With Gamergate’s rabid sexism gaining traction in mainstream media, this seems like a good opportunity to review how we furries are doing. We have demographic similarities with gamer groups—we’re geeky and male-dominated with a heavy online presence—and, like gamer groups, we have had issues with sexism.
Any serious journalistic attempt to understand Gamergate, a loose banner for a small but loud group, inevitably starts with “it’s complicated”. After all, how can a small group of people ostensibly worried about ethics in game journalism end up earning a reputation for vile harassment of women? The short answer seems to be that there is an undercurrent of sexism within gaming, and that internet flamewars and clusterfucks over journalistic integrity have, for one reason or another, managed to attract a extreme misogynistic subset of the larger group.
(To put it another way: we know that geeky groups are precious about the art that inspires their fandom. Gamers concerned about changes in their community can be expected to react much like, say, serious Star Wars fans reacting over the sale of Star Wars IP to Disney. There is nothing wrong with intense advocacy against change, but there is a serious problem if this devolves into harassment and rape threats.)
Furry’s problems are similar in style to Gamergate. The most obvious touchstone is the drama that began in late 2010, when a prominent male artist was accused of sexual assault by initially one woman, and eventually several. The women involved were subjected to abuse that was similar in tone and style to the targets of Gamergate.
It is probably fair to say that misogyny within furry isn’t as extreme or widespread as it is within Gamergate. However we certainly have a problem, something we here at [adjective][species] have written about, on several occasions.
The most common response to the suggestion that furry is sexist? Denial. This is a natural reaction for anyone who has never personally experienced or noticed any sexism. It is also natural to see an accusation of sexism as an attack on furry, and so it’s natural to be defensive.
In the writing below there are several concrete examples of sexism, including review of a scientific study that demonstrates that women experience sexist behaviour within furry. I encourage you to read (if you haven’t already), digest, and share.
Furry’s sexism is largely a product of our demographics. We are around 80% male, and that affects the way we collectively respond to the world around us. Furry culture naturally reflects who we are, and we will naturally give more regard to things that are more important to more people.
So while it is right to say that furry is a sexist culture, it is not right to say that furries, themselves, are sexist. (Although some certainly are.) Sexism is part of our cultural wallpaper, always there but largely unseen. Here at [a][s], we are trying to draw attention to this, because we love furry and we want it to improve.
We have published several articles that explore aspects of furry and sexism in detail:
Eight-Twenty, by Makyo: an introduction to furry’s skewed demographics and the anatomy of inherent sexism.
A Bitch About Furry, by JM: an exploration of sexist language common in furry.
How to Pick Up (Furry) Women, by JM: for single heterosexual and bisexual men, how to get to know furry women in a respectful way.
Dogpatch Press on Women, by JM: a look at an egregiously sexist but well-meaning article published elsewhere.
Gay Furries and Sexism: A Recursive Loop, by WitchieBunny: how the preponderance of gay furries leads to reinforcement of misogyny.
Furry Women at Furry Conventions, by JM: hard data demonstrating the challenges that women uniquely face in furry environments.