Question

So I am left handed. Would that mean that my safe hand is my right hand or would I have to learn to do things with my right? I am guessing the latter but I just want to know.

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18 answers to this question

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Quote

Questioner

Safehands: Where did, that-- like why? Is there like a cultural *inaudible*?

Brandon Sanderson

There is a culture-- Now the actual answer to that is because different cultures have really different mores, and if you go around our world you will find places where, for instance, showing the bottom of your foot-- where the bottom of your foot is offensive, or where showing certain parts of your anatomy is not offensive that it is here. And that is very common, it's part of what it means to be human.

Now if you want to trace back in Rosharan time, there is actually a moment that you can point at and say "this is where it started" and it started right after the Recreance where all these Shardblades and Shardplate were suddenly out there everywhere, and certain people in power wanted to make sure that half the population didn't have access to them, and so they started emphasizing a certain philosophy book that had been written by a woman that said "feminine arts were one-handed, masculine arts were two-handed".

And because of this it became culturally ingrained, which then-- basically it was a misogynistic ploy to keep the women from having the Shardblades, and then in that a certain movement of the women seized writing, and that's when men stopped writing. It's kind of a reciprocation on it. But that's kind of where it went, but it's become much bigger than that, if that makes any sense.

Questioner

What do you do if you safehand is your dominant hand?

Brandon Sanderson

If you are darkeyed it's not a problem, you just wear a glove. If you are lighteyed then you learn to write with your non-dominant hand, which is a problem.

Footnote: The book here is likely Arts and Majesty, referenced in WoR 25
Words of Radiance Seattle signing (March 8, 2014)

 

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yeah. Left handed Vorin women (especially lighteyed women) are gonna have a hard time.

It's not so bad for darkeyes because they just wear a glove and have less pressure against using that hand at all, but it'd be bad for lighteyed women.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Karger said:

It specifically says safehand not left hand.  Feminine tasks are broadly those that can be accomplished one handed so yes you would cover your right hand.

This is incorrect. The safehand is always the left hand. Left-handed people just have to adapt.

Quote

Questioner

She wanted to know, the safehand, is it always the left hand or is it--

Brandon Sanderson

It is.

Questioner

That's what I thought, she thought it was just the non-dominant hand.

Brandon Sanderson

Nope, it is the-- So it's rough on lefties. But remember, most non-nobles they just wear a glove, so it's not such a big deal for them. It's when you're noble and left handed that you kind of have a problem.

Firefight Atlanta signing (Jan. 24, 2015)

 

Edited by RShara
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Posted (edited)

Left handed people in real life were forced to write with their right so I'd imagine the same thing in Roshar.

Edited by Pagliacci
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Posted (edited)

Are you sure?  Sorry lag time.

Edited by Karger
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That's literally what that Word of Brandon says so....

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4 minutes ago, Karger said:

Are you sure?

Yes, there's literally two WoBs in this thread that say so...

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It's not very suprising nor without precedent in human societies, especially in Asia and the Middle East where certain fundamental tasks are "always" done with the "proper" hand, and it's not even a question of "but I'm left handed". Since before you could remember you'd have been taught and trained to do those things with the right or left hand, that all.

Examples: in East Asian countries using chopsticks is traditionally done with the right hand, and children are taught to eat with them very early on with the right hand. Mostly you see left-handed Westerners or other people who learned to use chopsticks after learning to write using chopsticks with the left hand, or people doing it to accentuate being different. This is partly for practical reasons; when seated in a row as on a bench, someone using the left hand to eat will bump elbows with their neighbor's right elbow, as the standard way to eat rice or non-soup noodles is in a small bowl held up in the air with the left hand, not placed on the table, and using the right hand to wield the chopsticks to move the food as short a distance to the mouth as possible, to avoid dropping it.

It's not never, though; people joke about "dueling with a lefty" while eating seated next to one, so people must have seen or experienced it at some point. And it's not particularly mean-spirited, like the lefty is made an object of ridicule, more like a head-shaking at how this person was not "pruned" properly by their parents or teachers and were let to be a slightly square peg in a round-holed society.

Same thing with writing: it is heavily enforced for children to learn to write Chinese characters with the right hand, as calligraphy is prized and stroke order and directionality is formalized, and using the left hand will produce "weird looking" strokes. At least with the traditional brush and ink type writing; this is probably much less of a big deal now with ballpoint pens and computer keyboards, but the cultural reinforcement is still there. It would take a fairly "liberal" or permissive schooling for someone to have been allowed to learn to write with the left hand since childhood ("going lefty" at some point as a rebellious thing being something else).

And then there's the "left hand taboos" in India or the Middle East, where one eats and shakes hands with other people strictly with the right hand, because the left hand is used for personal hygiene. To eat food with your left hand would immediately seem disgusting, and to extend one's left hand to another person highly offensive.

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Well...I dunno how to deal with that on Roshar, but you can join The Left Handers' here on the Shard.

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There are no left handed swordsman in Japan.

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My uncle was left handed as a child and his teacher and father forced him to write right-handed.  He does so as an adult, but has a very unusual grip: instead of the the pencil being in a / position in his hand, he holds it \ as if it was in his left.  I have no idea how he can see what he is writing, but it's natural to him at this point.

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I was under the impression that Evi was left handed. Now I need to go find my books and reread the flashbacks about her trying to conform. 

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4 hours ago, Iadn said:

I was under the impression that Evi was left handed. Now I need to go find my books and reread the flashbacks about her trying to conform. 

She was. Iri and Rira don't do the safehand thing, it's only Vorin areas that do.

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1 hour ago, Invocation said:

She was. Iri and Rira don't do the safehand thing, it's only Vorin areas that do.

Yep, and we see exactly hope the Vorin areas treat lefty women. They make them use their right hand to write/draw.

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Here's my question on this subject. Did anyone else connect this to Great Britain (not now of course)? Being right-handed was considered correct etiquette in a way. Lefties were forced to use their right hand because that was what was expected. So eating, writing, (and so on) had to be done right-handed. I find Great Britain Culturally very interesting, so I made the connection early on, but I wondered if anyone else did.

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23 minutes ago, That_One_Fangirl said:

Here's my question on this subject. Did anyone else connect this to Great Britain (not now of course)? Being right-handed was considered correct etiquette in a way. Lefties were forced to use their right hand because that was what was expected. So eating, writing, (and so on) had to be done right-handed. I find Great Britain Culturally very interesting, so I made the connection early on, but I wondered if anyone else did.

That's one of the inspirations for the idea, yeah. The superstition that the left hand was bad luck was (and still is) pretty common.

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It specifically says safehand not left hand.  Feminine tasks are broadly those that can be accomplished one handed so yes you would cover your right hand.

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