How to Pick Up (Furry) Women

The number of straight (or bi) male furries far outweighs the number of straight (or bi) female furries. Around 1 in 5 furries are female, and some of those are gay or asexual. We looked at the numbers last year and estimated that about 16% of furries—1 in 6—are women who may be interested in a relationship with a guy. And many of those will already be in a relationship, or otherwise not available.

You can read how we reached that conclusion, along with some discussion in a previous article (which has my favourite title to date): It’s Raining Men. It shows how furry’s gender imbalance and sexual orientation demographics conspire to make it difficult for heterosexual guys to find a relationship with a fellow furry. (It’s even worse if you’re a furry lesbian.)

This article is a guide to how a heterosexual male can maximize his chances of finding a furry girlfriend; without being a stalker, without pulling any pick-up-artistry nonsense, and without being creepy or otherwise contributing to the problem that’s keeping women away from the furry community.

It’s true that women are staying away from public furry gatherings, and they’re staying away because they are being harassed by men who are hoping to pick them up, talk to them, or just make friends. Data collected online (ref Furrypoll) and data collected at large conventions (ref IARP) show this trend: online we’re (around) 80% male; at conventions we’re (around) 90% male.

We furries have the same problem as gamers, cosplayers, and sports fans: if you’re female and wish to attend an event, you have to prepare yourself for the possibility of receiving unwelcome attention. Some women are naturally more able to ignore or combat this attention; other women simply stop going. And so we tend to mostly see women who are happy enough dealing with this nonsense, and we tend to think of these women as normal. It’s easy to hold them up as an example for all women, and to suggest that all women should consider unsolicited male attention ‘in the right spirit’, or as an ‘ego boost’.

Such standards are wrong. It serves to reinforce the idea that women should be able to deal with unwanted advances themselves… and so the shy, the young, and the I’ve-had-enough-of-this-crap crowd stay away.

So the first rule for meeting furry women is to consider a public furry gathering to be a Safe Space. This means that you should never approach a women with the intent of striking up a conversation, and you should encourage your male friends to follow the same example. Furry gatherings are a place for people, men and women, to socialize with friends. If a guy is inserting himself into a social group because he is motivated by the chance to meet someone of the opposite sex, then he is breaking the tacit social contract, and needs to cut it out.

It sounds counter-intuitive to suggest that, in order to meet more furry women, you should avoid introducing yourself at a social gathering. But such non-action is simply respectful and fair, and will save you from being labelled as a creep.

I am suggesting, by the way, that you treat men differently from women. You can reasonably initiate social contact with (most) men. It’s easy to see this as a double standard.

It’s not a double standard, because there is a difference in the experiences of men and women. Women live in a world where sexual harassment is a very real problem, where men being assertive can be perceived to be threatening, and where women feel like they need to be on their guard in case a friendly gesture is misinterpreted. Men don’t have the same problem because the social stakes are not loaded: it’s a lot easier for a man to brush off the advances of another man, and take it as an ego boost.

It’s a similar situation to how you should treat a celebrity, perhaps at a furry convention. People who are well known will be in demand, and they may find themselves constantly interrupted by well-meaning fans. There are opportunities for fans to meet and socialize with the celebrity, but these need to be controlled by the celebrity, otherwise they risk being overwhelmed by the attention. And if the celebrity can’t reasonably control the social demand placed on them, they must leave.

Women can find themselves in a similar situation, with the added pressure of the male-dominated gender imbalance. A single approach, no matter how friendly and well-meaning, can be sufficiently difficult such that it undermines all the good things about being around friends and furries at a gathering.

I feel like I’m wading into the territory of men’s rights here, a mostly internet-based philosophy that suggests that men have the raw end of the gender stick. Men’s rights advocates are usually well-meaning, but are misguided. They would suggest that it’s unfair that there are special rules that apply to men when talking to women, compared to any other situation (man talking to man, woman talking to man, woman talking to woman). They are right that it’s different, but it’s not unfair… not towards men anyway.

The men’s rights movement thinks that the genders should be treated equally. As it turns out, this is a pretty good definition of the goal of feminism. There is a conflict because the men’s-righters are largely ignorant to the challenges that are faced by women (but not faced by men). Men’s-righters suggest that we should be gender-blind, which is the sort of bone-headed idealization of the real world that might inform a high-concept Star Trek episode.

I don’t want to delve too deeply into feminism or the bizarro world of men’s rights here. It’s interesting stuff but it’s not the topic of this article. I accept that some readers might challenge my characterization of men’s rights, and I’m happy to participate in a wider discussion: perhaps in a co-authored point-counterpoint article for future publication here on [a][s]. If you’re interested, drop me a line (jm@furrynet.com).

Before I move on, I want to give a modern example of a challenge uniquely faced by women: the concept of the ‘friendzone’. The idea is that if a guy has a female friend, he runs the risk of being seen as only a friend and not a potential romantic parter—he is in the ‘friendzone’. It’s a concept rooted in the idea that men want women, but that women don’t want men. The idea is part misogyny and part self-hatred (it’s self-hatred because it suggests that only women can be attractive). The worst aspect of the ‘friendzone concept is that it implies that the friendship of the woman in question is only worth having because of the possibility of a romantic relationship. It’s a term that reinforces the inferiority of women to men; a male-male friendship would never be debased in such a way.

