Sunday, November 6, 2011

TWGLCM (pron. twiggle-kim) [Acronyms 02; PhD Ideas 02]

TWGLCM (pron. twiggle-kim) stands for Tall White Good-Looking Christian Male. TWGLCMs are given the benefit of the doubt as to their intelligence, competence and trustworthiness. Yes, even by me. I flatter myself that I detect smarts and sense only from real evidence, but I have to admit that I am slow to conclude that a person is a fool and a flake if he is a TWGLCM.*

Change a single adjective in TWGLCM and the favorable presumption decreases quite a bit.  If a man is short instead of tall; black instead of white; pleasant-looking rather than good-looking; Muslim, Hindu or Jewish instead of Christian, he will have to try harder to appear smart, reliable and honest. Change two adjectives and the man might as well be a woman. That is, change the noun from male to female, and, the presumption is almost entirely rebutted.

A woman who is TWGLC (twigglic), rather than, say, SBFLM (short black funny-looking Muslim), has a far better chance of being judged based on who she is and what she does and does not do, but she's still she. Without the right adjectives, the negative presumptions -- stupidity, incompetence, untrustworthiness -- will apply until there is overwhelming contrary evidence (or forever, despite it).  Move one of the first three variables (height, skin color and looks) to the middle range, and the woman's odds improve a little. Switch three of SBFLM to the TWGLC set, and baby, you're on your way to being evaluated on your merits, almost.

I say this having examined my own reactions, as well as those of everyone around me. It does not matter that the observer has few of the adjectives in his favor, or not even the noun in her favor.  I myself am a SWFLJF.  The problem is that few of us can escape what we've absorbed unconsciously throughout our lives, in our schools and communities and from the media, old or new. Of course, sometimes not being entirely TWGLC can work for a man: Ross Perot may have done better in the 1992 election because he was short and funny-looking, but then his platform was that he was different.

The reason this post is in the PhD Ideas series as well as the Acronym series is this: PhD candidates and tenure-track scholars in social psychology could test the TWGLCM hypothesis. The subjects need not be Americans or Westerners, either. Just substitute the majority religion for the C. Otherwise, the letters should stay except perhaps for the W which could be LS (light shade).  A future post will consider Shadism (pron. shade-ism) and how it appears to affect people of all shades, whether they are in a mixed society or not, and regardless of northern European (that is, very light shade) domination, influence or even presence.

If you know of any past experiments into TWGLCM prejudices, please let me know.  If you decide to do one yourself, please let me know that, too.  Thanks!

*I invented TWGLCM around 1995 after struggling to comprehend the poor performance of a TWGLCM student.  Ever since then, I have used the acronym occasionally in conversation and emails.  This written version was first drafted in 2010. - RJM

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