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Lay Off the Furries, OK?

OK, I'm used to there being a backlash in science fiction fandom when any one subculture starts to get really visible, but I'm getting really tired of furry-bashing. Can everybody just lay off of the furries, for a while? Even on the rare occasions that you come up with something fair, something cute, something that hasn't been said to death, you're still flicking a nerve. Because what you're doing is having another joke at the expense of a group of people who aren't hurting anyone, and who've been fed a non-stop stream of abuse. And no matter how clever your retort is, it's being heaped on top of an awful lot of less cute retorts. And no matter how clever you think your retort is, the odds that you've come up with a new one are pretty low. I should know. I'm not even a furry, I'm just a guy who wears horns. And in case you haven't done so yet and were just waiting for the opportunity, let me tell you right now that you aren't going to be the first person to tell me that I "look horny." Nor the hundredth. Nor the thousandth. Maybe the ten thousandth I suppose, but I assure you I lost track a long time ago. That joke was only barely slightly clever the first time I heard it. By the end of the first day of wearing horns as my schtick, the joke was already tired. Now it just ticks me off. And if that's how I feel as an Infernal-American, as an American of infernal descent, I can't even imagine how your average furry gets through the day.

Anthropomorphics artists and their fans aren't hurting anyone. Yes, it's a somewhat tired artistic genre now, something of a cliche. But you can say that about a lot of things. But no, what's got you creeped out (if you are) is that you think that when an artist draws a sexy looking woman (or man) with an emotionally expressive tail, animal ears, and a face that has a perceptible muzzle, you think that what the artist is fantasizing about is bestiality, and you couldn't be more wrong. When talking animals, or any animals with human-like characteristics, appear in literature, anybody with any sense knows that we're no longer talking about animals. We're talking about human beings, where the animal shape (however represented) is used as a symbolism, as what Reed Waller called a shorthand, for their personality. In a culture that portrays bulls as forceful and brutal, a man drawn as bull-like isn't an animal, he's just a bullish human being. It's just a convention of comics, it doesn't mean anything. Once in a rare while, some artist or other takes the metaphor one step further, and uses the animal shapes to talk about non-human aliens. But still, when those characters fall in love or have sex, it doesn't mean that the artist is fantasizing about animal sex; then it's another representation of sex among sentient aliens. As such, it joins the long list of conventions and tools and symbols that science fiction writers have always used to talk about human experience.

So if you look at Fritz the Cat, or Albedo Anthropomorphics, or Omaha the Cat Dancer, or even Kevin and Kell and what you see is bestiality, the sickness is in you, not the artist.

Fursuiters aren't hurting anyone. Fursuiters pick an animal whose symbolism they like, and costume as an alien being with those characteristics. They dress up in a science fictional costume, make up a science fictional name, and go through a science fiction convention (or other event) insisting that you treat them as if they were their character. They're role playing. I remember when more SF fans did this, and I miss it terribly. You know, maybe the fursuiters wouldn't be so remarkable if there were more space pirates, jedis, elves, ninjas, wizards, androids, zombies, Vulcans, barbarians, Klingons, starship pilots, and bounty hunters running around, like we used to have in the old days. When I first attended my first science fiction convention over 20 years ago, it was explained to us newcomers that we didn't have to create a fannish persona to attend. But we did have to do so if we were going to ever be accepted as one of the cool kids. Then fannish persona and consistent hall costuming declined precipitously, and now only the fursuiters and the anime cosplayers still do it. Well you know what? That doesn't mean that they're sick and weird. It means that the rest of us suck.

Even the furverts aren't hurting anyone. When a fursuiter has sex with another fursuiter, it doesn't mean that they're fantasizing about yiffing a non-sentient animal. What it means is that they're fantasizing about (and more than that, doing fun stuff with) another real person who's incorporated traits that we project onto animals into his or her acted-out personality. When an anthropomorphics fan fantasizes about catgirls, it doesn't mean that he wants to yiff the family cat. It means that he wishes he could have sex with a woman whose personality reflected some of the traits that we project onto cats. In either of these cases, if you see this and see bestiality, then again I say that the sickness is in you, not them, because that's not what they see.