The plight of women in furry goes largely unrecognized or unnoticed because of majority privilege. We are male-dominated, and so our collective experience is largely male-centric. Contrary points of view, perhaps like some expressed in this article, are treated with natural skepticism because they challenge the agreed groupthink. And so women who express unhappiness with their social experience are disregarded for being fringe—after all, we have lots of gay guys in furry and straight guys don’t mind getting hit on occasionally, and that’s just the same right? We men don’t experience things from the women’s point of view, so we are unable to empathize.

But we can sympathize. And we can behave in a way that makes furry a welcoming environment for everyone.

So, guys, here is how to meet a furry woman:

  1. Furry gatherings are a Safe Space. Don’t approach any woman who is not already a good friend.
  2. You are playing a numbers game. You are going to have to meet, and get to know, 10 to 20 people for each potentially eligible woman. Be patient.
  3. So be social, especially online. Get to know people, regardless of gender, in different social circles. You will meet new people through the connections of friends-of-friends.
  4. Do not pursue a relationship with someone until you are already good friends. You should have known her for months, not weeks or days. You should have met several times in person and be comfortable in one another’s company.
  5. If you are interested in someone, ask online or over text (not in person) whether she is interested. Make it brief and respectful. If she isn’t interested, drop it. Forever. Consider this person for evermore to be a friend of yours.

(And if you’re a guy, and you’re interested in a male friend? You can be more direct. The social dynamics are different: if he’s not interested, he’s much less likely to find it threatening or inappropriate.)

Being single can be lonely. It can be easy to think of a relationship as something you need. This is compelling but flawed: relationships don’t come on demand.

So if you are single, take the opportunity to focus on yourself. Work towards meeting your own emotional and social needs, and work towards making your future self as attractive as possible. You can do this by learning new things, broadening your interests, and generally doing things that you know are good for you.

And if you are feeling isolated, have a read of this article geared towards the lonely fur: A Rough Guide To Loneliness.

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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51 thoughts on “How to Pick Up (Furry) Women

  1. “Don’t approach any woman who is not already a good friend.”

    I wouldn’t go that far! Guys should understand that if our guard is up or we seem a little more reserved at a convention (or other meet), it’s because we’re vastly outnumbered. Other than that, the same rules apply, meeting people is easiest through shared interests: Writing, playing music, playing a specific game or sport, etc.

    I would agree with JM on this point (and want to expand on it): Look to meet FRIENDS. Try to meet people you can connect with on several levels, and meet as many as you can! Every experience is valuable, and most relationships start out as a close friendship.

    We’re not some strange foreign species, I promise :)

  2. I think it’s a little ridiculous to suggest that you shouldn’t talk to women in social gatherings. Hit on them? No. Make inappropriate jokes? No. But treating them like delicate fawns that will be harassed by you saying hello and striking up a conversation about their art or where they got their great badge is just flat out insulting to women. Encouraging men to not talk to women is not making men sensitive to women’s feelings, it’s teaching men to be afraid of interacting with women because of those feelings.

    I go to conventions for panels. I guess this means that I can’t talk to the female panelists after said panels. Or if I am on one, i shoudln’t talk to any female audience members that want to talk afterwards, or any audience members for that matter.

    You also point out that all the attention pushes away the shy and the newcomers. Well, one cultural aspect put upon women is the aversion to be assertive/aggressive. Culturally women are encouraged to be more passive, or to let the conversation/attention/bla come to them. So they are less likely to be the initiators of contact, period. This would be Especially true of shy or new people. If everyone took your advice, then women would be Ignored at furry gatherings. That’s a great way to encourage them to come back – have no one interact with them.

    1. Rechan, thanks for the comment. I suspect that you and I are going to disagree on some points, but thank you for being critical in a friendly fashion.

      I don’t say that “you shouldn’t talk to women in social gatherings”, I said that you shouldn’t approach women at a furry gathering unless you are already friends. There is a small but important difference.

      Your comment about female panelists is well made, and you’re right. However this is an edge case, and edge cases are easy to find whenever someone makes a general statement, like I have in my article. I’m sure you can think of some other outlying cases that contradict my general point, however I think my argument stands under the overwhelming majority of cases. Common sense can be applied elsewhere.

      In your final paragraph you suggest that approaching women, out of the blue, at a furry gathering, is somehow doing them a favour. I think that is exactly the sort of attitude that is scaring women away.

      I do accept that some men might be a little (more) afraid of interacting with women after reading my article. I’m okay with that. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s a price worth paying for a furry community that’s more welcoming to women.

      Anyway, thanks for the counterpoint. I’m sure a lot of people reading this article will agree with you.

  3. I would disagree with the concept that “men” are not negatively impacted by unwanted advances. I’ve been in the position of having unwanted advances by another male at conventions, and it was not as you say an “ego boost”.

    This article and that experience does make me believe that we are heading toward gender equality in this fandom… unfortunately instead of the good kind of equality, for look at your article again… tell me, what is the difference between the false representation of women taking things you presented:

    “It’s easy to hold them up as an example for all women, and to suggest that all women should consider unsolicited male attention ‘in the right spirit’, or as an ‘ego boost’.”

    and your perception based upon your thought on how men should take things?:

    “–it’s a lot easier for a man to brush off the advances of another man, and take it as an ego boost.”

