To Simp or not to Simp: That is the Question


Courtesy of Pikrepro

Over the past year, a new term has circulated through the Friends Select community: “simping.” A “simp” is defined by the New York Times as “a person, often a man, who unsuccessfully throws money or attention at someone else, often a woman, in order to win their affection.” This controversial word has different meanings to different students at Friends Select.

Sofia Solari-Parravicini ‘23 defines the term as “as a negative [phrase] to describe someone who is overly or weirdly affectionate to a girl.” Rosie Taranta ‘23 agrees, adding it is used when a guy is “too nice” or polite.

Conversely, Joana Santos ‘24 has a favorable view of the word. “Simp has a positive tone. I think it is when guys can respect someone’s decisions,” she said. From her perspective, people label “nerds” or overly affectionate boys as “simps,” whereas guys “who don’t respect people’s choices or people’s bodies” are labeled “f*** guys.” Joana also notes that the word has emerged recently “mostly because of TikTok. Most people find it funny, it makes people laugh.”

“Simp” is widely viewed as a misogynistic insult, intended to attack a man’s masculinity by undermining his independence and dignity. Gigi Sovinski ‘23 takes issue with the word, noting, “there is no such thing as being too nice to a woman, or really to anyone. It’s just respect. Respecting anyone shouldn’t be a cringey thing.” 

Henry Planet ‘23 believes that “there is a literal definition and [another] definition that people have come to use on the internet.” While the literal definition refers to treating one woman with excessive kindness, the alternative definition accuses men of facetiously showing interest in women in order to generate romantic relationships. When Henry told a friend that he intended to join Feminism Club, they responded: “that is such a simp thing to do.” Henry thinks that the word “simp” is designed to make men think that showing respect for women is a sign of weakness.

Henry has famously embraced the title “king of simps,” stemming from a practical joke created at his old school. However, at Friends Select, he has a challenger to his throne. Chris Crisden ‘22 has named himself the “simp king” in a similar attempt to construe a more positive meaning of the word. Chris took on the name to combat the associated misogyny, which he became aware of through social media. Both wear their titles as a form of “silent protest,” as Henry puts it.

In Henry’s eyes, all-male friend groups enable “toxic masculinity to manifest very nefariously… and it can look like a joke,” leading others to normalize misogynist comments rather than view them as vulnerable cries for support. “Men are often encouraged to hide their struggles, so we have this perspective that men are not as vulnerable. But I think we are, really,” says Henry.

Rosie, Sofia, and Gigi also sense that cultural toxic masculinity has driven the word’s popularity. “A lot of younger teens are in a space where it is cooler to be disrespectful than it is to be respectful towards people,” said Sofia.

“I think that there are some guys who don’t really care [about public judgement] and treat girls right, but I think there are some guys that let their friends pressure them and call them names,” Rosie said of her classmates at Friends Select.

As an adult in the community, English teacher Miriam Rock is concerned with the way students use the word, saying: “my understanding is that people who call people simps are sexist because they try to categorize people based on the way they treat women. Why would you judge someone for the way they treat women differently from the way they treat men?” In her eyes, the popularity of the word “simp” is a troubling reflection of the way some young men view women. “There’s some implied criticism of a man undermining his masculinity for the way he treats women,” she said.

Miriam is unsure whether teachers can combat this phenomenon. “I don’t know if there’s much adults can do. Part of my understanding is that this comes from some really messed up video game culture and peer interactions,” she said. If there is a solution, Miriam does not think she will be part of the equation. “There are opportunities for male teachers to engage with male students about developing healthy masculinity. I’m not sure, though, if the male teachers want to have those types of conversations and gendered mentorship with students,” she said.

“Simp,” while often wrongfully used as a joke, gives the community an insight into underlying misogynistic tones of social interactions, particularly seen among teenagers and amplified due to the use of social media.