Evidence that Furry is Following the Rest of the World

Guest post by Amethyst Basilisk, written as a counterpoint to JM’s article, Evidence that Furry Is Leading the Rest of the World.

One of the best benefits from participating in a creatively chaotic community such as furry is the ability to be whoever you’d like to be. It’s an important outlet for many of us – our expressions tend to come out in terms of being who we feel we’re not necessarily allowed to be from a greater cultural perspective. Most of us didn’t fit in, wherever we came from. Most of us were too geeky – too awkward, even. Too loud and boisterous, too strange or too tweaked. As a result, we’ve fled to and cultivated ourselves a safe haven from emotional treachery. The only explicit laws against fantasy in most cultures are typically put in place to prevent fraud and violence. However, there also exists a social hierarchy which takes every opportunity to reinforce one’s alleged place in its expansive machinery. A plethora of societal and financial pressures as well as generalized threats on survival are applied in order to enforce this order whenever possible. A lack of order, as the host species appears to feel, is a formula for destruction.

Furries balk at this thought. Furries pretend to be whoever the heck they want to be, regardless of what others may think of them – at least non-furries, anyway. The community attempts to shed the societal pressures; intellectual disdain; and hatred toward experimentation; to craft crafts of provocative proportions. As a result, furries are outcasts for the things they enjoy doing, allegedly hated by the rest of the world for what’s perceived as anywhere from fun to enlightenment.

One of the sad ironies of cleverly crafted utopias are their abilities to mimic and even amplify the societal sundries they’re attempting to flee. Furry is Schrödinger’s Island.

Schrödinger’s Island is a neologism piggybacking on the quantum parable of Schrödinger’s cat. Its use attempts to describe a social phenomenon wherein participants of the furry community simultaneously attempt to receive recognition from the greater culture that has allegedly rejected them and equally boast– sometimes to arrogant degrees – about how separated they are from the culture as a whole (e.g., aggressively boasting about furry pride to a group who is perhaps ignorant or just doesn’t particularly care). Essentially, on one hand, actively identifying as a furry is an emotional protest toward the arbitrary boundaries enforced on them in a culture that rejects such sense of freedom to self-identify. Without the element of societal rejection from a puritanical society, it’s very difficult to argue that furry would be what it is today. And yet on the other hand there’s this intense craving to be accepted for who we are – hence the hand-to-forehead magnetism induced by the more stereotypically vocal among us.

This psychological schism doesn’t have a tendency to exist in one person: it’s a social superposition which causes emotional projections of what brought us here in the first place, leading to bizarre circular arguments, self-fulfilling prophecies, and a naively malevolent darkness that allows for all sorts of horrible abuses to happen. To summarize: what is a hero without a villain? And what happens when the hero yearns for villains to confirm their heroic existence? Will they find villains they didn’t know of before, or will molds be formed to redefine their villainy? Let’s go with a common (and easy) villain of the puritanical mindset, as well as the reputation of the furry community as a whole: sex.

Statistics regarding the opinions on sexual psychology in the furry community make this quantum ideology stand out like a sore thumb. Frequently, when furries are polled, they feel the rest of the furry community is way more sexualized than they are personally – which is to say not very much, of course. A cynic would argue blatant hypocrisy, whereas an easy counter-argument is citing statistics regarding artistic production: there are always, on average, much more general audience productions than erotic productions on a given furry site, at a given furry art show or in a given furry artist alley. Yet, as furries, we know a dead horse when we see one, so let’s shirk the stud-shank. There’s an interesting curiosity in having sex panic in the first place. Let’s talk about sin.

Sin isn’t simply biblical. All cultures have sins. Sins are a means of social control enforced by those who feel emboldened and uplifted by their followers. What the leader deigns, the followers enforce, creating exiles in their wake and loyalists for the cause. There are many cultural sins – sex is just one of them. But sex has been used as a means of social control back before the bible, so to declare sex as a weapon of the puritan would make Ghengis Khan cackle.

Sex is used in the furry community in a similar way – though mostly to control the perception of what others think of us. Attempting to portray an opposing opinion on the sexuality of furries…does not usually end well. Trying to enforce it as a good thing usually creates strong opinions one way or the other regarding what others will think of them. It’s rather difficult to have an intelligent discussion about sex in mixed company – and this isn’t even really a furry problem! But the push-back in talking honestly about sex touches on one of the more cardinal sins of the furry community.

