Being called a “simp” isn’t quite as embarrassing as it once was. Particularly on TikTok, where the word has been rebranded from misogynistic insult to cutesy pet name, there’s actually something sweet about it. Nevertheless, in some circles, a hint of shame has remained. Like having a crush, there’s still a sense of embarrassment to it all — to “simp” for someone is to succumb to the “weakness” of one’s feelings over logic. Perhaps for this reason, “simp” has become co-opted by self-identified “beta” men, eager for new diminutives to describe their pathetic state.
As I previously reported, the word “simp” originally cropped up as an acronym for “someone/sucka idolizing mediocre pussy,” in 1990s hip hop before being later popularized by Three 6 Mafia. In 2019, it began resurfacing on TikTok, relying upon the similarly misogynistic belief that a woman’s value was dictated by her vagina. Soon thereafter, “simp” became a catch-all term to describe admiring someone, or developing feelings for them. Rather than an insult, it became a badge of honor for a woman to have men “simp” for her.
On r/CensoredForBetas, a subreddit devoted to censored photos of women under the premise that beta men don’t deserve to see nude or erotic photos, the word simp makes a frequent appearance. It’s built into the language through which beta men describe themselves, as well as the language they imagine is used to describe them. One might edit a photo of a woman so that the word blocks the viewer from seeing her face, or include it in the caption of a pixelated image. And like on TikTok, dominant women on the subreddit often refer to their fans as simps or their behavior as simping. “Say thank you with your wallet, little virgin boy,” a caption on a censored photo of a woman’s torso reads. “You’re lucky you get to even simp for my pixels.”
Here, the taunting nature of its use represents a shift from its contemporary application as a pet name on TikTok, making it kinky rather than cute. “I find the use of the word ‘simp’ to basically fill the same role as ‘beta,’” says Alex, a 30-year-old self-anointed beta from Canada. “Both imply a sort of emasculation and sexual weakness that’s very exciting when [I’m] in a submissive mood. Whether a woman calls me simp or beta, the implication is that I’m unworthy of (but pathetically obsessed with) female attention, which makes me a weak and submissive man. That unworthiness is key to the humiliation and degradation that I love about identifying as a beta, as well as femdom in general.”
But as Alex explains, context is everything. “Like beta, simp is associated with a misogynistic view of the relationship between men and women, and if someone uses either unironically outside of a fetish context, they’re probably an asshole,” he continues.
Other betas agree, pointing to simp’s mainstream popularity as the impetus for its use in fetish communities, but still insisting the meanings are different. “Simp got brought into general beta/humiliation culture entirely because it became a popular way of insulting someone, implying that they were worth less for idolizing a girl,” says Izzy, a 24-year-old beta from the East Coast. “Obviously, for anyone who happens to like being put down, it fits right in with the fetish, and it’s basically a less fetish-y way to be called a beta. I’m not huge on the word itself, since there’s a lot of negative connotations to it — it dehumanizes girls and is used to put guys down at the same time — but for fetish use, I think it’s alright.”
For others, simp is part of their discourse, but they don’t feel as attached to it as they do the word beta. “I feel like the word simp would accurately describe me,” says Mike, another 24-year-old beta. “The part I don’t like is the negative connotation. I feel lucky to get to worship and pay beautiful women. That’s why I prefer the use of beta. It feels more like an appropriate title instead of an insult.”
That said, many of the people involved in the censored beta community that I spoke to weren’t aware of the term’s original meaning, or at least see its current use as entirely detached from its previous connotation. “I know it might not be the correct origin of the word, but I like to think of it as a shortened version of ‘simple,’” says Josh, a 26-year-old beta in New York. “Simps are simpleminded people whose only thoughts are directed toward beautiful women and their assets — they’re so focused on a particular woman that their mind just goes numb and they do whatever she wants. Just a one-track kind of mind, focused on giving attention to a woman.”
In that sense, the adoption of “simp” among betas is much like their adoption of “beta,” too. Both were originally spawned by men who wanted a term to identify precisely the kind of male they didn’t want to be. But now, both have become part of the mainstream discourse in a way that’s almost de-weaponized them — to call someone a beta male now, outside of a fetish context, is usually only done for the purpose of a joke. But within those fetish contexts like r/CensoredForBetas, a sense of that original subordination and humiliation remains. Like being a beta male, being a simp is embarrassing. And for the men who align with the terms, that’s exactly what’s hot about it.