Furries Are Awesome

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the dearth of articles, recently. It really weighs on me, and I feel that I’ve been neglecting one of my favorite things ever: writing too-long articles about animal people.  Not all of my time was just sitting, twiddling my thumbs, though.  I did wind up with a cool new job, and that panel for RMFC took up quite a bit of my time, actually.  Most of what has been going on, though, at least in my spare time over the last few weeks, has been dealing with a few health problems that had me a little down.

My general solution to the anxiety and emotional weirdness involved with those sorts of things, when they get bad, is to seek out as many positive (pawsitive, if you will) things.  The usual method is to ask on Twitter “what’s awesome right now?”  I love getting the responses, hearing what people think is neat and cool, hearing all the wonderful things that are happening to people.  “Exciting new development at work for me!”  “Free bagels.”  “My coffee.”  As I poke my way through the replies, though, favoriting most of them, I notice that just about every icon has a muzzle and ears.  So you know what’s totally awesome to me? Furries.

A lot of what this site focuses on is not really all that negative.  Zik is exploring the world of furry, JM is peeking into specific aspects of our subculture, and Klisoura is being wonderful by pulling specific data for us. (Kyell is automatically awesome, because fox; and guest authors get a free in, here.)  However, the topics tend to be obviously interesting, and I’ve noticed that we do tend to approach issues from both sides, even if we wind up more firmly on one side than the other.  JM’s articles on Zoophilia and cub porn both take this tack: they start with an  exposition of both sides, even though they tend to come down on the positive side.  It’s definitely a successful method, and it seems that a lot of our readership does appreciate the more exploratory style articles.

I’m going to take a step back, though, and just spend a few words on some blatant positivity.  I really like furries.  I really like  being a furry.  I think we are, all around, a great group of people focused on a few great core ideas, but with plenty of diversity thrown in to make sure that we lead interesting lives.  We are awesome.

There’s a rhetorical technique known as hendiatris, which is one of those things which you will spot everywhere once you know about it.  It means making one point through three statements.  I know that it figures prominently in my own writing, but I see it everywhere.  Especially in this most political of (US) seasons, the hendiatris makes a comeback.  I’m going to use that here, and the reason I’m even bothering to preface that is that I want to note that I try to fit all of my articles into three categories: participation mystique (how we base a portion of our identity off our membership with the fandom), character versus self (the concept of creating and interacting via an avatar), and interaction (what we gain by being a subculture, rather than being solipsistic).

Participation Mystique

Participation mystique is basing a portion of your identity off of membership to a group or participation in some sort of idea.  I’ve written about it before, but it’s worth bringing up again specifically for the benefits that it offers within the furry community.  The idea that we can structure a portion of what we consider ourselves around our membership to this sometimes quite odd subculture is quite impressive.  I know that, for myself. I feel that I would be a less complete individual without the fandom.

That’s part of the issue with anything that uses the words identity, though.  By their very nature, they are things that, without which, we would find it nearly impossible to picture ourselves.  If I try to picture myself without furry, for instance, I come up with a blank for several parts of my day – checking Twitter, relaxing online with friends during some downtime, planning for a convention panel, or even right now, sitting and writing a meta-furry article for a blog with a giant wolf on the banner.  Without furry, would I substitute that portion of my identity with something else?  Would I have taken part in some other participation mystique that would have filled out the same spaces in the topology of my soul?  I’m sure it’s possible.  There are a lot of things that I’m interested in besides furry, to be truthful.  Would I be the same person, though?  Of course not.

There are, as someone mentioned to me on Twitter, inherent ties between the fandom and identity.  It’s not just that I am experiencing this sort of participation mystique, many of us are.  There is a certain sort of subconscious, unvoiced togetherness that we gain from sharing this mystical participation, this joining of ourselves with a group.  It sounds a little cultish, when I write it out like that, but I do think it’s true.  I’ve noticed that, if you run into a furry that you have never met before, there’s always at least one thing you can talk about: the ways in which you base a portion of your Self on your being a part of this larger group of animal people.

