One of the neat things about identity is the fact that a shared identity can lead to a community.
This is the way furry works, after all. A bunch of folks all around the world started identifying with this thing. Maybe they identify as folks who see themselves as something other than human. Or maybe they identify as someone who really likes art of anthropomorphic animals. There’s a lot of different ways to approach the topic of anthropomorphics.
Getting a bunch of folks together with a shared identity takes a lot of organization. That is, unless you’ve got the internet.
Suddenly, we start to see a community cohere out of shared identity. It’s a strange attractor of sorts: folks who are outside furry but share that identity are drawn in, making the sense of community more appealing to those outside, yet still have the shared identity.
Similar things happen within the LGBT community. Parties, gay clubs, and pride parades are some of the most visible aspects of this, of course. Still, much the same happens with trans folk. There are whole houses and communities of trans people in the embodied world, and online, the community becomes even grander. We talk of the gender cascade or the transplosion, the idea of “the act of seeing in others that portion of identity we find within ourselves that lends the greatest validation to our membership”. Seeing others live happily embracing their identity makes it easier to embrace our own identity.
Now, come with me on a short diversion through furry fiction.
Guest post by Oxley. Oxley is a relatively new member of the fandom, having only been actively involved for a year–at the time this article was written, he hadn’t attended any conventions, but hopes to continue his work in this area at Midwest Furfest 2016. He is currently looking for feedback and other opinions on this article, and can be reached at his email.
The year is 2015, and marriage has finally been confirmed as a right for all Americans, whether gay, straight, or otherwise. Though the legislation has brought the queer community (sometimes referred to as MOGAI, or “Marginalized Orientations, Genders Alignments, and Intersex”) farther than it has ever been before in its fight for civil rights, talk of marriage now overshadows other important LGBTQ+ issues: many groups still find themselves marginalized and vulnerable in society. As the struggle slowly progresses, though, queer America has found both allies and enemies in the strangest of places. Individuals from some of the most conservative corners of politics have shown solidarity to the queer community, as have major corporations and brands. Nonetheless, their backing has often been motivated by political or economic gains—after all, in many places it would be considered political suicide to denounce marriage equality. Rather, various other communities and subcultures have often proven to be most readily and enthusiastically supportive of social progress. Countless YouTube stars have advocated for marriage equality or even used the site as a medium through which to come out, while common names in music have vehemently opposed restrictions on marriage.
Perhaps the most perplexing source of support for queerness in America, though, comes from the ever-controversial furry fandom. For years, furries have had intrinsic ties with the queer community, as only a minority within their numbers are straight. While furries as a whole have certainly never been a strong voice against equality regarding gender and sexuality, though, their advocacy of gay rights is nonetheless imperfect, and often detrimental to those who do not fit the more easily-recognized definitions of “queer”—that is to say, the transgender population. Still, observing a subcommunity as being a largely queer space offers a peculiar analysis of it, from an angle that is not often used. That said, the intersections between the queer community and the furry fandom provide a valuable insight into modern conventions of normativity, and the queer community’s interactions with society as a whole.
Continue reading Acceptance and Affurmation: Examining Queerness and Normativity Within the Furry Fandom→
Pornography tends towards extremes. Genitalia is emphasized and often over-sized; bodies are idealized; the sounds and smells of sex are either downplayed or overplayed.
Such distortions of the real world are both good and bad. They are good because it’s what people want, and people should be free to fantasize however they wish. They are bad because they set an unrealistic precedent for the real world. And so people enjoy consuming outlandish depictions of sex while often simultaneously feeling bad for personally failing to meet that unattainable standard.
The problem especially obvious when it comes to pornography that depicts women with penises, or men with vaginas*. These depictions are, give or take, of transgender people, and are usually wildly unrealistic. It’s bad enough that such pornography reinforces the tendency for transgender people to be thought of as biological curiosities, and worse that the terminology used to describe this pornography—d-girls and c-boys—is degrading.
This article is about the conflict between two competing demands. There is the libertarian demand for freedom to produce and describe pornography in a straightforward and useful fashion, and the humanitarian demand for transgender people to be treated in a respectful and reasonable fashion.
(And one quick warning before I go on: beyond this point I will be direct in my use of crude terminology.)
Continue reading D-Girls and C-Boys: Troublesome Terms in Furry Porn→
I don’t often read Reddit – the site and I get along fine, I just can’t seem to maintain interest in any subreddit for more than a few weeks – but I do occasionally find a good link or two when I wind up there. Most recently, I was trawling several different subreddits about gender and came across a set of delightful concepts that I think fit in well with the furry fandom.