Even the plushies aren't necessarily hurting anyone. What's a plush? It's a sex toy in the shape of a stuffed animal. That may or may not be creepy, depending on why they're doing it. But whether or not it is, it's masturbation in the privacy of their own home, which is 100% abso-yiffing-lutely none of your business.

So lay off of the furries. There's no reason to hate them. No matter what Drunk and Bitter Jesus says. (wry grin)


( 259 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jul. 23rd, 2004 03:10 am (UTC)
People can't help it if they're neurotypical. (Really, follow the link if you haven't read isnt.autistics.org--it's a brilliant rant by an autistic guy applying the sort of pathologizing language commonly used about autistics to normals.)

I can hope that ranting at them as though it's a moral issue might change matters, and it could at least take some of the edge off.
Jul. 23rd, 2004 05:51 am (UTC)
Frankly Brad, I am not sure what you are talking about furry bashing. I really don't see it all that much, except maybe that episode of CSI. Sure there are people that get dressed up in diffrent way, sure it is a lot less in the past decade, but I don't see the bashing from fandom. Of course like anywhere we have small minded people with too much hot air. But hey we are a subculture of black sheep, most of us take what we hear from each other with a block of salt. At least I do. I love my friends in fandom, but there are allways problems everywhere. But I have never seen personally the act of speciesism (if that's a word) practiced at a con. Maybe I just don't see it.
Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Bashing?
Try wearing a tail or a furry-persona badge to a con, and wait for the skunk-fucker comments to start. 'specially if it IS a skunk. I've even seen BUTTONS for sale at cons saying 'First thing we do, is kill all the furries'.
It's easy not to see if it's not directed at you.

That said, this is a way cool piece. It's much better than most of the poorly written appologist stuff that we furry fen write about the subject, and it sounds better not comming from someone with a name like 'PrplPony' :)

You know what I say about a guy wearing horns? "Nice horns, what sort of adhesive are you using?"
Re: Bashing? - xydexx - Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Bashing? - melskunk - Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Bashing? - the_gneech - Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Bashing? - penh - Jul. 23rd, 2004 02:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Bashing? - dv_girl - Jul. 23rd, 2004 05:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Bashing? - just_the_ash - Jul. 24th, 2004 09:01 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Bashing? - kensan_oni - Aug. 26th, 2010 05:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Bashing? - altivo - Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Purple Pony! - xydexx - Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Bashing? - turbinerocks - Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Bashing? - foxhack - Jul. 24th, 2004 02:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 23rd, 2004 08:44 am (UTC)
Regarding the "looking horny" point, as a fellow Infernal-American, I share your pain. I may or may not wear my horns this coming Archon, but if I do, here's my plan:

I may print up and hand out little red business cards that say something like "Congratulations! You are the (Nth) person to joke that my horns make me look horny, during Archon 28. Keep up the good work. You might also consider the comic appeal of feigning confusion over the nature of buffalo wings, or of speculating what sort of prison-themed craft projects Martha Stewart may be working on. And don't forget that nobody ever gets tired of hearing people quote Monty Python." (Nth to be replaced with 1st, 2nd... 38th, etc.)

I don't know that this is necessarily a good idea, but it's a thought.
Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:41 pm (UTC)
I'm going to encourage you to hand out those cards. It's far too funny, and far too necessary with all the half-wits these days.

I mean, really. If they complain, point to the section that says "I'm an Infernal-American - what the hell do you expect?"

(no subject) - vakkotaur - Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bradhicks - Jul. 24th, 2004 04:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fuzzwolf - Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Infernal American Anti-Defamation League - bradhicks - Jul. 23rd, 2004 03:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Infernal American Anti-Defamation League - melskunk - Jul. 24th, 2004 09:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - edhyena - Jul. 24th, 2004 02:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - draik - Jul. 24th, 2004 08:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - doodlesthegreat - Jul. 24th, 2004 08:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_mcp - Jul. 25th, 2004 08:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 23rd, 2004 10:27 am (UTC)
Good Rant.
I get a little sick of defending my right to just have *friends* that are furries. I can't imagine being one. It's almost like an episode of Seinfield when I mentiong they're furries, "Not that there's anything wrong with that."

I find them to mostly be a fun group with some amazing costume skills. That stuff's *hard* to do with any amount of skill.

