It’s Raining Men

It’s common for furries to look within the community for potential long-term partners. For many people who are serious about furry, like me and presumably many of the readers of this article, a potential partner is required to be furry.

It’s logical that furries will form relationships together, because furry is about identity. If your identity as a virtual animal-person is internally important, you’re going to want to share that with your partner and express that within your relationship. I can’t think of a better example than [adjective][species]’s own Makyo, who was married last week and posted a thoroughly charming picture of him and his partner in suit.

Furry is a very social group and it’s easy to meet new people, so there are a lot of opportunities for relationships. That is, unless you are heterosexual and male.

If you’re a heterosexual male and you want to find a partner within the furry community, your odds aren’t good. The ratio of eligible men to eligible women is about 3:1. And that’s being optimistic.

Here’s how I arrived at this ratio. Anyone not interested in the maths may wish to look away now.

Firstly, some assumptions and simplifications:

    • All my data comes from the 2011 furry survey.
    • I’ve lumped the pansexuals in with the bisexuals for convenience.
    • I’ve excluded asexuals.

And the base statistics:

    • Men make up about 80% of the furry population; women 20% – this split is pretty consistent if you look at biological sex or self-reported gender.
    • The proportion of straight:bi:gay men in the furry community is 37:34:25%.
    • For women, it’s 46:41:8%

And the maths:

    • I exclude gay men and gay women.
    • I assume that bisexual men and women can end up with opposite-sex or same-sex partners based on availability. (So bisexual men end up with mostly other men, simply because there are more gay/bi men available than straight/bi women.)
    • Based on this calculation, I exclude the proportion of bisexuals who end up with same-sex partners.
    • This leaves us with just those men (straight or bisexual) who are competing for available women (straight or bisexual).

The results:

  • 46% of furries are men available for a female partner.
  • 16% of furries are women available for a male partner.

In all likelihood, this is optimistic for men seeking heterosexual relationships within furry. Women are a small minority, but they also tend to identify less strongly as furries (according to the furry survey, although this isn’t reported anywhere public). So I’m guessing that this means that furry women are less likely to look inside the community for a partner, which will further deplete the available women.

A further problem is that the furry community is not very welcoming to the small number of women that do socialize. I am aware of several occasions where women have had trouble with unwelcome attention from guys within furry. This annoyance has crossed the line into sexual harassment and sexual abuse all too regularly. Of the furry women I know, a very high proportion have suffered. I have no doubt that this is a contributing factor to the small number of furry women, and their lack of engagement with the community.

There is also a sizeable minority of gay male furries who exhibit a less aggressive antipathy towards women. Their attitude might be described as Calvinesque, as in Hobbes. While there is often a lighthearted element to an “ew girls gross” attitude, it is still unwelcoming.

This problem is not restricted to the furry community. Inherent sexism is a problem in many male-dominated geek fandoms, an issue that is starting to be addressed in some circles.

Last year, a Texan gamer group decided to ban women from attending a LAN event. The bigotry was punctuated by irony: organizers decided the event should be male-only because they were worried that women attending the event would be subject to sexist comments.

Happily, the group was widely attacked for their sexism. It’s about time that sexism within furry was addressed as well.

A quick caveat: acceptance that the furry community is inherently sexist does necessarily not imply that furries are sexist. It is a norm – there are patterns of behaviour within the group that make it unwelcoming for many furry women. As standards with the community change, furries will adjust and act accordingly.

The best, and easiest, step towards change is to start talking about how women are treated within the furry community. It’s important. More happy furry women will make the group better for everyone.

About JM

JM is a horse-of-all-trades who was introduced to furry in his native Australia by the excellent group known collectively as the Perthfurs. JM now helps run [adjective][species] from London, where he is most commonly spotted holding a pint and talking nonsense.

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25 thoughts on “It’s Raining Men

  1. An unfortunate circumstance in the end. This is especially painful for the heterosexual or bi (leaning straight) males I know, who lament that it is impossible to find a partner in the fandom.

    More worrisome is the idea of making females unwelcome in the fandom, by design or by failure to act in a fashion that is welcoming. I would hope that we could be welcoming to everyone, and I would hope that those who witness unacceptable behavior call it out, rather than simply ignore it for the sake of not rocking the boat.

    1. It’s bad for everyone, especially the women who are staying away from furry because of these problems. I think your hopes are spot on, and I do think the community is going to get better as long as some of us keep this in mind. It’s easy for people to act according to the norms of the group, and it’s often only obvious those acts are wrong once the norm has changed.

      To use an extreme example (which I will also reference in next week’s article), slavery was supported by many people when it was thought to be normal behaviour. Times have changed for the better.