    No, it’s not. It’s just as awkward when you decline someone asking you if you want to go out to eat someplace away from the convention center that you just met and then tell them no and then have them following you around like a lost puppy. It’s not an ‘ego boost’, it’s a situation that is hard to deal with.

    1. Hi Tantroo, thanks for the comment.

      There is a difference in the experiences of men and women – one you illustrate with your example. Your lost puppy is annoying; a woman in your situation may feel physically threatened. One is awkward, the other is scary. Both are negative impacts, but they are very very different.

  4. I’m not a fan of this article, because it actually does quite a bit to reinforce the negative gender roles that it attempts to dispel.

    If we, as a fandom, actually want women to participate, they need to feel welcome. The quickest way to make people feel *unwelcome* is by collectively agreeing to ignore them at gatherings unless you already know them. It’s really easy to imagine someone who shows up at a meet and wants to meet people, but can’t because of some notion that men are not allowed to approach women. Better advice would be “don’t approach women who don’t want to be approached”, which is impossible to know. So that leaves us at “don’t continue to bug women who don’t want to be bugged”, which is a) universally true advice that does not apply to furries and b) universally true advice that does not apply only to women. I’d be pretty upset (and have been) by people who don’t take a hint when to leave me alone, but I’d be HORRIFIED of a world in which no one approached me because they thought me to be a special snowflake.

    I don’t presently have the bandwidth to respond at length like Proto did, but this article makes a few too many generalizations that I do not feel are even necessary.

    1. Hi Forneus, thanks for comment. I appreciate the criticism, as I do from Proto’s longer comment. I’m curious as to what you mean by how I’m reinforcing negative gender roles.

      You are both spot on to say that my advice is too general to always be correct. There are always going to be problems with sweeping statements, not the least of which is my numbered “how to do this” at the end. I’m fully aware that there are problems, but the intent is to provide help for those straight guys who are interested in relationships with women: and right now, these guys are collectively scaring women away.

      And like I mentioned to Proto: women have been universally positive towards this article (here, on Twitter, elsewhere). All the criticism has come from men. That suggests to me that I have it about right.

  5. I certainly agree with the Safe Zone point and the basic ideas outline here. With regard to the last few paragraphs, it can be helpful to not limit oneself to self-identified furries. You may share several other interests with someone who does not identify as furry, and they might even become a furry after you introduce them to the fandom.

    I would say that although I have often heard how few women there are at furry cons, I was actually pleasantly surprised when I went to FurFright some years back and saw that there a much more equitable ratio.

  6. I have to agree with Latte and others that not approaching women at all is a mistake. Seriously, we are fine with guys talking too us, we just aren’t fine with guys’ unwanted flirting. Half the reason I go to cons is to meet and talk to new people, so it would be hardly socializing if 50%-80% of the people ignored me or were afraid to talk to me (also horribly awkward and unwelcoming). However I also understand that some guys do not know how to talk to women without coming off as creepy (trust me, I’ve had my share of them).

    Here’s a very important thing to remember for all guys reading this: Do not talk to a woman with the intent of getting in a romantic or sexual relationship. I know there are guys who want that kind of relationship, but it is very awkward and stressful for us, and ruins our experience at the con. We often have to deal with that stuff on a daily basis, so we can easily tell when someone is desperately trying to flirt with us, and it’s tiring. Seriously, think of us as actual people instead of future flings (if you are at guy who already thinks this, yay!). If you want to get to know her, think of her as a person and overtime a romantic relationship may develop if both are interested.

    Also, if you’re a guy having trouble talking to women, here are some general rules (based of my experience):
    – Do not invade her personal space. If she steps back, don’t move.
    – Do not appear out of the blue and start talking randomly about things, even if you say hi first. It’s very disconcerting.
    – For conversation starters, compliment or point out things that do not have anything to do with her being a women. Things like “You have a wonderful suit!” or “Hey, I like your Adventure Time shirt. It’s great to meet a fellow fan!” are acceptable and wonderful to hear. Things like “You’re beautiful.” or “Your cosplay is hot.” is veeeery creepy.”
    – Recognize body language. If she is turned away from you, not looking at you, doing something else, and only speaks with a few words, she’s not interested and probably uncomfortable. Break off the conversation and leave. If she is facing you, actively talking, and making eye contact, she’s okay with you and having fun.
    – Speaking of talking, let her talk as well. Do not ramble on and on forever.
    – If she leaves, uncomfortable or not, do not try and follow her unless she wants you too. It can be considered stalking if you do.
    – For the love of all that is Holy, please, DO NOT bring up your sexual preferences, fantasies, and your porn collection. In fact, don’t do this to ANYONE. It’s disgusting.

    1. Hi Scape, thanks for the comment.

      The issue is, I think, about motivation. This article is geared towards guys who are interested in a relationship with a woman. I think that such a guy should never approach a woman at a furry gathering, out of the blue, because of her gender. I think it’s a very rare guy who can manage to start such a conversation without being at least a little creepy.

      1. In that case, yea, guys should definitely not get their hopes up if they’re only looking for a romantic relationships right off the bat. Though I have met a couple women who are looking for romantic relationships (emphasize ‘couple’), just assume all women are just there to talk to like-minded fans and not flirt. It automatically makes everything much less confusing and uncomfortable.

  7. The title is a little misleading – the term “pick up” is typically associated with very short-term relationships with the goal of casual sex, but that’s not really what this piece advises on.

