[This article was first published in 2018]
In 2018, Republican Ted Cruz told a rally in Texas that Democrat voters wanted to “turn the state blue” and “be just like California, right down to tofu and silicon and dyed hair.”
This was not the first time, nor was it the last, that vegan and plant-based foods have been used as a term of mockery for people on the left. In recent years the term “soy boy” has become more widely used online to describe people seen as “snowflakes” or as weak and feminine.
There is some reported connection between this and the idea that soy products increase men’s oestrogen levels (this has not been scientifically proven), and of course the fact that soy is a meat alternative, and as we all know, real men eat meat.
According to Urban Dictionary, the term soy boy means: “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.
“The average soy boy is a feminist, nonathletic, has never been in a fight, will probably marry the first girl that has sex with him, and likely reduces all his arguments to labeling the opposition as ‘Nazis’.”
The term has largely taken the place of the word “cuck”, which has for a while been the insult of choice of many far right people - it’s short for “cuckold” and is used to imply that a man’s wife or girlfriend is cheating on him with a more masculine male.
For the men who use terms like cuck and soy boy, being called anything related to femininity is the ultimate insult.
The term has become increasingly popular on Twitter, Reddit and YouTube comments, with trolls regularly criticising others they deem to be weak as "soy boys".
Where soy boy originated from, however, is unclear. The Daily Dot suggests that it could have been started by Mike Cernovich, a far right social media personality, who’s been using the term to insult people on Twitter for months.
According to Know Your Meme, the first use of “soy boy” appeared on 4Chan.
But YouTube political commentator James Allsup, who was caught protesting with white supremacists in Charlottesville, has claimed he invented the insult.
Outside far right communities, there isn’t much awareness of the term. But if soy boy goes the way of cuck, it could enter the mainstream before too long.
But cuck was ultimately commandeered by the general public and used as an insult against the far right, removing its offensiveness. Whether the same will happen to soy boy remains to be seen.