Jul. 24th, 2004 01:35 pm (UTC)
I had related problems. Some asses were slagging on me because they didn't like -my- friends. Said friends weren't furries but the principal is the same. The slaggers were just assholes.
(no subject) - nullcherri - Aug. 25th, 2004 01:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 23rd, 2004 11:34 am (UTC)
*wild applause*

I've been a furry fan since the late 1980's. The jokes were identical then. The only difference is, we now have sites like Something Awful and their peers who let the haters gather in pools like leprous sharks (whoops, that's anthropomorphizing... I must want to fuck a shark).
Jul. 24th, 2004 04:19 am (UTC)
I've been there with you.

I was one of those people a long while back who's site actually got /destroyed/ by the SA goons...perhaps you heard of the infamous Tom Foxx incident? yeah. that was me.
Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you, sir!

-The Gneech
Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:27 pm (UTC)
Very well-written and eloquently put.

*tiny clapping of paws*
Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:31 pm (UTC)
Hey, that's good. :)
Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, and "Infernal-American" is such a cool title...
Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:35 pm (UTC)
"It means that the rest of us suck."

*LAUGHS* Just so you know, that bit made me laugh quite a lot.

It's very true though. I'm not surprised they get so much flack, but in a sense, I am surprised that people have this overwhelming tendency to criticize people who are just plain having fun. I mean... white people did it to black people in the early 20th century. Jazz? What's that? Sounds like Satan to me. Straight people do it to gay people all the time (though its getting a bit better). And "normal" people do it to the sick, deviant, horrific, loveable, harmless, occasionally talented, occasionally wildly imaginative, poifect little group called ze furries.

Well, not really perfect, but think of this. Furries have to fight to accept themselves. In a sense, kind of like people who are homosexual or bisexual do in a hetero-oriented world. They have to overcome an obstacle that a lot of people don't - a lot of people just assume they are normal, that they fit the status quo, and that protects them enough for them to slide along. They don't often have to force themselves to review who they are, question what their humanity or orientation actually is worth, or really challenge much of anything to get where they are. That doesn't exist in every case, of course (I mean pigeon holing will get you nowhere in any situation), but when you see a furry gathering, or just a group of furries, or a furry couple together talking and sharing what they actually love, well... that's what it is. It's a love thing. They have a genuine affection for what they feel they are, or what these creatures symbolize to them in their life, what life allows them to do, and who they can share them with and be accepted by. It's such a gorgeous thing. Even a crude picture of a unicorn spraying her genitals with a shower head can be quite lovely, because, frankly, somebody likes it a lot. Even if it looks silly heh heh :)

I don't get why people don't support wide-angle diversity. These kind of cultures are a part of human evolution, and go figure that some people just won't accept the shift. What ever happened to enjoying change?

Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:49 pm (UTC)
"In a sense, kind of like people who are homosexual or bisexual do in a hetero-oriented world."

Or non-Christians in Bible-Belt America.

Many furs (myself included) are far from mainstream in a number of ways. No wonder we sometimes get a little neurotic. ;)

(no subject) - guilen - Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stilghar - Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lots42 - Jul. 24th, 2004 01:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kitsunetorn - Oct. 21st, 2004 08:38 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:38 pm (UTC)
Well said, and well worded.
Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:39 pm (UTC)
Indeed, a little defense from someone outside the furry community says far more than any of our most eloquent could offer in our behalf.

Of course, your realize that the worst furry-haters will simply label you as a closet-furry. I at least would want you to know that's really a compliment, coming from that particular source. :)
Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:50 pm (UTC)
I sincerely hope that your well-reasoned and insightful piece will help others understand better. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:57 pm (UTC)
Speaking as someone who used to slag furries, I think you've got a good point about the originality thing. It really just got dull. I suppose it's funny in an ignorant teen-aged Beavis and Butthead sort of way, except B&B had a team of writers and wasn't actually a pair of retards with a feeble grasp of the english language and a net connection. It's kind of disconcerting to wake up one day and realize, "Wow. I'm even lamer than the people I'm making fun of. At least they're doing what they enjoy and not just trying to make others as miserable as I am."