    The truth is that most women at, say, a convention don’t go there to be ‘picked up’ in any sense. Chances are high that they’re artists who have work to do (women make up ~18% of con-goers, but it’s closer to 50% of artists) – and if not, they probably came with friends, or to meet them. They may be willing to make new friends, but most aren’t looking to have sex with such friends right off the bat. In this sense, the article is right; you have to develop a relationship first.

    I would love to see a good article written on this topic; but I think it would be best if it were written by a woman. :-)

    1. Hi Greenreaper, thanks for the comment. I’m curious to hear where you have your 18% number from. The IARP, as best as I can tell (because they don’t explicitly break down which responses to their survey are online vs in person) pegs it at around 10%.

      And this article would be /much/ better if it were written by a woman. I’ve spent the best part of two years chatting with furry women in my circles and seeing if any of them would be interested in writing this, or a similar, article. I know Makyo has tried as well, and neither of us have had any luck.

      In the end, I decided that an article written by a guy is better than no article at all. So this article is based on those conversations, and an awful lot of research.

      It’s probably telling that I couldn’t find any women to write on this topic, or feminist topics in general, for a furry audience. I suspect they would be making themselves a target for abuse – I, at least, can only be accused of misrepresenting a gender.

    2. Yeah… problem with the article is that it boils down to “ignore women” – makes it hard to build up _any_ relationship with them at all.

  8. I’d say, as son of a feminist, that things may be a little bit more nuanced than stated but the reality is heavily based around body language and other non-verbal signals.

    Unfortunately from what I’ve seen these are areas are very heavily biased into particular fashions at large furry gatherings, and this is compounded by various reflective and mimetic social effects, along with easy access to uninhibitors such as alcohol.

    It should be noted that men with feminine attributes can have equally the same problems in dealing with such behaviours and herd-bravado.

    So unless you are a trained actor, psychologist, sociopath or just naturally very self-aware, the advice makes quite a bit of sense, if perhaps slightly simplifying the actual socio-psychological reasons.

  9. I wonder if this whole article would be less controversial if it was much shorter, on the order of: “Furmeets and cons aren’t singles nights: don’t flirt or make romantic advances towards women you aren’t already friends with.” Going further only seems to have invited misunderstanding.

    The suggestion that men (or even just straight men) shouldn’t talk to women *at all* unless they’ve become friends online first strikes me as a step too far, but if that’s indeed the prevailing opinion amongst women then it’s not for me (or any other guy) to contradict and it’s good for you to let us know. If more girls chipped in on the comments, and/or you had some data to cite, that’d be great.

    The counterargument that this would make girls feel unwelcome strikes me as wrong for two reasons: first, it seems a bit egotistical and even a little misogynist (however unintentional), implying that girls can’t socialise on their own terms or will somehow suffer if blokes don’t talk to them. Secondly, the rule wouldn’t stop girls speaking to other girls there, approaching you themselves, or joining a group of people that you’re also part of; all three situations have a different dynamic that makes introducing yourself much less problematic.

      1. Hi Scape! Sorry if I was unclear. My comments on A|S are usually about as long as the articles, and I wanted to try something new. :P

        The last paragraph is addressing the argument made by at least one or two people in these comments that (to pick on @rechan as one example) “If everyone took your advice, then women would be Ignored at furry gatherings”.

        It’s a straw man argument; I don’t think anyone is suggesting that *everyone* should ignore girls at gatherings. JM’s article is addressing straight men looking to “pick up”, not all men, and certainly not all men and women.

        Then I speculated that if most women do in fact agree with JM’s rule, then for a man to then say that women risk being completely ignored at gatherings:

        1. denies the possibility that women might start a conversation themselves; not always, but you know, it happens :)

        2. forgets that men aren’t the only gender present at these things; there are plenty of people to talk to who aren’t you (especially if the rule is only for straight men looking to pick up – that leaves nearly *everyone* at a typical furry gathering free to say hi)

        3. just because they don’t know *you*, doesn’t mean they don’t know anyone else there or that they’re being ignored by everyone.

        4. if JM is right and most women prefer not to be approached by men and you do it anyway because you think they’ll be lonely without you, then there might be something wrong with your ego or your attitude toward women.

        And finally I suggested that JM’s rule seems to be specifically addressing a single man approaching a lone woman “out of the blue” as it were, and that there are other situations where it’d probably be just fine to introduce yourself, for example if you’re both standing in a group of mutual friends or people with a mutual interest.

        1. Thanks for the reply! Responding to both of your comments, by the way.

          You’re correct in your second comment. The main problem with the article is JM didn’t specify that “approach” meant “flirt”, hence why a lot of people were confused on why he was advocating not talking to women at all. So, yes, it’s totally fine that men talk to women, but just not flirt with us. That’s the prevailing opinion.

          For your first comment, women initiate conversations with men all the time at cons. Thank you for bringing this up actually, because I forgot to mention in my original comment that if a woman starts the conversation, that is not an invitation for the man to flirt with her. Just because she started the conversation with him does not mean she wants to be in a relationship with him. She’s just wants to have a fun conversation. I know this seems obvious, but there are a lot of guys out there who think “woman talking to me = she wants to bang me”. It’s…weird.

          1. You both have it right. This article is written for those guys who want to meet women. Essentially, if you are approaching someone female because of her gender, I think that you’re contributing to a significant problem in our community.

