Simp-le Minds: Is the term 'simp' damaging?

A discussion on how the term 'simp' stems from a harmful and misogynistic internet culture

Peter Bath
21st February 2022
Image: Pixabay
Spending too much time online can be dangerous. It can change your vocabulary, which in turn changes the way you think. Words originate in obscure, shady corners of the internet and can quickly spread ‘memetically’, infecting all online discourse and, in some cases, your every waking thought. You might start using them ironically, but it’s a slippery slope. Before you know it your worldview is shaped by words like redpilled, beta, chad, cuck… and simp. 

A ‘simp’, in the strictest sense, is someone, usually a man, who goes a little too far for their romantic interest. It’s a relatively recent term, but arguably describes an age-old attitude. After all, does a knight not ‘simp’ for his lady? Was the Immortal Bard not a ‘simp’ when he wrote his sonnets?

It is seen as degrading to be this powerless, especially for a woman of all people

In the best sense, it can be reclaimed as a positive - some people proudly admit to ‘simping’ for their partner in a perfectly healthy way. At its worst though, it’s associated with the misogynistic culture of obsession/hatred towards women at the heart of incel-dom. In this context, ‘simping’ will often be an unrequited fixation - a ‘down bad’ incel might ‘simp’ for their favourite ‘Twitch streamer’. The other side of this, of course, is the shame they simultaneously associate with the word; it is seen as degrading to be this powerless, especially for a woman of all people. And the word ‘simp’ is central to this. It frames the way one thinks about relationships. 

‘Simping’ is transactional. The ‘simp’ goes to unreasonable lengths for someone, with the expectation deep down that they deserve to have their acts reciprocated. Of course, they rarely are, and the ‘simp’ might well know this to be the case. One Urban Dictionary definition describes it as “when a male is overly submissive to a female and gains nothing from it.” The inclusion of the latter clause reveals that to “gain nothing” from any relationship with a woman is seen as an aberration, and though 'simping' may be a self-punishing denial of it, at some point the repressed feeling of being owed affection is bound to return in troubling ways.

Acting out of love means a kindness that isn’t caught up in egotism but comes from a genuine desire to make others happy. On the other hand, the ‘simp’ becomes trapped in a destructive cycle of shame, vanity, obsession and repulsion, all validated by the word ‘simp’.

Log off Reddit. Reject 'simp'.

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