Picture a parade. Fursuits and other costumes cruise through. Everything is normal. Try and picture one of the costumers striding past you while performing in character, utilizing the physical mannerisms of their costumed persona to really bring that outfit to life. Then imagine them locking eyes on you with excitement, pulling off their fursuit head and striking up a conversation with you while the parade is going on behind them. What is your perception of the crowd around you?

The first perception that comes immediately to mind is annoyance, irritation and fingered, judgmental murmurings from the rest of the crowd. This fursuiter has sinned. They ruined the fantasy.

But this sin goes beyond fiction. This sin in particular – the ruination of fantasy – has deep, deep roots that go to the core of our emotional utopia and reach further into the puritanical society we feel exiled by, even through attempts to exhume the very thing many feel furry provides as a shelter from attack. To present furry as anything potentially adult to others is a sin: that ruins the fantasy of furry being acceptable by society, and its members as acceptable by proxy. To state that public furry groupings could potentially be an unsafe place is a sin: that ruins the fantasy of furry as a safe-haven from the greater villainy we ran from. To make claim of potential malevolence, be it sexual, violent or psychologically manipulative by another furry, is a sin: that ruins the fantasy that furries are friendly and affectionate. Analogies apply equally to the puritanical society furry attempts to escape.

Yet this inability to even question the fantasies that exist within the furry community itself – combined with the Internet’s infinite appetite for being proven permanently right – allows the very abusive villainy furries fled from to flourish. As is standard in the society furry left behind, the survival response to prevent one’s self from becoming either insane or isolated becomes apathy. A cascade of anti-intellectualism occurs due to a rising desire to become the most apathetic of a given group, and from there the cycle of psychological (and, though thankfully relatively rarely, physical) abuse continues to tumble along in the darkness.

The movie Inception provides a fascinating metaphor for the horrifying phenomenon caused when one becomes consumed by the fantasy world. As the protagonists dig deeper into the dreams of their victim, they go further and further into the many layers of dreams, with limbo being the final layer. But limbo is infinity. Limbo is simultaneously everything and nothing. Limbo is exactly what you make of it. And its perfection is as much beautiful as it is horrifying. Beautiful in its ability to create exactly what you want and how you want it; horrifying from the existential stress imposed from over-pressing the dopamine depressor.

Inasmuch as we may be leaders by actively experimenting with our newfound freedom to abstractly identify ourselves, there exist strengthened and well-enforced cultural patterns from this identicraft that caused us to disobey standard social order in the first place. Yet instead of attempting to address these patterns, they are culturally shoved under the nearest rugs and dismissively declared as drama. In that regard, the furry community unfortunately follows the beat of the same oppressive drum this escapism attempts to shut out: protect the fantasy of order at all costs.

The social order of furry is founded primarily on the quality of fantasy. It is our culturally accepted vice. But what makes us followers instead of leaders in this regard is our inability to give our fantastical society a strong foundation by questioning and maintaining its fantastic structure. Leaders fight for their followers with bold and courageous tactics – not propaganda.

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10 thoughts on “Evidence that Furry is Following the Rest of the World

  1. Fantastic read. Furry taboos are a great topic because they’re so repulsive to people – they’re taboos, after all. But furry taboos aren’t the same as other societal taboos. The unwritten rules are different. Don’t criticize FurAffinity; if you don’t like it, leave. Don’t criticize poor social decisions; you might hurt someone’s feelings. Don’t criticize artists; they’re trying, and that’s all that matters.

    It might be a local thing, but I’ve actually heard about heated arguments from furries where I live about talking while in suit. On one side, it breaks the illusion of the character you’re trying to portray and comes off as ‘unprofessional’. On the other hand (and this is the argument I favor) – Who cares? It’s not a big deal.

    There’s also inherent polarization in furries trying to claim to be something else, something better. Kage and other camera-loving furries love to stare into any local news lens they can and tell the world that furries are just like everyone else. On the other hand, furries want to be different. They feel enlightened; donning a homespun animal costume isn’t just some kind of hobby, but a badge of honor worn by those who are just more creative and self-accepting than everyone else.

    1. And then we can take all of this even further, simply turn it around and say “isn’t this exactly what the culture we came from does?”

      It’s very, very fun to think about furry as a sort of half-human orourboros. It feels its human counterpart is a deformation, then attempts to evolve scales only to consume itself. The thought-process of this culture fascinates me to no end sometimes in what it’s capable of!

      1. As far as ‘isn’t this exactly what the culture we came from does?’; I can agree, for the second part of my response. (Furries, in my experience, are *incredibly* thin-skinned. I come from a competitive gaming culture background. It’s the exact opposite.)

