An image for an article about simp culture. Illustrated by Adam Lee.

How the Term ‘Simp’ Reinforces Toxic Masculinity and Objectifies Women

This slang term criticizes men who are nice to their partners instead of being more 'dominant.' It needs to stop for the sake of healthy relationships.
October 11, 2020
6 mins read

One day, a man walked into my friends’ house because they foolishly left the door unlocked. He announced himself as their neighbor and pressured them to take a shot with him. They asked him to leave because there is a pandemic and he was an absolute stranger. As he exited, he shouted at the group of college guys standing incredulously in their living room, “You’re a bunch of simps!” in a last-ditch effort to bruise their masculinity.

Dictionary.com defines simp 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.”

This translates into popular culture as an insult to men who demonstrate kindness and respect toward women. If you buy a girl flowers out of the blue, you’re a simp. If you take a girl out to a nice dinner just because you felt like it, you’re a simp.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a simp! Being nice to someone you like shouldn’t be a cause for insult or denigration. Quite the opposite, really. It’s admirable to show kindness to others, especially those you like or have a fondness for.

This term also plays into toxic masculinity, which was behind the insult hurled at my friends. It slights the masculinity of men who are kind to women or perform romantic acts of service for women. The Dictionary.com definition specifically uses the word “submissive,” saying that simps are overly subservient to the women they desire. This idea reinforces the toxic idea that men should be dominant in romantic relationships — that there is some twisted power dynamic in heterosexual romances in which the man must remain in a position of power over the woman.

No one needs power in relationships. The basic tenets of healthy relationships are honesty, communication and respect. Labeling men as simps for practicing these tenets is damaging to men’s formation of positive connections with women.

The word simp also drips with entitlement. It seems that the progenitors of the term believe that if you are nice to a girl you like, she must date or have sex with you.

Zachary Zane wrote in Men’s Health, “Take the example above, when a dude says, ‘You’re a simp if you play her favorite song at her birthday but she doesn’t date you.’ Like what? Is that the bar? A woman has to date you if you play her favorite song? Of course not. And if you want a woman to date you, it is good to be nice.”

You are obviously not a simp if you play a song for a girl and she doesn’t date you. Women do not owe you dates, sex or attention regardless of what actions you take. It also doesn’t make you a simp to pursue a girl and for her to turn you down. Sometimes things don’t work out, and that’s okay.

This term relates to the word “incel,” which the Cambridge Dictionary defines as “a member of a group of people on the internet who are unable to find sexual partners despite wanting them, and who express hate towards people whom they blame for this.” Incel is short for “involuntarily celibate.”

Incels often express hatred toward women due to their lack of sexual partners. Incels blame women as a whole for their struggle to end their celibacy, even though it’s clearly ridiculous to put the blame on an entire gender for your inability to seduce someone. People who cling to the label simp also demonize women, but in a less obvious way.

The concept of simping portrays women as manipulative, using men to do nice things for them by dangling sex or a relationship like a carrot. That’s a biased and unfair characterization of an entire gender and incredibly sexist.

It also objectifies women. It treats women like a machine; put enough quarters in, get a prize. Relationships are not transactional. You can’t go through the motions and automatically get a relationship or a sexual encounter at the end. Relationships are about chemistry and connection. If one party doesn’t feel it, then it’s dead in the water.

The word “simp” is unfair to both men and women. It forces men into the box of toxic masculinity and insults them for being courteous while also objectifying women and treating them as cold and calculating. We must purge this term from our collective vocabulary.

Please, don’t be scared of being called a simp. If you like a girl, show her. If she rejects you, dust yourself off and move on. Life’s too short to sit around and worry others will insult you for being a nice person.

Emily Jewett, University of San Diego

Writer Profile

Emily Jewett

University of San Diego
English, concentration in Creative Writing, minor in Political Science

I’m a senior at USD studying English, creative writing and political science. In my free time, I love to read, write and watch an excessive amount of TikTok.

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