let them eat cake

February 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

In a previous post we discussed the Guido phenomenon currently taking centre stage in American reality tv, but north of their border, a similar situation has set apart young affluent Italian-Canadians in Toronto. An article, calling them the Armani Generation, singled out this group as materialistic and flashy, presenting the stereotyped Ginos and Ginas as undervaluing education (Giampapa 2004, p.199)

Here is an extended analysis of the Gino/Gina stereotype from AllExperts

Gino (Pronounced Gee-noh) in Canadian or Australian slang (although the term wog is often preferred in Australia) is the masculine form (the feminine form is Gina) of someone of European descent, particularly Mediterranean (eg Italian, Greek, Portuguese) descent, who dresses in tight clothing (particularly denim), uses excessive amounts of hair gel, wears gold chains, diamond stud earrings, and has a macho attitude.

The term “Gino” may be considered a racial slur against Italian men, but many young people associate it exclusively with the Gino/Gina subculture with or without a negative connotation. In putting a lot of effort into their physical appearance, some may consider ginos to be metrosexual, or perceive them as being homosexual. As with any other subculture, this is a poor generalization since sexual orientation depends on the individual.

In the case of young Italians, particularly in Montreal, during the late 1990s the term “Gino” was prominently substituted for Bro. The older generation of ginos might be seen as different as they have an old-school style deriving from the 1980s and early 90s. They tend to drive domestic cars, and wear not-so-tight denim apparel, accompanied by dress shirts and leather jackets.

Canadian ginos (especially Montrealers, Torontonians, and Hamiltonians) show a lot of interest in clubbing and promoting. They also tend to be DJs, glowstickers, and have a passion for nightlife. These ginos and ginas usually drive imported cars (e.g. Honda Civics) (unlike the ginos and ginas of the 80s who mainly drove Iroc Zs and Ford Mustangs.) They listen to European techno which includes Eurodance, House, Trance, and Freestyle music – referred to as “gino beats”. They tend to wear European designer clothing (Gucci, Diesel, D&G) or European sports apparel (Adidas, Puma, Kappa, European sports Jerseys).

In Toronto, the suburban community of Woodbridge (belonging to the municipality of Vaughan), is considered the epicentre of the gino population as it has a high population of Italians. Other communities with high Italian or other European populations are also likely to have a high gino population (eg Richmond Hill, Weston, Mississauga, Hamilton etc). In the case of Montreal, the St-Leonard borough, also having a high Italian population, is commonly regarded as the epicentre of the Bro population. However, the Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles borough easily rounds off at second, as demographically, it has seen a drastic increase in number of Canadian-Italian occupants.

What is interesting is that Gino seems to be moving towards an adjectival function just as hori has discussed in earlier posts:

Cover is cheap and drinks are TO priced, which is fine, parking is free and they got valet if you want. This club is soooo gino/gina/european crowd and thats honeslty what I like, they have a strict dress code and ppl are always sporting there best threads. My friends and I club in TO every Saturday and for what???….If Splash had this same party going on Sat I would never go to TO anymore. All in all this gets a 10/10 and this club smokes TO clubs by a long shot, TO’s got nothin on “Splash on a Friday With HAMMER & DJ DAMMY D”!!!!!!

So we have another ethnophaulism derived from a proper noun, i.e., a name. But this group has an interesting name for the surrounding majority Ablog saxon and Anglophone majority, but the term mangiachecca ‘cake eater’ is an ethnophaulism based on perceived culinary habits, just as an old man in my Vanuatu village calls urban dwelling Ni-Vanuatu milk drinkers, a european introduction to the Melanesian diet unavailable in rural sectors of the country. Mangiachecca has been anglicised to cake eater or in a nice piece of new word formation, caker. To be cakerised describes Italian-Canadians who have assimilated.

Giampapa, Frances. (2004) The Politics of Identity, Representation, and the Discourses of Self-identification: Negotiating Margins and periphery, in Aneta Pavlenko, Adrian Blackledge Negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.


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