Editor’s Note: This month, that is September 2020, FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth is Boys, Men and Masculinities, where we invite various articles to highlight the different experiences of masculinity that manifest themselves in our everyday lives and have either challenged, subverted or even perpetuated traditional forms of ‘manliness’. If you’d like to share your article, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to Simp Nation. If you’re here and reading this, chances are you intend to find out whether you make the cut. Well, here you go.
Ever communicated the butterflies you felt to a crush? You’re a simp.
Made your lover a playlist or posted too much Timothee on your stories? Simping.
Arguing respect for sex workers in the comments section or willing to listen to a woman’s traumatic experiences with dating? CEO of Simp Nation. You’re welcome.
What Does It Mean? And Why Should One Care?
‘Simp’—the newest addition to the colloquial inheritance of Gen-Z and its slander rewarding mechanisms. The term has ubiquitously littered itself over all kinds of content online to an almost pathetic degree. A courtesy of TikTok, the word was customised in good humour but breeds in a toxic culture of shame that already sets the bar for basic human (read as alpha male) decency too low.
Perhaps tracing back to the etymology of the word would be a boomer exercise as the majority of its current users are likely unaware of its decades-long misogynistic past. To summarise its popular usage, ‘simp’ was targeted at men with overtly ‘nice’ behavior trying to overcompensate for their romantic failures with women. No points for guessing the assigned gender neutrality. In the 1980-90s, a set of West Coast rappers employed it in their songs as an insult for being “soft” or “overly sympathetic” particularly to women.
If you go by potent sources like Urban Dictionary, you are a ‘simp’ simply if you do too much for someone you like, more often than not to ‘get laid.’ With definitive ‘simp markers’ underlined, you qualify as one if you ‘put females before yourselves, hate slander of females and let them walk all over you.’ The NSFW version is an abbreviation for “Sucker Idolising Mediocre P*ssy.” Yet another embodiment of disappointed, but not surprised.
How else can you earnestly warrant shame for respectful, decent male behaviour in heteronormative dating ecosystems?
By equating one’s masculinity and independence to their inherent conduct towards women/ romantic partners by once again, reiterating, any form of vulnerability as ‘weakness.’
So We Shouldn’t Use It?
The word has been used far too often across all mainstream platforms by men insulting other men for being considerate towards women and respecting their bodily autonomy in relationships or otherwise. You are indeed telling the nice guys they ‘finish last’ because no part of being a simp is aspirational. One among those rappers, Too Short, who used it in his songs said, “It really degrades the person who you’re aiming it at.” In fact, “simp” was picked up by MRA’s and thrown around anti-feminist forums like Reddit for years.
‘Simping’ rests on the idea that men are capable of being considerate and kind only when they want to have sex with a woman. Essentially, reducing women to sex objects while absolutely dismissing the existence of healthy and platonic male-female friendships.
For the men who are encountering a somewhat gender, just dating culture, even accepting this equality may feel like submission. When the internet argues that ‘simp’ refers to the ideal of a submissive man, you’re implying that all men must be dominant. Dr. Raffaello Antonino, a counseling psychologist warns how such teasing and shaming at a psychological level can hamper self-esteem and self-confidence, as it may “correspond to the formation of negative beliefs about oneself.” Any stepping away from this masculinity, in order to please a woman, also conveniently aids the stereotypical plotline that women only intend to manipulate devoted men for their own selfish means.
If it isn’t apparent enough, simp-shaming isn’t about men at all; it’s all about manufacturing scapegoats for misogyny, gender regardless.
Within varying contexts, the word can mean an attack in passing or a wimpy teen whisper that gathers more retweets. Like most slangs once used to insult and oppress, it has been reclaimed, but it is imperative not to forget ergo dismiss its problematic usage.
As for those throwing around ‘simp’ as an insult or defining it for others lavishly, here’s when and why you need to stop—if you’re plainly referring to a man who considers a woman to be an actual person of complex thought, value and bodily integrity, or for that matter, any man who supports a woman, in any capacity (F words like feminism included). The dark fissures of the internet can do without projections of this toxic and frail sense of self.
Also read: Bollywood’s Tryst With Toxic Masculinity
Can It Be Used In A Good Way, Ever?
Probably. The term could hold some ground if it calls out a culture of leading someone on, emotionally. By undermining those who believe being a “nice guy” will get them laid, or, worse, for believing that women owe them anything at all, let alone sexual rewards for not treating them abhorrently. You are imitating niceness and concern expecting sexual intimacy in return, even if it means losing some dignity in the process.
Here’s a PSA: This is not acceptable in any universe and it doesn’t work!
There may have been some partial reclamation of the word, with women on TikTok successfully appropriating the term to celebrate their partners’ devotion. Though in heterosexual discourse, it may still be used as an insult towards its targets, the wider implications about women have been altered.
Differentiating ‘Culture’: Toxic From Trash
The popularity of ‘simp’ is rooted in a problematic fetish of the internet that identifies with toxic displays of manhood. The repurposing of this ‘trashy’ slang vocabulary is currently underway in a new wave of simp content with all genders and sexualities reclaiming ‘simp’ ironically, to embrace and appreciate the women in their lives.
You can be a simp for someone you’ve never had sex with, including people without vaginas and any/no sex organs. You can be simping for celebrities or just in general, for kind people absolved of their demons of toxic, traditional gender roles. We all can have someone simping for us or be simping. Amen to the internet for repeating words into redundancy and oblivion!
In some loose ended rebuttal format, we all might as well be simps who are unapologetically simping while attempting to manifest our emotions and sexuality in healthier ways.
Chaotically defined by her degree in literature and descent into poetry, Mansi Vijay is a student at Miranda House, New Delhi. She celebrates her politically charged F words, metro rides and spice addictions, through metaphors and in that order. As a spoken word artist she has been featured under platforms including Young Adults Literature Weekend, IHC, UNESCO, DSSW and Soulstuff. Her work has been published in columns including Speciwomen Mag, Baatein and LiveWire. She pledges her words to deconstruct the privilege of silence. You can find her on Instagram.
Featured Image Source: Popbuzz