Character Versus Self

Character versus self is another theme that I’ve written on before.  There are several ways in which we interact with the world around us, and one of the most important for us within the fandom is through our own characters, those avatars which stand for the core of our being tied with our interest in anthropomorphics, as well as our identity in the fandom.  It came up during the RMFC panel that many furries can even have several different characters, as opposed to just one avatar that they keep.  That we can hold that in our minds, that we can wear a mask to fit our moods and our desires, to be the type of individual we want to be, that is quite amazing, I think.

To paraphrase a friend, we put so much work and creativity into creating something that represents our most intimate of aspects, and then we wear it openly, making that the type of person with whom others should interact.  You all know that I write and care about gender and all of the complexities involved with it (I can think of at least two articles that have surrounded it that I’ve written, after all), and I think that this idea of taking a personal aspect, much more personal than might be normally shared outside of the fandom, and making it a core part of the character that we create is definitely useful.  Gender can often be one of those things, where one can play a character of whatever biological sex, or even gender identity, that they want here in the fandom, and have it be just fine.

Another example, and a good way to tie into the next section, is the ways in which we benefit from having an avatar through which we interact.  There are, of course, varying degrees of introvert and extrovert, and beyond that, varying degrees of social anxiety.  These are things that just about everyone experiences, even if it’s on the extreme far end. I can say for myself that, although I like to think of myself as reasonably extroverted, I have quite a bit of social anxiety, and it takes a lot of effort for me to have successful interactions in the world.  If I’m pretending to be a fox or whatever, though, I can hide behind the fact that I’m doing just that, and the interactions go a lot smoother.  Perhaps it’s just the fact that I’m interacting with other furries, but I do feel that having that layer of Who I Really Feel I Am between me and my interlocutor does provide an additional level of comfort.

Interaction

The idea of a chosen family is not a new one.  I know that, at the very least, it ties into the idea of being kicked out of one’s home, and adopting a chosen family of sorts to help be the surrogates for those whom are no longer in ones lives.  Even beyond that, however, I think that the idea holds true within furry.  There is no one in my family with whom I am closer than some of my friends in the fandom.  The fact that my chosen family here, outside of my normal family whom I still love, can continue to grow and change just tickles me pink, too.  I can honestly say that, within the last two weeks, at least one additional member has been added to this family, someone with whom I am more comfortable talking to than most members of my blood-related family.  This always amazes me: the mutability of who we consider family is odd enough, but within the fandom, just how quickly those relationships can grow.

I’m not alone in this at all, either.  I asked on Twitter, before I started this article, what the most positive thing was that my followers could think of the fandom, and the majority of the answers revolved around the interconnectedness and relationships that spring from it.  “Made so many good friends,” “Given me […] a husband,” “that I am not being judged or ridiculed for who I am.”  These are all, to me, true signs of affection for the other members in our subculture.  That we have not found, but created an area where all of these things can be the case is quite singular, to me.  Of all the other subcultures to which I’d consider myself a member – programmers, musicians, awkward people – I don’t think that it’s likely that I would be able to build a friendship quite as quickly.  Sure, in programming, we can debate the (de)merits of PHP, or in music we can talk about preferences for music to perform versus music to listen to.  Neither of those things (thankfully) take up much of my identity, however.

See, here in our subculture, we combine all three of these levels of participation.  There’s the utmost personal level of creating a part of our identity around it, there’s the level wherein we create a front-stage mask that may, in some cases, more closely relate our back-stage personas, and there’s the level where we actively participate in the little micro-world around us.  So many of us have bought into the fandom (many in more ways than one) that it’s become something greater than the sum of its parts.  I challenge you all to do the same and imagine where you’d be without the fandom, try and figure out what theme, idea, culture, or group, or combination thereof, could take its place, and define the borders of furry in your own lives.  We really are pretty awesome.


I really am sorry for ducking out for so long, and I hope to be back soon for more posts-with-too-many-words.  You all are quite amazing in your own right, but by all means, feel free to say in the comments just how the furry fandom has been awesome to you, personally!  We’d love to hear some pawsitive* stories.

* HOLY MACKEREL check out THESE PAWS.

About Makyo

Makyo spends her time as a frumpy arctic fox, usually, but she's all over the map. She's been around furry since about 2000 under a variety of names. She writes, programs, and screws around with music.