  2. Again I have to question the validity of the furry surveys as a sole source of data.

    Certainly the percentage of women I know who identify with furry enough to have furry personas is significantly higher than what the surveys suggest. Not half, by any means, but at least a third. Perhaps women don’t self select for these surveys as readily? Perhaps they don’t even hear about them? These are women who produce furry art, write furry stories (not necessarily erotica in either case,) or role play in various furry contexts. Many of them do not attend conventions, however, or frequent sites such as FA or SF.

    I hasten to add that I am only counting as “female” those who I know by personal acquaintance are actually female, so I’m not being misled by those who present cross-gendered characters online.

    1. The furry survey data is far from perfect, so your point is valid. However it’s the best data available, and more comprehensive (with 2000 or so responses each year) than the personal experience of you or me.

      I like framing my pieces with statistics simply because that’s how my brain works. In this case, I don’t think it’s that important whether we have 20% women or 33% women, it’s the treatment of those women by the greater community that concerns me.

  3. Hey JM,
    The fun little statistical outlier speaking here. I would agree with the data you’ve presented here. It does seem that there aren’t many ladytypes around (checking my facebook list, there’s only 31 of them. And going even further 5 of them are already married). Things generally have been tough for me looking for a mate with the same interests. I was lucky enough to find someone with whom I could share the joys of same interest, but we had to part ways because it would be hard to maintain a relationship via long distance. So, here I am for the most part alone. Doesn’t mean that in the future there won’t be anyone.

    1. Hi Leon. Thanks for the comments.

      Next week’s article – which I wrote at the same time as this one – is for you.

  4. Definitely an interesting topic! I’d personally be interested in seeing if the impression of the fandom as an inherently overly-sexualized community (whether real, influenced, or imagined) could also serve as a force that keeps females from identifying as furries.

    By no means am I going to claim that women aren’t sexual, but there is certain masculine bravado to the way sexuality is portrayed (and sometimes accentuated) in the fandom. Even without any overt sexual harassment or abuse, erstwhile furry females may be inadvertently pushed out by the raunchier elements of the community.

    1. That’s an interesting idea, Brauson. Your comments are certainly relevant to one of the women I know who has been forced from the community. She is/was a sexual person, and this led to a significant amount of unwelcome harassment.

      I’d argue that a highly sexed community is a good one, because sex is important to identity. Sex is also a taboo topic in many corners of society at large, so in furry – where we have so many people with unusual sexual identities and interests – could/should be an environment where we can discuss sex openly and without judgment. (Easier said than done of course.)

      I think you’ve touched on an example of the inherent sexism of the community – when it comes to sexuality, we have different standards for men and women. A highly sexed furry male barely raises an eyebrow around these parts. I wonder how a furry women would be treated if she started posting sexual pics of herself on a tumblr?

      1. Actually, I disagree. I don’t think that the openess of sexuality in this fandom is a good thing. Sexuality is natural, and sex is good and fulfilling. However, many people wave their fetishes out in the open, and it’s honestly Too Much Information. I’d rather get to know someone, and then if a relationship starts, work out what they are attracted to. It’s socially impolite to run around waggling your kinks in public, or using them as the basis of your interactions in the community. Quite honestly I do not need to know if some complete stranger likes the idea of growing a hundred feet and having sex with buildings. Too much information.

        To put it differently, if you were riding a public bus and the person next to you, a complete stranger looks at you and tells you their deep sexual fantasies, it would be awkward. It’s socially isolating for furry to focus so much on sex. Why not focus on the people and the friendships this community fosters rather than the down and dirty details of people’s secret sexual fantasies? It just makes people uncomfortable. Like the saying goes, “It’s nice if you have a dick, but don’t wave it out and naked in public”.

    2. Yeah, I think part of it is just that. A large amount of the fandom is fueled by male-oriented porn. Some of it is very violent towards women or treats them as objects to be used for sexual gratification. And it’s horrendously unsettling as a woman to stumble across the darker sides of that subculture in the furry fandom. As an example, before I came to identify as a furry I ran across an “artists” FA page dedicated to art of decapitating female furries, desecrating their corpses, and raping their severed heads. As it was I ran the heck away from anything furry related for some years.

  5. This touches on a lot of key points. As a young woman in the fandom I agree with most of your points. A not so recent case I remember was a journal on a gay male group on FA that had over one hundred comments against women. Horrible things like egging each other on to go to women’s FA pages and tell them that they are diseased, or that their genitals resemble “knife wounds”. It was a terrible crude thing to read, and many women passed it amongst notes and groups, and tried to comment on the journal. It ended up that any woman who commented against the “girls are icky” had her page, notes, and sometimes email flooded with insults and degredation.