      2. Oh and in case I wasn’t clear in the first two paragraphs either, my own assumptions were (and remain unless JM provides substantial evidence to the contrary) much, much closer to what Latte, Bara and yourself have written here, i.e. it’s just /fine/ for guys to talk to girls at social gatherings, as long as it’s with no other motivation than friendship, that they don’t just pop up out of the blue, or fail to respect personal space or pick up on body language.

        If that’s not the prevailing opinion, which is what JM is at least implying, then I’d really appreciate knowing.

  10. As a furry woman (taken, yes, but looking for friends) I have the absolute opposite problem at furry social gatherings and fur cons. Most furries there tend to be rather cliquish and only talk to their friends, and being a shy person I have problems starting up conversations with new people. So yeah, that (to me) is proof right there that only talking to women you are already friends with doesn’t make a safe space, it only makes things even more uncomfortable and unwelcome for newcomers.

    Scape above already outlined the points for making a real safe space, which I agree with. The general rule is to talk to anyone – male or female – AS A FRIEND, with a good amount of personal space thrown in. Bring up common interests perhaps, introduce yourself, but don’t start right with “you’re beautiful” or “you’re hot”. The reason why women feel uncomfortable in the furry fandom is not that too many guys talk to them, but they get groped, harassed and creeped on.

    My advice for a straight guy looking for a relationship with a woman is go looking for friends first, no matter if they are male or female. The more friends one has, the more likely one will perhaps introduce you to someone you might have a romantic relationship with – that was how I found my mate. X3

    1. This, this, O this. I can’t agree with Bara’s comment enough, especially her final paragraph.

      Both inside furry and outside it, the single best way for a man to put a woman off from wanting to be around you without being an outright creep, is to come across as looking for a relationship.

      Personally speaking (and I stress this) I can’t imagine how or why anybody would place looking for a relationship above looking to get to know interesting new people and possibly making friends, but I’m coming to accept that I am out of synch with at least a percentage of the human race (and not just the furry part) in this.

      On a tangentially related note, JM, I would love to know exactly what you mean by “the bizarro world of men’s rights”, and why you threw that honking great value judgment in there and left it sitting like a polar bear on an ice floe. I don’t say that your judgment is right or wrong, per se, but I’m surprised nobody else seems to have called you on it thus far.

      1. The Bizarro World is a DC comics invention, where everything is just like Earth except in a negative form. (It got referenced in Seinfeld a few times.) Men’s righters think that the genders should be treated equally… except they believe that men are the gender that is systematically discriminated against by society.

        So I’ve characterized men’s rights as the Bizarro World reflection of feminism.

  11. I think your data must be screwy. On Fur Affinity, the majority of the artists I watch are female. And I’m currently watching 1542 artists. And on Second Life, male avatars are in the minority. Perhaps conventions aren’t the best place to look for female Furries. After all, only so many Furries can afford conventions. I know I can’t.

    I don’t believe in telling people how to pick up women, or men for that matter. One should just be themselves. If the person finds you likeable, they will want to talk to you. But if you are not compatible, it’s best to realize that right away, and not try to go faking that you’re something you’re not.

    Furry girls tend to be Furry geeks, just like Furry guys. They have no reason to be put off by geekish behavior. Perverted or obnoxious behavior is another matter, of course. And you’re just going to have to hold out for a guy or girl who’s that way too.

    Just fly your flag and wear your heart on your sleeve. Someone will try to snatch it from you. Just pray you don’t end up regretting it for the rest of your life.

    1. Hi Perri, thanks for the comment.

      You’ve noticed an important difference in the furry experience of men and women: women are much, much more likely to be artists. Our data, from furrypoll.com, and the IARP (a group of professional furry researchers) both show that furries are around 20% female. However around 50% of artists are female. So if you are following artists, you will see a huge difference from furry reality.

      Makyo has written about this before on [a][s], here: http://www.adjectivespecies.com/2012/02/01/eighty-twenty/

      I haven’t seen any data on Second Life, however I’ll take a look around and see what I can dredge up. It would be very interesting indeed if SL were attracting a preponderance of furry women.

  12. Nice general post JM – I agree with the criticisms as well, but I see those as having been adequately addressed.

    I generally like meeting new people, but definitely not if the only reason someone is talking to me is because I might be interested in them. It does make me feel uncomfortable.

    Also, although I’m well and truly able to negotiate my own boundaries in social spaces etc, I do find spaces where I’m the only or one of the only girls to be potentially more intimidating. By that what I really mean is: it’s more work and I am less likely to relax and feel like I can just be myself and have a good time. I’ll probably enjoy myself, but it will also probably feel like work, if that makes sense?

    1. Hi Mynxii, thanks for the comment. I agree with many of the criticisms as well, and I’m thankful for those who stopped by to respectfully disagree. We’re lucky here at [a][s] – we have a pretty excellent readership.

      What you’re saying makes complete sense. When any of us choose to socialize with furries, or anywhere really, we’re doing so because we want to spend time with our friends and our community. Anything that requires a bit of extra mental effort—like noticing that we’re different from everyone else, or handling an unusual social experience—provides an extra ‘barrier to entry’: the experience is still fun for what it is, but has that added ‘work’.

