Today I Learnt: Simp And How The Term Perpetuates Toxic Masculinity
If you’ve been on social media lately, chances are that you might have come across one of virtual world’s current colloquialisms—simp. The term has been spawning thousands of namesake accounts, comments and challenges on and off the social media platforms, with people calling each other simps or proclaiming to be a simp for a certain celebrity. So if you’re now wondering, “what exactly is a simp?’, buckle up. If you previously thought that the world didn’t have enough words or phrases to negatively associate emotional connectivity and vulnerability with weakness, here’s another one for you!
A simp is a person who does way too much for someone they like. And although the original term never specifies a gender, simp is usually used to exclusively describe men, and men’s behaviour towards women. One dictionary notes that the word is derived from a ‘simple man’ and defines it as “a man who puts too much value on a woman for no reason.” Another dictionary definition views the word as a slang insult that is used “for men who are seen as too attentive and submissive to women, especially out of a failed hope of winning some entitled sexual attention or activity from them.” In other words, the term is merely another way of creating an inherent link between treating women with respect and giving up control of one’s masculinity and independence.
Origin Of The Term
The phrase, whose original meaning is rooted in calling someone stupid, dates back to the 1920s when it appeared in a copy of The New York Times. The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English defines it as a shortened version of ‘simpleton’, and lists its first known usage in popular culture around 1946. Although it should be noted that the newer sense of the word, i.e. an insult towards a man for being ‘soft’ to his female friends, dates back to the 1980s and 1990s when a set of West Coast rappers started using it in their songs. Around the 2010s, the word was picked up by certain Men’s Rights Activist groups, who then made it a staple of men’s rights forums. Simp became associated with men who respected and viewed women as equals, and supported the cause of Feminism.
The word garnered attention once again when in 2019 a TikToker Marco Borghi made a video riffling on the notions of simps. Hence started a wave of simp content on TikTok and YouTube, initially only driven by men. More recently, the term has also been taken up by fan communities, who often refer to themselves as simps for their favourite stars.
So… Is The Word Sexist?
Yes, definitely. But why is the term so problematic, you may ask. Well, because in popular usage it’s being used to describe the bare minimum level of respect between a man and a woman. A boy regularly drops a girl home to make sure she’s safe? “That’s simp behaviour.” He texts her first? “He’s simping for her.” He speaks highly and respectfully of his girlfriend or the woman he’s sleeping with? “He’s such a simp.” As if the bar set for men was not already low, now even that bar is being tested and lowered.
Every single use of the term simp–by men, on men–even as a joke, is laced with misogyny. It promotes toxic masculinity, by undermining positive behaviours like that of civility and politeness. It endorses the belief that if a man is not controlling and dominating, and instead is appreciative of the women around him, he is something less of a man. Treating women kindly and respectfully should not be termed as simping. It’s basic human decency.
We should instead appreciate men who respect women. Be proud of men who have learnt how to approach women first in a healthy way. They are not simping for anyone, They are just individuals who have managed to unlearn the misogynistic behaviours that the society taught them since their childhood. They are just better people, and guess what? They probably have got a better game too.
Dyuti Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.