I blocked my date’s number during the Uber ride home. Deleted the Hinge app for the 100th time as well. I’ve been bamboozled, hoodwinked, duped! He called declarations of love old-fashioned, and sarcastically said “Are people really standing outside a window with a boombox in this day and age?” In the age of the cell phone and music streaming services, probably not. However, I’d sit on the lap of the simp who does and hope they’re having a great day. The discourse around dating has been a touchy subject for as long as I’ve refractorily had to engage in these conversations, and even way before then. The debates surrounding the current state of dating can be so energy-sucking to me that I tune out these talks, mute the word “dating” on all social media platforms, and avoid certain podcasts. As a person who was around for what I call the most nostalgic era of R&B, who is a lover of literature/words, and a hopelessly romantic Black woman who is well aware of how misogyny and racism already impact my dating outlook; I’m very tired of people attempting to convince Black women that we don’t deserve, or have to prove ourselves worthy of any kind of romance.
Maybe it’s because I was one of those shoujo manga-reading teenagers (like Kaho Miyasaka’s, “Kare First Love”) that I don’t understand this constant “what do you bring to the table” question from dates. I immediately X them off the list as soon as it’s posed to me. A recent conversation with a male family member also left me frustrated with the state of love. I was told that if I didn’t learn how to submit to a man, I would be alone for the rest of my life. I don’t think he knows that’s not a threat to someone who enjoys their own company. I’m hellbent on believing that the romance and love I desire are not just something that exists only in language and music. Chivalry and passion aren’t dead. They’re umbrella terms. Underneath them, wooing and courtship is what seriously needs to be resurrected.
Majoring in International Studies in undergrad introduced me to some of my favorite writers and their works from around the world. Unfortunately, these same writers and other global words of endearment I’ve picked up make it hard for my romantic heart to understand words like “simp.” It’s not a new word per se. As a matter of fact, it appeared in The New York Times as early as 1923. According to The New York Times today, the word's revamped meaning is a prime insult — a misogynist one, that implies a person is “unmanly.” The word is used to describe someone “soft” or “overly sympathetic,” particularly to women. It’s bothersome for more than one reason.
Words have been used to pursue one's heart for centuries and we know this because of the history of language and our global history of using it to capture someone’s heart. In "A Companion to African History,” Nigerian-American historian and author, Nwando Achebe, outlines in chapter 7 (Love, Courtship, and Marriage in Africa) how verbal expressions of love have been spoken throughout Africa since the beginning of time. People of eastern Nigeria and Cameroon, use the Igbo word for “love” or “to love:” ifụ ̣na anya. Literally, it translates into “To see you with my eyes.” There’s poetry that lies between the lines when we’re speaking because “to woo” is an art. When I read works like “My Lover Asks Me” by Nizar Qabbani, “The Sun Rising” By John Donne, or “My Boo” by OLU Butterfly Woods, I wonder what people are even saying to spark someone’s attention these days. You shouldn’t have to be a renowned poet to express sweet nothings to someone you’re sweet on. Just like I shouldn’t have to be a muse that inspires sonnets to deserve affirmations of love. I shouldn’t have to be Betty Crocker in the kitchen, Mary Poppins when it comes to cleaning, or Gem Jewels in the bedroom. I’m worthy of love right now, as is.
The other thing that comes with the word “simp” is the not-so-subtle, machismo-esque judgment of those who are normal, and treat the person that they like as if they actually like them. This can’t be the same generation of children who were asking “Whatcha say boo” with Jon B right? A R&B music video’s validity could be questioned if somebody, anybody, wasn’t singing in the rain and getting their outfit soaked in the name of love. It’s lyrics like those found in the late and great Jesse Powell’s 1996 hit, “You,” that celebrates surrendering all your love in a way you never thought you would, for a person you never thought you’d meet:
I surrender all my love
I never thought I could
I'm giving all my love away
And there's only one reason that I would
And baby it's you
Don’t you think someone like that deserves applause in private and in public?
I don’t want to wake up every morning and attempt to fulfill requirements of exaggerated femininity that other demographics never seem to have to consider. Racism has already embedded the idea of Black women being unlovable with undesirable features. If you’re discouraging and making fun of others for (finally) loving Black women out loud, or “simping,” I don’t think Black women will gain any incentives by dating you. I’m a college graduate who has done well in my career. I’ve lived in 3 major cities in the US and in each, I actively and happily engage with my community. I’m saying all this to say… I’m not looking for help or someone to solely serve. I don’t want to be someone’s whole world because whoever dates me next won’t be mine. I’d rather share the world I created as an individual on my own with someone who celebrates my independence with unashamed passion.
In nature, the best showman wins, and humans are a part of nature too. I try to remind myself that longing for love is a human thing to do so I don’t feel so bad after a bad date. And because it’s true! However, to be told that one doesn’t deserve, or have to prove themselves worthy of any kind of romance goes against language, R&B music, and nature. Courtship and wooing are like a dance. Before you start making outrageous demands of women you just met, while simultaneously refusing them of passion laced with effort, ask yourself if you can even do a simple 8-count. If you can, meet me on the dance floor.