  13. I’m a furry woman and I find this article kinda stupid.

    You don’t need to treat a woman like a fragile piece of glass that can crush with a little wind blow… We aren’t fairy tale’s princesses who can feel a pea through 10 mattresses.

    In my opinion, the main tip for getting a furry girlfriend is simply spend your time in knowing her. The most objectionable furry-male-behavior towards furry-females is that (In a lot of cases) when a male furry sees a furry girl, he jumps like a doggie convinced from first sight that she must be his soulmate just because she is a girl, she is hetero and she shares ONE hobbie with him (both of them are furries). Having one thing in common doesn’t means she’s been made for you, guys. The thing is that most furries (at least the ones I know) act that way with EVERY furry woman they know. Always. So, how do you think we feel? For us that behavior is a sign of despair… it looks like hetero furry boys just want a furry cunt, it doesn’t matter her personality, other hobbies… just the fact that she’s a woman and she is furry. A girl wants to be beloved and desired for herself, not just for being furry. And, of course, she won’t take you seriously if you have the same behavior of flirting with every other women in fandom… she’ll think that she is for you just “another one” and that you would be with anyone with those characteristics (female+furry). It looks like you don’t love her… you love the fact that she’s furry (see the difference?)

    Don’t look for a furry girlfriend: find friends (some of them female) and spend time talking with them, searching for things in common and for that glint that says you: “She’s the one”. Then you can start flirting her.

    And about the “saying-it-by-text” thing… please… don’t. The only thing you’re saying doing that is “I’m too coward for saying it personally”. It’s different if you’re away from each other and there’s no chance of saying it in a better way… at any rate, even calling by phone is better than writting it.

    I want to apologize if you find some wrong grammar or vocabulary… English is not my main language.

    I hope you find this comment reasonable ;)

  14. So, your article (and your following answers in the comment section) boils down to:

    – Don’t try to pick up women. They hate that. And preferring one gender makes you sexist.
    – Pick up guys instead. They love it, and they are in the majority anyways.

    Yeah, I know, you didn’t quite paint it as black & white, but that’s the gist of it as far as the consequences are, if someone were to actually follow your advice.

    Not only is that totally not helpful, and on the other hand, you’re not providing the slightest proof, or any kind of deduction where you are drawing your “wisdom” from.

    Please, englighten me :)

    1. Cheetah, I appreciate that your comments are reductive, but I think you’ve got it about right. It’s certainly fair to say that I am advising, if you are bisexual, that it’s okay to hit on men but not okay to hit on women. I’m aware that some men are going to find this a bit ridiculous, but hopefully I adequately explain my reasoning in the article (short version: the ‘getting hit on’ experience is different for women).

      My evidence is based on two sources:

      (1) Many formal and informal conversations with furry women in person and over email. I learned that a lot of women simply stay away from in-person furry groups because they are sick of unwelcome attention from male furs. Some women thought my advice is a bit OTT, and you can see that reflected in the comments here, but most felt I had it right.

      (2) The problems that women have in other male-dominated geeky groups, specifically sci-fi fandom and gaming communities. These groups are larger than furry but have similar problems. There are a few feminist blogs and podcasts and whatnot that have appeared in the past couple of years that look at the problem. I wanted to write something that would meet the standard of these intelligent, informed people.

      And I wanted to write something that wasn’t critical of the idea that a straight furry man would like to meet furry women. I don’t agree with your characterization of my article that ‘preferring one gender makes you sexist’. It’s intended as a thinkpiece for men who want to meet women, but don’t want to contribute to the problem.

  15. “And if you’re a guy, and you’re interested in a male friend? You can be more direct. The social dynamics are different: if he’s not interested, he’s much less likely to find it threatening or inappropriate”

    Sorry, but as a male I call bullshit on this one – I’ve found unwanted attention from other men to be *very* inappropriate. The dynamics are no different between gender. Unwanted contact is unwanted regardless of your chromosomes.

    As for the whole “Don’t approach Women”? Rubbish. Approach, but be courteous and polite and understand that if it’s made clear you’re not welcome, then leave. Don’t go wading in, trying to be “that guy” who can score a date with a cheap chatup line and inappropriate invasion of personal space. *THOSE* people are the problem, not good mannered heterosexuals.

    1. Hi Kyyanno, thanks for the comment.

      It is completely true that, if you’re a guy, unwelcome attention from men can be (very!) irritating. But it doesn’t compare with the problem faced by women, where the social situation can seem physically intimidating, regardless of the intent. The dynamics are different – very different – between the genders, even though the language and body language and intent may be identical. It is different for women, although I appreciate that this isn’t always clear from an observer’s point of view.

      Given that, I understand that you feel that it’s okay to approach women at a large furry gathering as long as you are ‘courteous and polite’. However many (but not all) furry women will disagree with you on this point. Many women would argue that those that consider themselves to be ‘good mannered heterosexuals’ are, indeed, the problem.

  16. in my opinion, you have a strange view on conventions. I am a regular con-goer… but I’m not only there to meet my friends – I am there to make new ones (and have done so in the past). Now you say, I should only talk to women I know already… so how to I become friends with woman? Not at all… what a shame. I actually don’t givce a damn whether a friend is male or female – I just don’t care.

