Episode 100: "Why is 'simping' a harmful term?"Support the show
On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about the toxic message behind the word “simp.”
This is Jessica Skultety, Outreach and Prevention Manager at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic and sexual violence response organization, providing services to survivors at no charge for over 40 years.
J: Today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, Why is ‘simping’ a harmful term?” And today we’re joined again by Safe+Sound Somerset college volunteer, Ella Blank, who goes to the University of Maryland.
E: Hi everyone! So, what is “simping” – just so we’re all on the same page? “Simping” is a term that calls people weak and/or foolish when they display signs of kindness or respect. Online, many people use it to joke about a man acting this way with a woman he likes or is in a relationship with.
J: Yeah. It’s frustrating to hear this as a joke because it has damaging effects on both women and men, and anyone of any gender using this term. It creates a stigma around treating others, and especially women with respect. When people say something is “just a joke,” are often ignoring the impact that it has.
E: Some of the most basic acts of care or love for another person are now made to be somehow wrong. And there are a lot of examples, but here are just a few. If they buy her flowers – you will get called a simp. They say, “You look beautiful today” – simp. Maybe they stand up for the woman, by saying, “Don’t say those things about her – it’s disrespectful” – they would be considered a simp.
J: Yeah. Using the word “simp” supports toxic masculinity. By this, I’m not saying that masculinity itself is toxic – it’s okay to be masculine! - but that part of what society expects from men, IS toxic. Men are often taught to hold in their feelings, never cry, and be dominant, aggressive, and unfeeling. And calling someone a simp reinforces this. To me, it actively discourages men to be kind, show affection, or be respectful towards women for fear of being looked down upon or made fun of.
E: This word definitely promotes the idea that being rude and mean makes someone attractive and is normal male behavior – which it definitely isn’t. The word “simp” can also communicate that sexualizing and degrading women are signs of masculinity and strength, and this view can even encourage abuse. The language we use matters. And the more people, especially with younger generations, continue to use this word, it will only continue to influence the way men act towards others.
J: Treating any human being with kindness should never be seen as a weakness, nor should men ever feel like their kindness is emasculating. Sure, people find jokes funny, but how is that joke affecting our culture? Right? It’s up to us to call out harmful behavior and try to change the conversation.
To speak with an expert about dating or sexual violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning.
Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.