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Katherine McCabe / Gavel Media

How the Term “Simp” Exacerbates Toxic Masculinity

“He’s such a simp.” 

An increasingly popular phrase in our media, especially among Gen-Z, a simp can be defined as “someone who will do nice things for his crush in order to win her affection”. Another definition is “A simpleton putting his all to being a hopeless romantic. He acts like a chivalrous white knight. He protects and likely gives EXTREME donations to his woman.”

In today’s vernacular, simp has a negative connotation. If a male treats a woman—whether they are in a relationship or not—with respect and shows her admiration, that action is automatically considered degrading for the male. Simply, the word “simp” is a sexist one that is offensive and encourages toxic masculinity. 

Men often use the term simp to describe another man in an insulting manner,  which exacerbates the growing issue of toxic masculinity. Generally, toxic masculinity is a term that highlights the stigmatization of men who show emotions, and being a simp consists of showing emotions towards a woman. Toxic masculinity originated from the mythopeoetic men’s movement in the 1980s’ and 90s’ in relation to the second wave of feminism. It has grown to a term to describe how gender norms are not only harmful for women but also men.

The history of the word “simp” is over one hundred years old, with its first usage in the New York Times using the term in 1923 as simpleton. Simp is a shortened version of the word simpleton, which can be described as “a person lacking in common sense.” However, the societal definition of the term has transformed since then due to the usage of the word in hip-hop music. 

The term was used in Too Short’s song “Pimpology” in 1985 in which it had the same meaning as it does today. The term started to grow in popularity as more and more rappers began using the term in their music. 

TikTok has allowed the toxic word to enter back into our everyday language as the hashtag #SimpNation has 535.2 million views and counting. The first wave of “Simp Nation” was started by men, and the context was hyper-masculine and reinforced normative gender roles. Some examples of what constitutes as a simp, according to the phrase “Simp Nation” on TikTok, are “If she keeps calling herself ugly for compliments and you give them without hesitation,” and “If you ever did a girl’s homework because she didn’t have time to do it.”

There has been a newer wave of the usage that is driven by females praising their significant others for being “simps.” Doing so helps reverse the alpha male culture that is fostered by TikTok and “Simp Nation.” Fortunately, the term has also grown in ambiguity regarding its usage as more and more people are starting to use it regarding things they are a fan of or something they really enjoy, like Chipotle bowls or a favorite actor. 

While this expansion of the definition of simp eradicates some of the misogyny behind the word, many—specifically those in Gen Z—still use the term as a joke despite the toxic effects it creates. When being used to describe men who show affection, it can be used as a derogatory term that encourages jokes that disrespect women. This therefore creates an even bigger gender division due to these societal gender norms. This culture can oblige men to act more masculine, and they are considered weak if they don’t. Men should not be ridiculed for treating someone else with the simple respect that they deserve. 

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