    And though I’m not a female, I can’t understand your logic of “ignore women you don’t know – getting ignored is comfortable for them and makes them feel welcome and want to return”

    Also I’ve seen a lot (and had a few myself) of this “inappropriate behaviour” (lurking, comments, even touching)… you say it’s basically ok for guys. WHAT?! Don’t you think it’s awkward, embarrasing or even downright disgusting for guys as well? You know strange guys if this is based on your experience…

    1. Hi Tekumseh, thanks for the comment. My advice for becoming friends with more women is to become friends with more people in general. You’ll meet women naturally through friends-of-friends, and other avenues that don’t involve an unsolicited approach from a stranger.

      But otherwise I think you have it spot on. And I do think that men are often approached in a way that is inappropriate, or irritating, or ‘awkward, embarrasing or even downright disgusting’. It’s a problem that you and I, and probably most male furries out there, have experienced in one form or another. My point is simply that it is a much, much worse problem for women.

  17. I read this post soon after it went up and have been following the replies ever since. On first reading it came across as a good and informative article. But the more it was commented on and discussed, the more distressing I found it to be.

    Feeling awkward and having to overcome shyness have been problems for me all my life. I think I can hold up a conversation well when there is enough to keep talking about, but when we hit that awkward silence I’m terrible at coming up with something to keep it going. I’m terrible at small talk. I’m still interested in making friends, male and female, available or not, but it would be nice if now and then one of those female friendships led to something more. Unfortunately, I’m one of those proverbial ‘nice guys’, the ones that all the girls think would make a nice romantic partner for someone else but who just doesn’t light their fire. This is essentially the same thing as getting ‘friendzoned’.

    So essentially, what I’m doing now isn’t working. On occasion I’ve come across pages and sites that talk about ‘speed seduction’, which could almost be described as ‘how to make women fall for you by being an asshole’ and advocates doing things that I find too distasteful to want to try, but I read them anyway in case I might come away with a nugget of an idea for something that might work better. And I’ve thought about it and looked other places, trying to figure out what could I possibly do differently to change up my game and get different results, maybe once in a while a spark of something more than let’s just be friends.

    Along comes this article and I read it hoping to gain something new that might get me somewhere. I’ve read the comments and objections from people. Where I’m at so far is that the five steps outlined in the article are pretty close to what I’m already doing that’s NOT WORKING. And most everything I’ve thought about trying to do differently in the hopes of getting better results are the kinds of things this article is saying I should NOT do because it makes women feel too uncomfortable and threatened and makes them not want to attend furry events. In other words, it’s a lose-lose situation for me. Far from being helpful, this article has been very distressing for me and has added to my sense of hopelessness.

    1. Hi Mwalimu, thanks for the comment and thanks for your personal perspective. I have a lot of sympathy for your situation. There is nothing wrong with wanting a relationship, and unfortunately you are experiencing a problem felt my many men in our male-dominated community: a lack of women.

      You point out that you are a shy person, and that you’re not great at small talk. You’ve noticed that this has hindered your attempt to get to know more people within furry, male or female. The good news is that these can be improved. You can learn new techniques and skills that will manage your natural shyness, and will help you understand how to engage in small talk.

      The bad news is that these improvements will happen slowly, and over time. There is a tendency among all people to want a ‘quick fix’: fat people wish they were thin; shy people wish they were confident; poor people wish they were rich. This tendency is why “how to pick up women” articles are attractive – it’s the same reason why “one weird trick to get a six-pack” and “get rich quick” articles are attractive.

      In reality, we can improve, but it takes a bit of intelligence, application, and desire. It sounds to me like you have all the tools necessary. This is what I meant when I said “Work towards meeting your own emotional and social needs”, which I admit is a bit vague, but there is no one-size-fits all answer for self-improvement.

      In your case, why not try something like a google search for “small talk life hacks”? Or maybe take a browse through the self-help section of a bookstore? There are a lot of resources out there, and it’s okay to look for help: think of it as education.

  18. The headline looked like a joke… The approach and conclusions of the article make it seem that we’re reading advice from no experience whatsoever. (Like “Sex tips from a virgin”.)

    This isn’t a “pickup artist” comment. But if you have ever “picked up” a woman through furry fandom, (rather, made a friend or acquaintance that led to a relationship and/or casual sex, ): you have to know that the rule is- don’t be furry. You’re everything else that another person finds attractive- successful, charismatic, funny, etc… before a furry hobby. OK, furry is also an identity thing on some levels, mostly playful ones. That goes out the window when we take off the fun and fantasy suit and show the people underneath, and the lusts of their reptile brains- the same as any other people. If you’re “good at furry” or “very furry inside” it makes no difference to what makes people suitable for mating.

    Going on furry dating sites is a lousy proposition to even start with. The reason you’d find someone else there (if you’re gay) is because they’re the kind of person who’s starting with a lousy proposition too. Or they’re just very open minded and cheerfully promiscuous (mega-slutty, no judging,) and don’t have any standards about where they would look. Or they’re looking for a very particular kind of kink you won’t find in the general population. (Kinky fursuit fucking for fun is the biggest exception to this whole criticism.)

    Any article about furry dating should start with such a disclaimer… looking for dates or hookups in furry fandom is a paradoxical thing. Those who do it, would do it anywhere. Those who don’t, aren’t failing because their approach to furries is wrong. They’re just not good at it anywhere.

    The ratios of women to men above fail to account for: open relationships, women who sleep with many many men, and the way that 20% of the men will have 80% of the sex, same as the general population.

