Among the activities the so-called "alt-right" pursues with particular zeal is the cooking up of novel insults. Now the internet’s most proudly chauvinistic commenters have served up a new slur for insufficiently manly men, and it has to do with a certain staple food: “Soy boy” has come to serve as a shorthand for “feminized” men who fail to adhere to the alt-right’s notion of masculinity.
As reported by journalist Will Sommer of the Right Richter newsletter, which covers American ultraconservative trends, the phrase has risen to prominence in the dank subreddits inhabited by fans of Pepe the Frog (and now, perhaps, of Papa John’s pizza). The new term seems to be horning in on lexical territory previously occupied by other alt-right neologisms — and it speaks to some of the same concerns.
Sommer confirmed with several popular alt-right figures that the idea behind the insult is that the consumption of soy has a feminizing effect on men — presumably due to the fact that the legume’s isoflavones can mimic estrogen. (The Daily Meal has been guilty of playing up this connection in the past.)
Of course, as with nearly any food, a diet extremely high in soy can have some deleterious effects — but prevailing nutritional wisdom holds that reasonable soy consumption doesn’t significantly deplete testosterone levels or muscle strength.
Even if the basis for the concern is flimsy, in the imaginations of many among the alt-right, the Asian-native soybean has apparently come to symbolize creeping multiculturalism as well as the demise of the meat-and-potatoes man’s man. (But please don’t tell that to America’s salt-of-the-earth red-state farmers, whose productivity has made the United States the world’s leading producer of soybeans.)
If the merciless scorn of the alt-right has you ready to embrace manliness and give up your soy boy ways, consider grilling up some frog — or one of these other unconventional meats that really do taste suspiciously like chicken.