It took Kara eight years to turn into a kitty and two years to die.
Kara is me – at least, an idealized me. This is what furries do, right? Create a persona and project ourselves and our story onto them. Let’s just say that Kara was a normal human student at a Liberal Arts College. There she turned into a five-foot-nine cat: white fur, pink nose, gorgeous yellow eyes that glittered in darkness. She fought adversity to learn how to be comfortable with her new form until, finally, the world rewarded her with acceptance. Parades, homecomings, and pats on the back surrounded her as she learned that being a cat was actually pretty cool.
I’d usually cook up some half-assed explanation of how Kara came to exist – magic, genes, interdimensional shifts, virtual reality, fables – but I won’t. Not today. You see, Kara doesn’t exist. Kara is a lie. Kara has always been and always will be a lie. A veil between me and honest, exposed, vulnerable storytelling. I’ve told Kara’s story so many times that the formula feels comfortable, like well-worn socks or my favorite shirt.
Kara was just a thin veil to protect myself from the truth of my life: a way to experiment with not-me before being not-me was okay to consider. Her ears catch imaginary sounds and the tug she feels at her tail comes from imaginary hands. Her life is carefully constructed to tell a single narrative: person A realizes they are no longer person A, learns how to be person B, and through some macguffin skips over all the heartache and pain of realization to become B. Great for stories, not so great in implementation.
It started innocuously enough with a tweet. I don’t remember the exact phrasing of it, but I had been having a rough day and was feeling the need for some sort of protective affection that I just couldn’t quite find offline; I’m rather tall and so it’s hard for me to find a way that’s comfortable for all parties involved to get that sensation of being held and protected. I think I wound up tweeting something silly to the effect of “I just want to curl up in a shirt pocket where it’s warm, cozy, and hidden.” I suppose I’ve always been a bit of a sap.
Like most things with far-reaching consequences, this start into the exploration of the “micro” side of the furry fandom had a seemingly inconsequential beginning. I’ve mentioned before that, after changing the ways in which I interacted online, several people treated me as though I were smaller than I really am (helped, no doubt, by the combination of text-only interaction and the lack of any specified height in my character description). With that trivial sentence, however, it suddenly became explicit, and before long I was interacting with those around me specifically as a tiny anthropomorphic fox.
Continue reading Trends Within Trends→
A few weeks ago, I contacted a few large conventions and asked about the gender of their attendees in the dealers den compared to the rest of the con. I wanted to include this in my recent article, Furry Women at Furry Conventions, to supplement the IARP’s focus group research.
I didn’t get any responses in time for my article, in part because most conventions don’t collect gender data. I finally have a single response. I’m not going to identify the convention, but it is one the ten biggest, with over 1000 attendees at the most recent event.
In general, we’ve suggested that furry isn’t a welcoming environment for many women. We are male-dominated, and we don’t always do enough to reduce or prevent deliberate or accidental sexist behaviour. Many women avoid socialising in large furry groups, and many others choose to stop associating with furry altogether.
We have presented a wide range of evidence that supports this point of view, all of it necessarily either indirectly inferred from Furry Survey data, or based on anecdotal evidence. This evidence is certainly good enough for the basis of discussion, but many furries felt we were either inventing a problem that doesn’t exist, or exaggerating the issue.
Last week, the IARP published some hard data. And it doesn’t make for nice reading.
Continue reading Furry Women at Furry Conventions→
Guest post by Witchie (@witchiebunny). Witchie is just, loyal, patient and true just like any other Hufflepuff. She also thinks way too much for her own good.
At the risk of sounding clichéd, please allow me to introduce myself: I am commonly known as Witchiebunny; artist, gamer, sometime podcaster and all around good-natured lapine.
I noticed a recent article here on [a][s] made reference to a post of mine on another blog from sometime ago. I addressed a conversation I found myself in whilst dealing with some comments I felt, and still do feel, were sexist.
For a bit of contextual framing: at the time I was a Fur Affinity admin using various communities, including Livejournal, as a way to stay in contact with users who did not generally get face-time with FA admins any other way. In the process of reading a post regarding a then fellow admin, I noticed a comment made about said colleague by a male, and gay, furry:
“Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that she goes on the warpath every 28 days or so?”
Continue reading Gay Furries and Sexism: A Recursive Loop→