    Low percentage of women doesn’t = “scaring off women”. Among many loaded value judgements and false premises that sink this ship, that’s the biggest one. “Furry” is full of kids, lonely people and the socially awkward, gays and alternative identities, and most of all, fantasy-based… it does not exist because someone fenced out a limited space, and decided who’s in and who’s out. Nobody is being “scared off” or ostracized or harassed away. It’s the opposite. All you have to do is claim membership, and it welcomes anyone and everyone. And the anyones just happen to be a lot of guys for precisely the reasons the article dismisses- these guys have low status in society. Be it personality, or any other reason (social status certainly isn’t all about gender or class). Women are not at a disadvantage here. They’re just demographically fewer. Demographic numbers say nothing about power. That’s a fallacy.

    It’s the opposite of disadvantage, and as a result- even physically unattractive women are welcomed as “one of the guys” and equals. Physically attractive women hold social power here, while surrounded by low-status guys. As quickly as they are approached, so too can they quickly brush off unwanted attention like flies.

    The rest of the comments pretty thoroughly rebut the idea that women who receive attention are powerless to handle it.

    The last time I hooked up with a woman at a furry con, it went like this. I (male, furry) recognized her from a place I worked, where she was a customer. I had a fursuit on and it let me tease her with identity- I knew things about her but she couldn’t tell who I was. It was all conversation about things that aren’t furry, and she treated the teasing as funny. Funny was the “pickup”. Pretty soon we were joined by another guy fursuiter, who had some very mild sexual relations with me before, so I let him come along to the hotel room where she figured out who I was. Then we had a threesome. It was just for fun and I wasn’t there to pick up or have sex- I’m just an opportunist slut. The other fursuiter was. Later, over time, he tried to start a relationship with her. She wasn’t into it and cut contact. He ended up being all broken up about it and complaining he couldn’t get a relationship to save his life. Meanwhile, without pressure, her and I continue hooking up sometimes. I like her and treat her as a friend and don’t really ask, but I think she’s cute so I’m not saying no. It’s like that with some other open relationship furry women too. And they sleep with lots of furry men. I feel sorry for the other guy of the threesome- I think it’s because he’s approaching wrong AND approaching furry. (Chicken or egg?) I’d say every furry guy with bad luck is in the same boat.

    1. Anon, thanks for the comment, but… crikey. I don’t know where to start.

      I don’t think that you have any sexist intent, and I’m sure you would disagree very strongly if I implied that you are anything but someone who loves and respects women, the same way you love and respect men. But you have wheeled out a pile of hoary old sexist chestnuts.

      You are making an easy mistake. You are looking at the world from your own point of view, and you’re not considering that the experience of women might be different from the experience of men, and you’re not considering that your behaviour is exposing you to a self-selecting group of women. Look at it this way: you are only spending time with women that find you charming, or at least tolerable.

      You’re making the same mistake when you say “The rest of the comments pretty thoroughly rebut the idea that women who receive attention are powerless to handle it.” Firstly, people who disagree are the ones most likely to comment. Secondly, the women who have been scared off by the furry community at large are unlikely to pop up and expose themselves to more abuse, even here in the relatively staid pages of [adjective][species].

      You make a lot of statements that I could individually respond to, but I think the issue is more about your assumptions than your actual conclusions. You come across as ignorant, rather than deliberately harmful.

      I know those are strong words, and you probably feel like it’s a bit unfair of me to make them without a point-by-point rebuttal. On one hand, I’m a little wary of creating direct conflict in a comment thread. On the other, my argument is already made in the article.

      So thanks for taking the time to stop by and express your contrarian point of view.

  19. A very well-meaning and well-written article, but I have to agree with the majority of the commentors. As a relativley shy women who’s had to deal with creeps in the past, I find your advice pretty misguided. In a social setting like a con, simply introducing yourself is completely acceptable and not at all intrusive- it’s what happens afterwards that can make the difference between friendliness and harrassment. The person initiating conversation should be sensitive towards the other person’s response, both verbal and non-verbal. If they seem a little withdrawn or give a minimal, polite response, then leave it at that and be on your way. If they are happy, engaged and enthusiastic, this is a signal that they are comfortable talking. It is not, however, tacit permission to ask personal questions, comment on their appearance or ask for a phone number. There’s nothing wrong with extending an offer towards socialization, as long as you respect boundaries and accept rejection gracefully.

    1. Hi Glossi, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the kind and thoughtful comment. I’m sorry that you, like so many women, have experienced problems with creeps but I’m pleased that you’ve managed to deal with the issue without it overwhelming your own experience.

      Keep in mind that those women who are avoiding furry, or have been scared off completely, are much less likely to engage with sites like [adjective][species], and also less likely to write comments. The people commenting here are largely people, like yourself, who are happy enough with the status quo. The feedback I’ve had from women offline and in personal conversations (on Twitter and the like) has been very different.

      I think this is a problem where the solution is going to vary from person to person. It is certainly fair to criticize my advice for being too conservative, and I really appreciate those people who have taken the time to do so in an intelligent and engaging manner (as you have done, along with just about everyone else). I’m pleased that people recognize that furry has a problem, even if we don’t agree on the best solution.

      Hopefully this article will provoke more articles on the same topic on [a][s], and not just from me. Although I will certainly be following up on this one, once I’ve had a lot more conversations, given it more thought, and read more comments like yours.

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