If you too spend excessive time on social media like I do, I’m sure I don’t have to explain or define what a simp is or what simping for someone means. But for the normies out there, I shall Gen Z-splain ‘simping‘, the almost obsessive culture of putting people and fictional characters, mostly men, on a pedestal for displaying bare minimum decency to other fellow human beings.
Think of every cis-het woman’s popular choice -Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, who may not be good looking but is a decent human being, who pays his employees, treats them well, is willing to listen to others and especially Elizabeth, who is the most confused woman in the early 1800s! In the western pop culture bubble, many Hollywood celebrities such as all the men who feature on People Magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ covers are considered simp because of their benevolence and philanthropy.
Yes, the bar is very low.
Interestingly, the word ‘simp’ has had many definitions over the years, adopted by different generations for different purposes. The word first appeared in the New York Times in 1923 referring to a ‘simpleton’, simp being the shortened version of the word. This definition made it to the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English in 1946, a pretty harmless usage and probably the most logical one.
Then, it was largely forgotten only to reappear in the 1980s and 1990s when the ‘manliest of the manly‘ men started using the word to describe another man who is not manly enough. The word ‘simp’ started being used as an insult and insinuated that the man was ‘overly sensitive and sympathetic,’ mainly towards women.
The word was brought into mainstream usage by popular American rappers Hugh-E. M. C., Too Short, E-40 and of course, Drake, where they used the word ‘simp’ in opposition to the word ‘pimp’ to keep the rap rhythm and rhyme, subsequently also giving simp a negative meaning.
In 2005, simp found its way to everyone’s favourite internet source (no, not Wikipedia), Urban Dictionary which defines it as “a slang insult 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.” Unsurprisingly, the Men’s Rights Movement picked up this stray, simple word and used it for men who called themselves feminists, unironically, of course.
For years, simp has had a sporadic usage, not really assimilating into our daily language as it has today. Cut to 2019, when Tiktok became the only form of content consumption, simp was reintroduced and redefined as a word most frequently used for boys and men who are not bratty, who don’t mansplain, and in other words, are just your ordinary, unsuspecting, decent human beings.
They share a dynamic of equality with their cis-het female partners and actually make efforts to sustain the relationship. One might think, a simp doesn’t even have to be a feminist to qualify because the basic requirement is just self-sufficiency and not depending on male privilege given by patriarchy. But, definitely, extra simp points for a feminist boy.
A lot of men simp for strong, ambitious career women but that is a story for another day. While women are celebrating this sexist glorification, one does begin to wonder, “does simp culture actually help feminists dismantle patriarchy?” The answer is an easy “Yes”!
Sensitive menfolk are a threat to the patriarchal order of affairs as there is a huge emphasis on boys and men performing their masculine selves – the unemotional, breadwinning head of the family. In contrast to how a ‘normal’ man is expected to be under the patriarchal setup, our beloved simps are not afraid to cut a few onions, or shed a few tears, or both, simultaneously. In fact, they are afraid to tell their cis-het partners how to dress or how to be, because they know it is none of their business.
Dismantling patriarchy also entails empowering suppressed genders – women, non-binary and trans people and everyone in the spectrum, who are conditioned to be the lesser beings next to men. Conditioning coerces these individuals to be subservient to men as men hold the power of decision making in the patriarchal society. When the same men, under patriarchy, dream and put ambitious, assertive and unapologetic women, non-binary and trans people on a pedestal, they indirectly challenge social power structures.
As we have established, a simp is an enemy to patriarchy and we also know that feminism is an enemy to patriarchy. Going by the impeccable logic imparted by Kautilya in one of the most important ancient Indian books documenting statecraft and politics- the Arthasashtra, “An enemy’s enemy is a friend…”, it shouldn’t be difficult for an army of feminists and simp boys/men to unite and overthrow the ridiculous patriarchal social norms we have to follow in our society.
The future is simp.
Also read: Bollywood’s Tryst With Toxic Masculinity
Featured Image Source: Film Daily