Where does soyboy come from?
Soyboy joins a number of other insults associated with alt-right communities online, including snowflake and cuck, that characterize men with liberal politics as weak and oversensitive.
Boy has long been used to belittle men, but why soy? The insult is based on a claim that eating soy lowers a man's testosterone—literally making him less manly—because it contains something called phytoestrogen. For one thing, phytoestrogen is not the same as the female hormone estrogen. For another, the claim is bogus.
And, who do soyboy-slingers stereotype as eating a lot of soy? Liberal vegans who drink soy milk or eat soy products like tofu because they care about the environment or animal rights. The same sort of men, in the eyes of the so-called manosphere or alt-right communities online, who support feminism, multiculturalism, political correctness, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders—"unmanly" men, as many masculinist white nationalists began saying in 2017 on sites like 4chan and Reddit.
One early instance of soyboy appears in early 2017 on 4chan alongside cuckold, another insult favored by the alt-right. A user entered the insult on Urban Dictionary by mid-year, around the time far-right commentator James Allsup posted a YouTube video claiming politically correct people drink soy instead of real milk. Other outfits associated with alt-right posted anti-soy videos and images of men wearing 2017 Women's March "pusshyhats" alongside definitions of soyboy. By the end of 2017, hasthtag "#soyboy" was common among their ilk on Twitter, not to be confused with earlier, innocuous, and unrelated uses of soyboy (e.g., a picture of a child eating tofu).
In the alt-right, soyboy was boosted by the fact that milk has been a symbol of white supremacy reaching back into the early 1900s, based on a belief that certain successful white European peoples drink milk, taken as a sign of their superiority. Plus, the color of milk is white.
The alt-right has notably brought cartons of milk to Trump rallies, boasting "real men drink milk" or "real men eat meat." They've also taken to eating onions, apparently based on another dubious claim that onions increase sperm count which has earned them the nickname "onion lads."
Who uses soyboy?
On the internet and occasionally in everyday speech and writing (e.g., protest signs), soyboy is used by people associated with the alt-right or masculinist spaces online. The insult can target a man for having left-leaning politics. It can deride him because he's seen as weak, much like older abusive terms like fag or pussy. In some instances, people use soyboy simply to get under people's skins, true of so much internet trolling.
Hey! #soyboy it’s not my fault that the only male role model you had, was you lesbian aunt Maureen. Ok?
— I’ve had it. (@Don_Macanudo) May 27, 2018
1917 Chicago: steel and blood
2017 Chicago: corrupt soyboy pic.twitter.com/fjwj9X8Kgu
— Free Speech/Adult Website (@Spivonomist) May 26, 2017
Sometimes soy on its own is used an insult (e.g., I can smell the soy from here) or figured into other memes, like Soyboy Face or Soyjack, both using an open-mouthed smile to represent weakness
soyboy face EVERY FUCKIN TIME pic.twitter.com/OOA4xF1srb
— Jan Wambach (official) (@jwdsign) May 8, 2018
The quick rise of soyboy has been met with men who are owning the soyboy insult in an effort to diffuse its power.
I’m a soyboy and proud! 😋 https://t.co/4iewuiRtu1
— Steven Vickers 🌹🌱 (@spikeanselm) January 30, 2018
I'm gonna eat extra meat this whole week to spite you, soyboy
@HanzoS95, May, 2017
Far-right trolls call Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg a ‘soy boy’
David Gilmour, The Daily Dot (headline), February, 2018
...This guy is a mix of #SoyBoy, aggressive #BetaMale & LIAR - in other words, a #Hillary2016 employee.
@DavidVFarrell, May, 2018