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7 thoughts on “Furries Are Awesome

  1. I do hope that once I move in to my new place with the new job, I’ll be able to participate more in meeting furries in person. I think that going to your first bolded section, being around furries more will make me feel more like I’m living my life. I think that if I didn’t have furry, all I’d be is the sum of my projects. I like my work, but not enough to become it. On the other hand, when furries ask ‘What are you?’ All I can say is, ‘I AM.’ I have no fursona and my avatar is … the sum of my work so far. I think furry may be the social binding to my interests rather than any distinct identity. Or maybe I haven’t found anything I feel is worth identifying primarily as. I write, I make D&D manuals, I fursuit but I don’t feel like any of this is worth being the first to mention when someone asks about me. I wonder which is to be preferred, the monolithic unity I have cultivated or belonging to a subset.

  2. Great point. Even in the closely related sci-fi/fantasy fandoms, I don’t feel the same kind of kinship towards other members that I immediately do with furries. This is a theme that has definitely come up on this blog before. JM’s “Furry Accommodation Network” comes to mind.

  3. I’ve always been a big fan of quality over quantity anyway. Except when it comes to beer. Give me a furry to talk to and twenty bottles of cheap lager any day.

  4. Hi im ekundayo, ive been a silent fan for the past 1/2 a year and I agree that our group just has this ora about it thats just plain welcoming, wether it be the fact that hugs are our handshakes or nuzzles are our highfives or the fact that, I beleive speaks volumes, is how people,myself being one of them saw that the trueface of furs on no matter wer they first saw it as not sexual or deviouse as the world would like us to seem but as friendly, welcoming and just overflowing with these qualities, so welcoming and fun that thousands are willing to come to a convention many times on their own like I did and have a sense that “hey these people will except me and be kind no matter what I am or what I look like” as a minimum. that might not sound like a lot but in a world where people on the same sidewalk avoid eye contact is astounding, I personaly found the fandom two years ago after loosing my only brother and best friend to cancer, I was trying to take my mind off of things scowering the web for entertainment, I went on DA and got into sonic and then anthros which was an easy transfer bc I was always an animal lover watching zaboomafoo and tom and jerry etc. either way a month after joining DA I became my highschools mascot runnin around in a bulldog costume, then the night before my first game I looked up mascot and costume tips on google , and I found a link to anthrocon and I was like “woah! A convention for highschool mascots ill totally be able to learn tips from theme!” and then I found the fandom and most importantly the people, the amazingly loving people have given me a support network beyond some counciler shooting cold phsyc terms at me, ive found funny and goofy people to hang out with and keep my head off of things and have fun with new people, my name pays homage to wat the fandom has done for me Ekundayo means from saddness to happiness in zwahilli, thank you for having an amazing website that reads into the human mind through the eyes of a furry

  5. Yes. Furries are awesome.

    I’m so glad that I found a name for what I am. *wags her tail* And it just keeps getting better. I remember wearing a tail for the first time at Dragon*Con and thinking, “Oh! This is so cool!” But I didn’t really embrace the furry side of me until FurtherConfusion. And the first time I put on a fursuit head? Oh. My. Gosh. Seriously amazing! The hairballs even were incredibly fulfilling.

    I’m fortunate to have found the fandom and met so many wonderful folks in it.

  6. I’m so happy to be a furry! I’m 14 and my fursona isn’t quite clear, though I’m sure I’m a red fox. My experience started out with curiousity. I found a tumblr containing some “kinkier” sides to the fandom, and I only loved it for the art. I kept researching it and looking through so many websites and stories and furfictions and pretty soon I was overwhelmed! I never knew how interesting a culture the furries are, and even today I haven’t uncovered everything in the fandom! Since art plays a large role in my life, and I’m quite an animal-loving person, furries connected with me on almost a spiritual level. I’ve met so many great people in the fandom which, similar to you, are closer to me than my own blood family. Since I’ve been through so many rough times coming to terms with my bisexuality and going through a bunch of falls, furries have picked me up and given me a place where I can just be who I am and be with people that share similar interests! Now I’ve met the love of my life, who is also a furry himself, and I can’t ever thank this fandom enough for being itself. LONG LIVE FURRIES!!

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