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→
In 1974, the philosopher Thomas Nagel first asked “What is it like to be a bat?” Whilst originally an essay concerning the interaction between mind and body (and something highly worth reading for anybody with even a passing interest in the philosophy of mind), Nagel may have unintentionally left something important for the furry community to consider.
I’m not really sure how I wound up getting involved with the postfurry community. I mean, I can point to the moment that I found furry itself and how what went from a curious interest built into something decidedly more (a passion? an obsession?), but the same isn’t necessarily the case with postfurry. If I start tracing the lines backwards, rather a lot of them converge on one critter in particular, Indi.
Indi has been a friend for quite a while now, actually.Ve is most often seen around as a synthetic coyote-otter hybrid – a coyotter, or simply yotter – with glowy markings that range from cyan to blue to purple. Indi, being synthetic, along with ver gender identity, is the source of ver pronouns, ve/ver/vis.
I think I’ve known ver for about two or three years and we’ve connected on a lot of different levels, from our shared interest in mead and other tasty drinks, to our paths along the road to genderqueer identities that share many similarities. We’ve acted as part of a support network for each other with some frequency, and that, probably more than anything else, served as what passes for my entry point to postfurry.
We can be confident that furry must have its genesis in environment, not genetics, because furry is a modern phenomenon. It’s probably fair to guess that exposure to some aspect of culture during childhood is important, likely cartoon animals. Furry might well come about during adolescence, in transition from childhood to adulthood, as an artefact of certain childhood experiences.
This places furry as something which is first experienced, from a personal point of view, as a young teenager. This is the time we start high school, and learn about the social horrors that can lurk within if you don’t “fit in”. Furry would count, in most high school social hierarchies, as a Bad Thing, and therefore probably as something that requires management or concealment.
This makes furry a “concealable stigma”, a phrase sometimes applied to the condition of being LGBT. Someone with a concealable stigma has a different social experience: they learn to be careful about disclosure unless they are confident in the reaction they will receive. Someone with a concealable stigma may tend to be socially withdrawn, and simultaneously closely attuned to the reactions of others. These coping mechanisms can have a significant impact on decisions in adult life, including career choices.
Continue reading The Furry Identity & Career Choice→
In a recent article for [adjective][species], I wrote about a 2009 paper that presented an origin theory, of sorts, for furry. The author, Dr Anne Lawrence, proposes that furries (she uses the term “furverts”) are all plushophiles, that fursuiting (“fursuitism”) is a fetish activity, and that furry identity is an attempt to turn ourselves into the object of our supposed desire. We are, she concludes, autoplushophiles.
To put it simply, the paper is balls. I won’t rehash any of the reasons here, except to note that it is possibly the first peer-reviewed scientific paper in history to cite an episode of Entourage.
Yet Dr Lawrence’s paper uses an interesting approach. We here at [adjective][species] are interested in exploring furry, and while Dr Lawrence is factually wrong, the general idea—erotic target identity inversion, or ETII—is one that can provide useful guidance to the big question: why are we furries?
Continue reading Furries and Erotic Target Identity Inversion→
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.
The world shifts slightly when you plunge into a foamy fursuit head, and it takes your eyes a moment to adjust to the reduced light and the restricted vision. This is the moment you cross the threshold and become “in suit”. The effects are immediate.
Many fursuiters experience a feeling of relaxation when they enter suit. This feeling is a bit counter-intuitive to non-furries, there is sometimes a quick frown of suspicion when a suiter describes how suiting can be simultaneously physically taxing and mentally relieving. This suspicion is on par with that we feel when someone asserts that they “enjoy” some minor but fundamentally disagreeable task, like the person who has to wake up at 5:30am for work might say that they enjoy the crisp dawn air, and that they are more of a morning person anyway. It’s plausible but not very compelling.
The feeling of relaxation comes from the removal of social pressures. People start reacting to the suit and so the wearer can drop all the usual social defences: they can smile and frown and sweat and wave without worrying about the subtle ways that those acts might be interpreted. The suiter knows that people are reacting to the suit’s social cues, not those of the human being pulling the strings underneath.
Continue reading Identity and Biology: The Real and the Real→
You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly. Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.
– Mark Zuckerberg (http://venturebeat.com/2010/05/13/zuckerberg-privacy/)
Many furries choose to interact with the world using two or more identities. At the simplest level this might be a legal (“real”) identity and a furry (virtual) identity, and many furries maintain several more.
It’s a simple exercise, internally, to manage multiple identities. People typically see themselves as a background manipulator, with various outwards-facing facades depending on the context: work identity, furry identity, kink identity, and so forth. This compartmentalization is normal, and everyone—furry and non-furry—does it to a degree.
It’s less simple to keep outward-facing identities separate and discrete. For the most part, people are happy enough to allow their identities to leak into one another, such as when one’s co-workers meet one’s family. Problems occur when people want to keep some element of themselves private: perhaps their sexual behaviour, perhaps a hobby that is prone to misunderstanding… furry, for example.
Continue reading On Maintaining Multiple Identities→
Guest post by Thesis White. Thesis is a writer-artist, cognitive science student, and peachy dalmatian who loves creating their own discourse. (Thesis is on Twitter and FX.)
The furry identity is thought by many to be one of sexual and romantic liberation, where furs can engage in relationships with others, bound by a shared sense of playfulness and fetishism. Not all furries have exclusively romantic interests towards others within the fandom; I myself am mated with a non-fur. However, where there is much literature about sexuality and relationships in the furry world, it is outside of what I’m going to discuss. More interesting and dynamic than our sexuality is the uniquely furry distortions of gender.
The internet facilitates our ability to be furry. For most furries, furryness is an interest and a self-identification through a fursona, but to understand it, we must understand its origins. A legacy of human-animal hybrids throughout mythology and 20th-century fiction is behind us, and in our early years exists televised pictures of Bugs Bunny and Balto. Where originally the mythical monstrosities of human and animal were to be feared as gods and demons in the flesh, modern anthropomorphics are adored primarily by children in an intimate relationship between entertainer and audience.
What types of images did we see, though? Many furry cartoon characters weren’t physically sexed, but given gendered social roles. Disney’s fox, Robin Hood, wore no pants and was explicitly physically androgynous, but still played the role of the masculine hero and saved the princess from the horrid King Richard. As we move into adulthood and gain entrance to a mature furry community, we see both sexed and non-sexed furs. As we reach puberty and onward, we discover that our furry personas can serve a sexuality and character that we adopt to explore ourselves and our interests.
Continue reading The Uniquely Furry Distortions of Gender→