The term ‘simp’ has gained a lot of traction in the past few months, and if you don’t know what it means, it’s typically used to refer to a man who does “excessive” nice things for a woman, usually with the intention of receiving a sexual favor in return. Or, sometimes, it is used to describe a man who puts too much value on or does too much for a woman. The term is often categorized by its connection to sexual interactions or that men are “weak” for showing affection to others, women in particular.
The definition of the word ‘simp’ itself implies women only deserve respect in return for a sexual favor and that a man who is kind to a woman is doing “too much” and is “overly desperate.” The use of ‘simp’ in the everyday vernacular is an indication of the way we have normalized toxic male behaviors and set appraisal for the bare minimum. Not only does the term ‘simp’ lower the bar of respect women have been fighting to raise for hundreds of years, but it suggests that relationships or dating exist solely to serve as a vehicle for sexual interaction. Doing something in a relationship should not be based on whether or not it will end up with a sexual favor, and doing nice things for your partner should be expected and normal. The importance of sexual intimacy plays in a relationship is completely unique to the people involved and every couple should set this importance for themselves. However, the idea that women should receive respect and basic decency without incentive should be uncontested.
A common phrase I’ve heard from my female friends or on social media feed has been, “he’s so nice and respectful, he didn’t even try to touch me or do anything when we drank.” Instances like this, or trusting a guy to hold your drink at a party, or asking for consent, or not pressuring you into anything you’re uncomfortable with, or quite simply just not being a sexist person should all be normalized ideals. However, as a product of hundreds of years of ingrained gender norms mixed with the social acceptance of this kind of toxic and abusive behavior, many young women see the bare minimum as exceeding expectations.
This is not to say there aren’t many actually respectful and good men. But what does it say about our society when young women praise men for not raping them? Or for actually caring about them, particularly without an expected sexual motive?
My close friend Hailey has often been chastised for having standards that are “too high” when it comes to dating men. She’s constantly being told that she needs to lower her expectations, but in reality, she simply longs for a partner which she feels a genuine connection with and is a kind, respectful person. The critical remarks made when Hailey refuses to accept a connection below her standards make Hailey herself out to be the villain for wanting to be with a genuine, kind, mature man, which, frankly, sounds to me like basic human decency. She tells me she feels like men aren’t held to the same standards that women are. If women aren’t kind, optimistic, and held together at all times, they’re often seen as over-dramatic, stupid, unreasonable, aggressive, or rude. And yet, when a man isn’t kind or respectful, it’s normal.
It’s 2020, and the idea that women deserve basic respect and decency should be obvious- especially in relationships, which are supposed to be a safe haven. For those of you who identify as women, I urge you to expect more and don’t condone disrespect if you’re in the position to safely stand up for what’s right and what women deserve. Women deserve to have a connection deeper than sex and be respected for more than just their bodies. For those of you who identify as men, I urge you to examine your own incentives and call out those who aren’t exhibiting respect or only exhibiting respect for nefarious reasons. And for everyone, a person who cares about another person and wants to do things for them isn’t weak at all— in fact, that’s what helps make us strong. We all deserve respect, and far more than a farce for sexual favors.