Guido // is a slang term, often derogatory, for a working-class urban Italian American. The guido stereotype is multi-faceted. Originally, it was used as a demeaning term for Italian Americans in general. More recently, it has come to refer to Italian Americans who conduct themselves in an overtly macho manner. The time period in which it obtained the latter meaning is not clear, but some sources date it to the 1970s or 1980s.
The word "guido" is derived from either the proper name "Guido" or the verb "guidare" (to drive). Fishermen of Italian descent were once often called "Guidos" in medieval times.
Modern usage and the Italian-American reaction
The term is used in metropolitan areas associated with large Italian-American populations, such as New York, Ohio, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. In other areas, terms such as "Mario" (Chicago) and "Gino" (Toronto) have a meaning similar to guido. Although some Italians self-identify as "guidos", the term is often considered derogatory or an ethnic slur.
The term caused controversy in 2009 when MTV used the term in promotions for the reality television show Jersey Shore. This spurred objections from Italian-American organizations such as Unico National, NIAF, the Order Sons of Italy in America, and the Internet watchdog organization ItalianAware. Although MTV removed the term from some promotions, it remains closely associated with the show, and some of the cast members use it regularly to describe themselves while the females sometimes refer to themselves as a "guidette."
Clothing associated with the stereotype includes gold chains (often herringbones chains, Figaro chains, cornicellos, or saint medallions), pinky rings, working class clothing such as plain T-shirts, muscle shirts or "guinea Ts", leather jackets, sweat or tracksuits, scally caps, unbuttoned dress shirts, and often typical Italian "terrone" or "truzzo" club dress. Slicked-back hair and pompadours, blowouts, tapers, poofs, fades and heavily pomaded or gelled hair are also common stereotypes. In regards to Italian-American women associated with the stereotype or subculture, The New York Times in 2013 described bridge and tunnel female clubgoers traveling to Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry on a Saturday evening as wearing "a kaleidoscope of cheetah print, high heels, higher heels and assorted renderings of the Italian flag."
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- Flegenheimer, Matt (2013-06-29). "A Ship of Love Passing in the Night. By Day, It’s the Ferry Again.". The New York Times. pp. A1. Retrieved 2013-06-28.