My North Dakota friend, Craig shared an article about a new, supposedly religious group that hates feminists. I had been sipping a soy latte when I opened the rest of Craig’s email. Apparently, the group not only hates feminists but also targets “soy boys”. I glanced at my latte and wondered if I qualify as a soy boy because I consume a lot of soy-based foods.
I entered the term into the “Urban Dictionary” search box. The results were quite crude and hateful. In polite terms, “soy boy” is a derogatory slang term for a left-leaning male who lacks macho personality. Many people who use “soy boy” as an insult negatively categorize such men as Omega males–the polar opposite of Alpha males. The “soy boy” categorization is quite twisted and toxic.
Equating “soy boy” with Omega males seems totally misguided. My understanding of the Omega male personality trait is of a totally capable, confident man who does not abide by conventional ranking nor seek approval. An Omega male defines his own success, and sets his own goals. Although I’m skeptical of the whole Alpha, Beta, and Omega system of ranking people, I must admit that the Omega category looks like something to emulate, not condemn.
As I think more about the group (which I will not glorify by mentioning their name), it seems that their ideology reflects the views of people wearing too much emotional armor. The culture of parading in public wearing combat gear and displaying machine guns does not appeal to me at all. Radical, militant politics of any variety completely turns me off. It seems that members of this particular group wear physical armor as an extreme manifestation of their emotional armor.
I took another sip of soy latte and pondered the concept of emotional armor. Groups such as the self-described religious “soy boy and feminist haters” would undoubtedly pigeonhole me as a “soy boy”. There is a certain androgynous spark to my personality and I’ve been a lefty most of my life. Being LGBT would seal the deal.
Even though I might fit the group’s definition of a “soy boy”, I do wear some emotional armor. A healthy amount of armor is critical in forming and maintaining personal boundaries. To function effectively in society, healthy personal boundaries are a must. However, over-doing personal armory crosses the line by justifying anti-social attitudes and behavior. Using my armchair analytical methods, it seems that people who overdo the armor in extreme ways can become dangerous to society. In my view, the over-use of armor blocks empathy and energizes bullying attitudes.
Another form of emotional armor that many of us wear is adopting the overly busy lifestyle. I’ve been guilty of such behavior because it is a convenient way to numb out. Overly busy folks use overwork as an escape. It’s a socially acceptable lifestyle because productivity is its apparent goal. However, the truth is that we use “crazy-busy” to mask our inner feelings in order to fit in with society. This emotional armor can be removed by chilling out and doing something fun.
Humor can be and is often used as emotional armor, too. Some professional comedians privately say they feel trapped in their humorous societal role. They are expected to always generate laughter and humor. Sometimes the joking around is a way to mask their inner turmoil and sadness. An extreme example of this was Robin Williams’ tragically complex emotional life.
In balance, it seems that we don emotional armor against the negativity and bad stuff that happens in the world. Too much armor only weighs us down with a false sense of protection, our own negativity, and emotional isolation. In my opinion, too much armor hinders freedom. Meantime, I reserve the right to enjoy the freedom to consume soy-based food products and sometimes wear my feelings on my sleeve. If that makes me a “soy boy”–so be it.