    That being said, heterosexual males in the fandom often make things worse on themselves. I’ve had men send me naked pictures of themselves, threaten me for my phone number, and sometimes harrass me only to tell me that I am a heartless bitch because they can’t help harrassing women because they have autism. All in all, for a large majority of furry women most of their first interactions in the fandom that are even remotely linked to a relationship of that sort are negative because the men are either overbearing, socially crippled, or terribly boring. It’s sad to say that some men who tell me that they are depserate for a relationship, but then cannot hold a conversation up without role playing. And for a woman this can be frustrating. So what if online you are Fox Dragon. I want to know about you, sitting at your computer, and discuss things. A lot of time I have men try to talk to me in IM, but after social niceties of how-de-dos they can’t talk about anything. No opinions, no jobs, no ambitions, no classes, just a vast typeless silence. And it’s frustrating to have someone beg you to talk to them only for them to have nothing to talk about, and it’s aggravating to support a whole conversation on one’s own. Sure, women do like to talk about our days, and our opinions, but only so much before it’s just us talking to an unresponsive brick wall.

    Women in this fandom seem to cluster together. Small number of us though there are, we find each other and make friends. And often it’s not just heterosexual men who are unhappy about not finding a partner in the fandom. It’s the same unhappiness that plagues heterosexual women who are buried neck deep in socially/emotionally/mentally disfunctional men searching for Mr. Nice and Sane.

    1. Hi Deo, thanks for taking the time to comment and share your experiences. Unfortunately I suspect that your story is a common one. I think that women tend to get treated as “female” rather than “a person” all too often within furry.

      I’m hopeful that things will change. The furry community is maturing rapidly, so hopefully we’ll see improvements in the coming years. And hopefully you’ll still be here to appreciate it.

  6. As a lesbian woman who identifies strongly as furry and would greatly desire a furry mate, my pickings are about as slim as they can get. This problem has led to me seriously considering trying my luck as the opposite of a jailhouse gay: a fandom straight! [I joke of course ;P]

    The harassment I receive both from straight men AND gay men is overwhelming, and I can see why women attracted to men would be looking outside the fandom for a mate.

    1. Hi DB. As you are undoubtedly aware, you’re quite a rare beast amongst our assorted wildlife. Thanks for commenting, it’s great to hear from a minority that is ignored all too often.

      I should point out that your situation is just as difficult as the heterosexual guys: you both suffer from a lack of women. I’d talked about this in my first draft of this article, but deleted it on the grounds that it diluted my main point. (The mathematics are also less elegant, which is important to me.)

      It’s such a pity that the furry community is so unwelcoming towards women. But I think things are getting better, and I hope they will continue to do so.

  7. As with the comment about being harassed, it’s very unfortunately true. In fact, I was actually shocked the other day when a fellow fur who was male messaged me and actually said “I see you’re already in a relationship, so don’t worry about me coming on to you.” I was mostly shocked by the fact that he actually said it, since I have encountered a lot of guys who either didn’t know or didn’t care that I’m in a monogamous relationship, and proceeded to attempt sexual roleplay with me. I was also a bit shocked that he had to say it in order to actual get me to take him seriously and sincerely, which I did. While, I’ve never actually been to a furry con, I’ve been to many, many anime conventions, which are a host to all things nerdy, and also have a lot of furries. Harassment has been a problem there in the past, but very rarely with furries, since most furries themselves are being picked on by other people for being there.

    Also, a final point: Man, it would really be unfortunate to be a lesbian furry. Your pool at this point is only a puddle.

    1. I am, sadly, not surprised in the least. The furry community has a problem and it’s not that furry is attracting sexists, it’s that furry is a fundamentally sexist environment. I’m pleased you were able to see the genuine intentions behind such a bone-headed comment, at least it means that one less woman has been scared off (so far).

      I’m also pleased to see that you and a few other women have commented on this article. My perspective is a feminist one but it’s still written from a male-centric point of view – it’s more about the travails of being a heterosexual furry male than it is about being a furry female. It’s not really ideal to be writing about women as if they were something to be observed or to provide sympathy.

      (It’s also not ideal that feminist ideas on [a][s] are coming from our all-male group of contributors. You don’t know any furry women who might like to contribute an article or three by any chance?)

      The good news for the lesbians is that they are the only ones in the running for other lesbians. This makes their odds slightly more attractive than those worldwide pariahs of mainstream society, those poor, unfortunate, put upon, heterosexual males.

  8. I’ve been open to dating in the furry fandom for years, yet EVERY male furry I come across is gay or in a relationship. I’ve since just, given up. Wonder where all these straight males are? Maybe adding a speed dating panel would help?

  9. Interesting, sad to see asexuals excluded from the data though, asexuals do form romantic and others do engage in sexual activity(asexual means not experiencing sexual attraction).

    @JM; Not true, lesbians date bisexuals and vice versa.

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