The term ‘Simp’ is being used to shame men who treat women well and it needs to stop

Treating a woman well is not ‘Simp behaviour’, but misogyny sure is

A simp, by definition, is someone who does way too much for someone they like. That’s the Urban Dictionary top definition. It never specifies a gender, but everyone knows simp is used exclusively to describe men, and men’s behaviour towards women.

The term is used jokingly, sometimes to describe even the bare minimum level of respect between a man and a woman. A boy buys a girl an Uber home to make sure she’s safe? “That’s simp behaviour.” He messages her first? “He’s simping for her.” He speaks highly of his girlfriend or the woman he’s sleeping with? “He’s such a simp.” Women know that the bar for men is so low it’s literally in hell, but even now that bar is being tested and lowered by men who fear they’re going to be called out by their mates for “simp behaviour”.

The truth is that every use of simp – by men, on men – even as a joke, is laced with misogyny. Simp is 2020’s “that’s so gay”. It’s the current-day version of “don’t be a pussy”.

The problem with the term simp is that it has moved into the realms of irony. Anyone who’s reading this and prickling at my sensitivity right now, consider that even the ironic use of a word carries weight. For example, Harry – one of my male friends – said that he and his boy mates use simp exclusively “as a joke” but if you drill down into it, he knows it could be harmful.

“I have used it and I’ve been called it but only jokingly in my boys chat,” he told The Tab. “Often it’s when the boys are saying that they want to message a girl, like Ollie would say ‘I’m simping for Ella’ if he messages her first. I don’t think the term is overtly negative but it depends on your group. I’m friends with other boys who use it to outright describe a loss of masculinity – way more of an insult – but we use it more jokingly about being sweet.”

When I quizzed Harry about how even a joking use of the word simp could affect a man, and sway him away from being “sweet” to girls, he said: “I think it could. Some men can be quite closely affected by stuff like that. There’s a lot of pressure for men and they’re constantly evaluating how they come across to women – they have to act a certain way. Being called a simp might make you feel less confident in approaching women. Plus I think the word does perpetuate the stereotype that nice guys finish last. That you have to be a bit of a prick to get a woman or to approach her in the first place, and that’s not right.”

Another boy, Danny, told me his sister called him a simp when he made a long emotional Instagram post as a joke. He didn’t even understand what it meant, thinking it could mean a “soft boi” or something. And if you’re questioning the difference between soft boi and simp, know that being a soft boi was never degrading. Soft bois shagged, soft bois were woke, soft bois were cool. But no part of being simp is aspirational, it’s one hundred per cent demeaning.

So demeaning that it causes men to change their behaviour entirely. Just ten days ago a 19-year-old girl posted on the r/relationships.txt thread on Reddit complaining that her boyfriend won’t hold her hand or be affectionate with her in public because his friends make fun of other boys doing that and call them simps. Her boyfriend is so scared of being a simp that he’s actively hurting his girlfriend’s feelings to avoid it. He’s 21. This word has an effect.

Laurie, another male friend, agrees. He said: “I’m really glad it wasn’t around when we were younger, if it had it been around then I reckon we would have terrorised each other.”

But just because Laurie isn’t in school right now – doesn’t mean other boys aren’t. Teenage boys have TikTok, they know what simp means. We need to stop using simp as an insult to men treating women well, because it’s going to start shaping young men, and it’s already shaping adult men. The boyfriend in that Reddit post was 21, not 12.

I’m not declaring war on the word simp, I’m not saying it should be banned. I’m calling time on it being used to aid misogyny. If a man buys his girlfriend a car after two weeks of dating, sure – he’s a simp. If he comments a thousand love heart emojis on every single one of her Instagram posts? He can be a simp then. If he calls her honey bunny and means it, he’s a simp. That’s because this behaviour is cringe, over the top and uncommon. Discouraging it won’t do any harm. For this kind of behaviour, simp can be the male equivalent to calling a woman psycho – because God knows we need one.

But for base level, treating-women-with-kindness behaviour, simp should not be used. I don’t need to tell you that men are easily affected by man-on-man teasing. I don’t need to tell you that men don’t need any more excuses to treat women badly, society has given them enough already. So stop using simp and giving them more misogynist avenues to explore. Praise men who take care of women. Praise men who respect and raise up women. Praise men who approach women first in a healthy way. He’s not simping for anyone, he’s just a better person than you, and he’s probably got better game too.

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