The “simping” internet fad contributes to toxic gender stereotypes

By Izze Rios

Elm Staff Writer

If you pay attention to social media, you have most likely run into the term “simp.” Before 2020, “simp” was used as a shorthand for a “simpleton,” which is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a person lacking in common sense.” Today, simp has taken on a more offensive meaning, most popularly used in reference to men. More specifically, it is used to denote men who express too much emotion, whether it be over a romantic partner or emotion over something else that they are passionate about.

Several entires to Urban Dictionary define simp as the following: “A man that puts too much value on a female for no reason,” “A square with no game other than ‘rolling out the red carpet’ for every female,” and “Someone who will say anything to please someone, particularly a girl, in the hopes that they will be in good favor with that person.” Today, the term is an acronym that stands for “suckas idolizing mediocre p*ssy.”

According to social media platforms like TikTok, a man is a simp if he acts polite to a woman — paying for a woman’s meal, complimenting a woman, or choosing to hang out with his girlfriend instead of his friends. Basic acts of politeness are turned into a means to insult and belittle.

The term simp may be funny to some. It’s often used as a quick joke, especially over social media where one’s thoughts are conveyed in short messages. Yet, the word suggests that a person’s gender still describes what one can and cannot do. This issue has been socially prominent mostly for women, but men also suffer, and they largely do so silently.

Gretchen McCulloch, linguist and author of the book “Because Internet,” which explores impacts of online language, told the New York Times that “[she] places simp in the same category of terms as ‘white knight’ and ‘whipped,’ used to degrade men who are ‘perceived as trying to curry the favor of women.’”

Surely we can all recollect a time when we have witnessed someone suppressing their emotions—or, perhaps suppressed our own emotions—due to fears of being viewed negatively in society. For instance, many men still feel unable to cry in public. This example is not uncommon; society’s dictation of emotional expression is prevalent.

The term simp reverts back to stereotypes; many men are taught from a young age that they are the dominant gender. Therefore, they need to be tough, strong, and impassive. While being strong is an objectively good quality to have, most men are taught it to a fault. This misapplied trait is visible in the inability to express emotions due to the subconscious fear of being perceived as less than.

This is also harmful to women. Simp is largely used as an insult to condemn men for showing basic politeness to women. A trend with an underlying message to treat women negatively should not be tolerated. Many women are also using the term as a joke, thus hurting their own gender.

Society should not ridicule people for expressing emotions. This degradation creates an unwillingness to express essential human emotions that are crucial for mental wellness. Instead of making jokes at their expense, we should commend people for sharing more facets of themselves. We should be approving of people who treat their relationships and passions with love and care.

While calling someone a simp may be funny for a moment, it ultimately contributes to a toxic culture. It is crucial to be aware of social media trends and their far-reaching effects on society before cultural damage occurs or is intensified.

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