As far as insults go, social media has become the absolute king for creating and promoting a rapid fire of unique and trendy personal attacks. Spend even a modest amount of time in any comment section and you will be exposed to popular hits such as Snowflake, Karen, Sheeple and, one that I’ve found intriguing, Soy Boy. It has it all. It rhymes, it’s short, it’s obviously an insult and it’s used with such conviction that the person on the receiving end tends to avoid challenging the phrase because they don’t want to seem out of the loop. Of course it’s no fun to walk away from Soy Boy without dissecting it to find out what makes it tick.
The origin of Soy Boy is unclear. It has been somewhat common since at least 2017 and likely had been used in select circles before that year. It is meant to implicate a man as being a weak representation of masculinity. Every article I’ve read into this subject references the Urban Dictionary so I’ll keep that tradition going. According to the Urban Dictionary, Soy Boy is: “Slang used to describe males who completely and utterly lack all necessary masculine qualities. This pathetic state is usually achieved by an over-indulgence of emasculating products and/or ideologies”. It’s the contrast to the Alpha Male. So, a Soy Boy is a Beta Male? Yes and no. It goes a bit deeper than that.
Someone earns the moniker of Soy Boy by checking a variety of different boxes. If you are small in stature you may be a Soy Boy. If you do not lift weights, you may be a Soy Boy. If your job does not involve physical labour, you may be a Soy Boy. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan you may be a Soy Boy. If you support women’s equality, you might be a Soy Boy. I did state that this term has a deeper meaning. Yes it is a Dog Whistle term but I will admit it doesn’t really go very deep. It is interesting, stay with me.
Soy Boy presents it’s key assumption in the first word, Soy. There is a popular theory among those that use the phrase that consuming soy in any form increases estrogen levels in men. The science behind this idea is pretty fuzzy but of course it doesn’t need to be supported by science to work as an insult, those that use it simply need to know that the theory is out there. Based on this assumption, Soy Boy takes on the concept that a man that consumes soy products has higher than typical estrogen levels and therefore said person is less of a man, closer to being a woman because… estrogen. It works as an insult based on the idea that women are inferior and being an Alpha Male is a superior state of being. Simply, Soy Boy is an insult based on misogyny. But wait, there’s more.
This insult more overtly implicates the subject with being a vegetarian. The person providing the insult poises themselves as a meat eater and therefore more manly than a person that doesn’t eat animals. I can’t help but envision Gaston from Beauty and the Beast when considering this argument. The person using this insult imagining themselves strutting through the center of town being adored by all of the women for his manly skills, his muscular frame, wishing to be taken by this specimen that exudes masculinity. It is essentially a fantasy being used in place of an attempt to engage in critical conversation.
So why is this a dog whistle? As dog whistles go it is not a very concerning one. For the most part it is meant as an inside joke of an insult. Those that use it don’t generally intend for it to be understood by the general public, though others that are in on “the lingo” will often join in on attacking the victim’s masculinity. The intention of the term does go beyond simply insulting someone’s maleness and often used within far right held beliefs of misogyny, racism and intolerance towards non Christian religions. It will often be used to describe someone that is actively advocating for some form of equality. Unlike other terms that I will be covering with my blog, this one holds very little deep and dark connotations beyond the typical intolerance one may encounter in social media. Though generally used by people that hold some concerning opinions about society, the term itself is easily dismissed as a sexist term. It is useful, however in gauging how a conversation may go with someone that uses the term Soy Boy. You may find that there are some darker beliefs that will be expressed if you continue to engage with a person that uses this term.