        Someone (who might have been you, under a slightly different pseudonym) once said, “The irony of the furry fandom is that it’s more human than humans are.” Furry seems to fill a lot of pretty primal needs for a lot of people: the need to be accepted, the need to get laid without having to call the next morning, the need to act silly without being judged, and the need to pat something fuzzy because it feels nice.

        1. That was likely indeed me under a different pseudonym. I recall saying this at FC sometime this year or last year. :)

  2. First of all, the term “sin” all came from “Religious” things, including the bible I think, second, it isn’t the “sex” that is the sin. It’s the fear of “sex”, the real sin (If it exist).. If society would learn to remove all fear of it and learn to focus on real issues, then we wouldn’t have control no matter what. Only thing bad about “sex” is to use it to make false ID of a person who has no interest (Same thing is bad to use non-interest over a interest person)

    Second,
    Blaming people who wants to embrace harmless “sexual expressions” instead of society who can choose to accept it, is major messed up and a major ignorance thing. Sorry if I miss read the article.

    Just saying in case.

    1. Well, yes, the etymology of sin has its origins in religion. There’s no questioning that. But religion is simply a handbook for social rule. That’s why I described these as sins. I think it fits. :)

      I appreciate you showing humility in potentially misreading the article. Sadly, I feel you may have. I’m not laying blame on people who want to embrace harmless sexual expressions– quite the opposite, in fact. One of the things that I absolutely adore about the furry culture is its open willingness to be sexual in nature while not necessarily being its focus. It’s a wonderful thing.

      Yet, without realizing it, a lot of the same patterns are mimicked. The only group that I really feel blame should be pointed at– though finger-pointing is a tad unconstructive– is, indeed, the very society who refuses to accept it. That’s the point I’m trying to make in the article. We have tried to cultivate a culture that escapes this very abusive emotional beration and yet at the same time have been programmed to feel guilty for it.

      That’s the ultimate problem I’m attempting to point out, here. We’ve been beaten. We’ve been punched and shoved around in one way or another in some form as a collective whole. Some of us take emotional vengeance by acquiring positions of power in this crafted hierarchy we’ve made. Some of us wind up reliving the same terrible patterns we’re attempting to hide from.

      The problem isn’t the culture itself insomuch as the culture’s inability to collectively figure out a way to move past the trauma resulting in the fantastical escape. And it’s not to point fingers and punish, either. It’s an attempt to expose a pattern more than anything, really. :)

      Thanks for the comment! n..n

  3. Hi Amethyst. Like Zik, I think this is a terrific article and fascinating read.

    I’m gratified to think that it has been inspired, at least in part, by my preceding article. And it’s a well-crafted counterpoint: I’m well aware that I can be a bit of a cheerleader for furry, and that I sometimes elide the negative points while focussing on the positive. I don’t really intend to change that—I’m an optimist by nature—and hopefully I’m not too over-the-top, at least not all the time. Your words add a lot of value.

    It’s an outstanding piece of writing, too. Several of my friends have gone out of their way to mention how impressed they are. I’ll add to their collective voice, and say that I hope we see more contributions from you here on [a][s].

    One final comment: Makyo has put together a very nifty visualization that summarizes the differences between the importance they personally place on sex, and the perceived sexualization of the fandom. It’s here: http://vis.adjectivespecies.com/furrysurvey/sexImportance.shtml.

    1. I’m really happy to hear it’s been taken so well! I’ve always worried about taking this sort of writing approach to dissecting the furry culture. It’s always really, really interested in me in so many different ways, seeing the social intricacies that occur and whatnot.

      I’ll see about writing something again in the future. I’m happy for all the reception received so far. :)

  4. I feel like this article, while well-written and logical, may have been built on an erroneous assumption. I don’t think individual furries maintain the contradictory or hypocritical notions you describe. You’ve fallen prey to the quirk of our human minds that causes us to consider large groups of people as if they were a single person. If I’ve understood correctly, your thesis seems to be akin to the old idea that nonconformists just conform to a different society, with the twist that furries maintain a strange dualism between mainstream and counterculture mores; I don’t think this is the case. I think the discrepancies in furry behavior are because we might be true nonconformists; not defined in opposition to the mainstream, but simply refraining from conforming.

    1. That’s an interesting perspective! If I’m reading what you’re saying right, to summarize: while a group can conform to not conforming, its defined set which makes one conform is effectively zero. I’ve never really thought about it that way, that’s very cool.

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