By now it is almost certain that you have heard the word “simp” at least once, and unfortunately, this humble writer doesn’t think they’ll stop hearing it anytime soon. Plastered all over the internet, and subsequently in conversations with friends, are references to “simping” and “simp nation” when referencing men who are in (or trying to be in) relationships with women and are considered to be “doing the most”.
What does simping even mean, and is it good or bad to be one? I would argue that the perpetuation of simping is tremendously dangerous to the world of dating. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a second to outline this, and chat about why there is a need for critical self-reflection in regards to the use of this language.
But first, who is a simp?
A simp is best defined as a man who goes to extreme lengths to get a girl to like him without receiving sex in return. However, there is a surprisingly far-reaching debate about the origins of this term and what it means colloquially. Some cite the beginnings of this concept as an acronym standing for “Sucker Idolizing Mediocre Pussy”, which falls in line with the concept of putting in a lot of effort for a seemingly “unsatisfying” reward.
A simp may be characterized as buying a girl flowers, talking on the phone frequently, spending lots of time with someone, and helping them through things when they need it. To me, this seems like the actions of someone in a loving and healthy relationship, but I digress.
While the word can be traced back to rap songs of the ‘80s and ‘90s from artists such as Ice-T, this term became most popular within the past year via the social media platform TikTok. The account that has been credited with the popularization of this phenomenon is @polo.boyy, who has been joined by a plethora of men following his trend of welcoming men into “Simp Nation”. In the trend men often describe the behaviors of a “simp” and hold their hands out ushering men who could be characterized as simps. . These Tikoks have set the standard for who a simp is, what they act like, and how they should be treated by fellow men.
Why should I care?
To be honest, dear reader, I struggle to find a reason why you shouldn’t care. On the surface this is a harmless trend poking fun at men who are dedicated to the women they’re pursuing romantically with little-to-no social repercussions, right?
In all seriousness, calling someone a simp and therefore upholding this phenomenon has toxic effects on dating culture, and is especially dangerous to the women being pursued. For one thing, being considered a member of Simp Nation disincentivizes men from doing what is considered to be the bare minimum in respecting someone they’re seeking a relationship with. Doing nice things for someone and making them feel special opens up a place in that person’s mind where the possibility of you two being together grows. It is certainly not a bad thing to foster a sense of trust and make someone feel special in your eyes. Those who argue the usefulness of this term, however, would say that it threatens their perceived domination and masculinity. And therein lies the problem.
Many of the identified dangers of interpersonal and relationship violence relate to the perpetrator wanting to be in control of every aspect of the relationship, including establishing power over the other and how the perpetrator is perceived. This desire to establish power most certainly comes from the outside expectations of men; young boys especially police each other’s behavior in many different ways, and dating is no exception. A growing number of young men are feeling pressured to outwardly disrespect their significant other in exchange for validation from their peers. This harmful societal pressure plays into every aspect of a boy’s life and even correlates to rape culture.
What is rape culture, and what does it mean for women?
Rape culture is defined as the social mechanism that normalizes rape and its associated behaviors, creating a largely unsafe environment for women especially. More specifically to this conversation, rape culture means the glamorization or normalization of sexually objectifying women and expecting them to only serve the purpose of pleasing a man.
The guidelines of being a simp very much mirror this concept in the way that it maintains the transactional nature of dating; a woman is to provide sex to a man so long as he does nice things for her. With the continuation of calling someone a simp, those participating are perpetuating a narrative that reduces women to their capacity to sexually please someone else.
It also renders the exchange of power that occurs during sex between these aforementioned people completely one-sided, and expects the women to be completely submissive to the dominant man.
The societal views of men and women should never cause one to live in fear of being raped, as this establishes deep-seated anxieties about the world that women are disproportionately subject to that result in pronounced feelings of exhaustion and frustration that come with this that no one should be subjected to.
On top of all this, who said that sex only has to be between a man and a woman? We as a society are past the point of assuming that all romantic encounters are going to be heterosexual. This pushing of a compulsory heterosexuality narrative erases the possibility of men romantically pursuing other men, or women not wanting to be pursued by anyone other than a woman.
The idea of simping also operates within the gender binary, which discounts the identities of those who do not fall into either category of male or female, making the dating scene once again a difficult place to be for anyone who is not cisgender or heterosexual.
Believe it or not, the concept of simping harms men, too.
What is even less talked about is the detrimental effects that men can experience from the notions of a “simp” and its relationship to rape culture is imperative to discuss despite the lack of attention it gets. Internally, the social pressure from avoiding being titled a simp reinforces the already prevalent need for young boys to have outside validation of their masculinity. One should be allowed to validate themselves in order to define for themselves what dating means to them, and therefore reduce the risks of falling into the expectations of rape culture. Feeling pressure to commit acts of violence (blatant or not) is terrifying in its own regard, and more spaces need to be opened up for men to discuss this without fear of judgment.
When attempting to fulfill expectations and avoid being a simp, men truly create a self-fulfilling prophecy of characterizing them as only living for sexual satisfaction. Women are pushed more and more to be wary of men as a whole, leading to phenomena such as the “kill all men” discourse moving through the internet currently. While there is more than enough reason for women to be afraid of any and all interactions with men they don’t already know, more and more men are coming up in arms about this due to not wanting to be generalized.
My rebuttal to this would be: if you don’t want to be lumped into a group of scary, vile men, why aren’t you calling them out when they’re being scary and vile? Men as a whole are being regarded this way due to the dominant discourse coming out of groups of men online and how men treat women in interpersonal interactions.
This is happening for a reason, and more men need to be critically examining why. Additionally, when a man is perpetuating this behavior, he has effectively erased any and all possibility of genuine connection and partnership with a woman due to the severing of trust that occurs when avoiding acting like a simp. There is something to be said for the lose-lose nature of this relationship.
So…what am I supposed to do about this?
The most commonly cited method of taking action against forms of inequality nowadays has been community-based action, and I personally align with this school of thought. Therefore, the solutions that I propose to this issue are largely internally and interpersonally based. Oftentimes the biggest changes start with small actions.
One of the most effective ways to address issues regarding dating and the disrespect of women within it is to start a dialogue about it! Seems simple, right?
One of the root issues with the perpetuation of violence is the lack of discourse surrounding it. Talk to your friends about why the term simp and the harmful effects of the term and what it might mean to them. . If you’re feeling more confrontational, call them out if they’re using that word in a negative light. The most crucial way to change hearts and minds is by talking about things first.
What is arguably more important is checking in with yourself on your feelings surrounding things like interpersonal violence and how it’s perpetuated. Ask yourself how things like simping make you feel. Do you feel angry when talking about it? Indifferent? Sad?
These things will inform the action you take to make change. Not everyone has to be in the streets screaming about tearing down the system! (However, if you are, I’ll meet you there.) Activism takes many forms, and only you get to choose what form is right for you. For the time being, let’s start by calling out frat boys for calling each other simps. Don’t kid yourself, we both know you’ll have fun doing it.