I have a confession to make. I love the male cast members of MTV’s now media-saturated hit, “Jersey Shore.” I want to rub my hands over The Situation‘s abs and my fingers through Pauly D‘s hair. I want to giggle at nothing with Ronnie and hold Vinny’s hand as we stroll down the boardwalk. Ladies, listen up: guidos are catches!As a card-carrying, globe-trotting feminist, the child of intellectual Jewish-Ukrainian parents and a confessed New York scenester, I am anything but a mainstream dater. I’ve always secretly loved juiceheads, and been loved by them. Why? Because at their core, they are (Sammi?) sweethearts. Guidos operate on a code of chivalry, and I am a pro-chivalry feminist. After being shoved out of the way by businessmen for subway seats when I lived in Tokyo and being asked to buy my own drinks in New York for the past five years, I am hungry for guidos who place a high value on treating women like women.
I risk echoing the words of da Shore castmates when I say that “guido” is a pan-ethnic term. It refers to a lifestyle, not a country of origin. Yes, a strong contingent of guidos are Italian with their neo-American masculinity. But in Japan, where I used to live, it’s called “ganguro,” which translates as literally “black face,” a reaction to the uptight geisha culture of artificially whitened skin and repression. In Paris, it’s called “racaille” and features tight jeans and fannypacks. In India, it’s called club culture: see Mumbai modern and Bollywood hip-hop.
My Jewish camp outside Philadelphia was guido-central. My cabin was full of girls who teased their hair Bumpit-style. I sat sensitively making friendship bracelets and idolizing The Cure—but there was never a wall between us. And there was something about them I felt truly drawn to. In Wildwood, New Jersey, where we poor Philly folks went down to the shore, it was a tanned skin mecca where the girls called you “hun” and the guys called you “sweetheart.” I loved going there as a kid. My older sister, a 100 percent Ukrainian beauty, was a certified guidette who worked as a games operator on the boardwalk. I idolized her and her gelled boyfriends who bought her 14K necklaces and me teddy bears.
Years later, I went to a magnet high school, had pink hair, and read classics for fun. But, I also had a bad boy boyfriend who dropped out of high school to the dismay of his born-again Christian parents. He wanted to marry me and be my baby daddy and it was only after watching “Jersey Shore” did these long-repressed memories come loose, along with this realization: I was a guidette as a teenager. More accurately, I was the guido’s alternative girlfriend. My greatest pleasures in life were going to the gym, buying mini skirts from Strawberry on my boyfriend’s construction worker cash, being taken out to Bennigan’s and laying around on leather couches making out. I was even a lifeguard and my Irish Catholic beau bought me flowers weekly, just like J-Woww’s did.
After my first love, I went on to study philosophy at a large university in Pennsylvania. It was my final induction into guidohood. I could always count on appreciation as “the artsy girl.” While I considered myself a tortured, romantic French philosophe and not funky punk-rocker, I enjoyed that they were trying to typecast me as much I was them. Guidos were a welcome respite from hipster art boys, and their urban flair and flashy romanticism appealed to me even though I stuck monogamously with a man who called himself my “househusband.” As I lead the feminist campus group, he donned an apron and cooked for our events.
Guidos even followed me to Japan, where I found Asian ones who would wine and dine me like no shy emo band guitarist would. Back in New York, I almost fell in love with a Jew-jock, an observant guido—from the Jersey Shore, no less—who treated me like a lady and never judged me. Later, I dated an Israeli guido whose Polo Sport scent reminded me of my first love. I’d forgotten all about him until the “Jersey Shore” episode where an Israeli girl “stalked” Pauly D. When things flamed out, she yelled at him, “You guys are just like Israelis!” Vinny stuck up for him. “Yeah, but we ain’t shootin’ nobody.” He let the divisive guido in-fighting come out, not realizing they (we?) are all members of the same tribe.
Because at the root of it, guidos are family-oriented, gentlemanly, monogamous, and super-sincere. Once you have a guido in love, he becomes a prince. “Never fall in love at the Jersey Shore,” Ronnie said. Until it became, “I thought the shore house was the best thing to happen to me, but you are,” through tears to Sammi.
Now for the bad news. Guidos come from a culture rooted in the virgin/ho-ar mythology when it comes to women. This is why they treat their women like either princesses or skanks. As a Puerto Rican guido-friend once told me, the wife is the virgin and that is their queen. But, the mistresses are the ho-ars who you can go through “like Gatorade bottles,” to quote The Situation. Also, since old-school honor means respect of the street, things get violent between men easily. Hitting women is another thing — not allowed, a serious blow to the cultural code which is what made the fact that someone punched Snooki that much more shocking.
But women hitting men? That’s allowed. Are the women of the “Jersey Shore” feminists for fighting and physically demanding more of their men? Interestingly, J-Woww punched The Situation for not walking her home like a gentleman, when she obviously could defend herself. But the rule of protection still lives with guidos, and Mike violated that code. After being put in a cab after too many bad dates to remember, I’d take an old-school guido over a hipster any day.
So, “Jersey Shore” watchers, if you can be a guido’s queen, and convince him to not cheat, you have found gold. They are straight-forward and say things that make average guys cringe. This wonderful childlike corniness always makes me melt. I echo the words of my girl, Snooki, when I say I am looking for my king and that my dream is to “move to Jersey, find a nice, juiced, hot, tan guy and live my life.” Only minus the Jersey, juiced, and tan parts.