The interesting thing that your post doesn't seem to mention is this observation: Once you get past the initial weirdness factor, a pretty high percentage of them are pretty freakin' cool. Artists (even if they have a weird bent, there's some neat and fun stuff there) musicians, animators, programmers, and even funky tinkers that build automated laser tracking systems just to put on an outdoor lightshow. Besides, a little weirdness is fun. So count me in with the freakshow! It's way more fun than being a slack-jawed yokel in the audience!
Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:12 pm (UTC)
Don't forget game designers! ^__^
(no subject) - aeto - Jul. 23rd, 2004 03:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dv_girl - Jul. 23rd, 2004 05:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aeto - Jul. 23rd, 2004 06:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dv_girl - Jul. 23rd, 2004 07:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crocodile - Jul. 24th, 2004 10:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lots42 - Jul. 24th, 2004 01:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 23rd, 2004 12:59 pm (UTC)
People like you help to restore my faith in humanity. If people would just learn to actually think for themselves instead of unquestioningly accepting other people's opinions and biases as automatically justified, it would certainly be a less spiteful world.

Everyone assumes that furries don't have a sense of humor. Well, some don't, but a lot do. I can still laugh if someone makes a witty joke at our expense, if it's done with good humor. Humor with malicious intention isn't humor. It's hatred disgused as humor in order to make it seem more acceptable.

My thanks to you, sir. Please have children. The world needs more intelligent people.
Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:12 pm (UTC)

Just a thought. I've never heard a funnier compliment than "Please have children." That kicks ass :)

Think of the CHILDREN!!! - kukla_tko42 - Jul. 23rd, 2004 03:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Claps - moonstone_wind - Jul. 25th, 2004 03:28 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the good thoughts.

The problem, as I see it, is that folks like making jokes about us (nevermind we've heard them all before and, yeah, they're really tiresome at this point) and other folks join in and don't realize it's just a joke. Eventually, we end up with a bunch of folks who (either out of maliciousness or ignorance) think these lame jokes reflect reality.

We mentioned it to Trace Beaulieu once, and it disappointed him that folks would do that. He was a sci-fi fan in his pre-MST3K years, and knows how it feels to get mocked for liking something other folks think is "weird."
Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:09 pm (UTC)
Excellent piece of work, sir. These arguments will prove useful next time someone inevitably makes fun of furries on my usual forums.

And as far as those positive examples of furries go, you forgot to mention Frank from "Donnie Darko." ^-^;;
Oct. 20th, 2004 08:42 pm (UTC)
"Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?" ;)
Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:16 pm (UTC)
Kick ass! Yeah, I'm glad there's more people who point to all the costuming and the wacky and unabashed fun of having fan personas and such, and wonder why there isn't more of it. Furries are a great example of a DIY fandom, there's so many creative people, and the fandom provides a great support structure for what they want to do.

And my wife has some horns she got from goblinart.com and wears them at cons, so boy have we heard the "horny" joke a few times. 6.6
Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:24 pm (UTC)
*Bows to the textual eloquence!*
Well, I'm not so sure that's quite the word to use, but I suppose it'll have to do because I can't quite think up anything else at the moment. I came across this rant, which is more leaning towards and essay for the missinformed, through xydexx. I must say, you hit the nail on the head many times with your writings, and did a very good job of it.

Over the last ten years I've been involved in the 'furry' scene, either from a completely whacked out of my gord in frustration, or to simply goad the antagonistic folks, way of expressing myself.

After a while, like dv_girl said in her comment I woke up one day and realized that I was just as bad as the people I was pointing fingers at and bitching at as well! I crawled back into my hole and decided to just be a fur, and the rest of the world and other furs be damned. We're all the same whether we have fur, wear it, or pretend to be one or draw them. It's a family, and family stick together.

Occasionally I'll still poke a finger at people and other furs, just for a few kicks, but it's all in fun. I'll continue to be a fur, no matter what and keep my weird tastes in 3D animation, games, and other intrests at heart, while still prentending somewhere in the aether that I'm a Biomechanical Lupine from another dimension. ;)

Peace out, and thanks for the kinds words, and a get the hell off our back commentary.

Alan Kennedy, the GoldAnthroWolf known as TriGem Olandarinse.
Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:35 pm (UTC)
Unlike some, I'm not that eloquent with praise. So I'll just leave a simple
"PWNAGE!" and grin.
Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:37 pm (UTC)
I agree with you but disagree with the implication that it'd be wrong if they were fantasizing about bestiality. People need to separate fantasy and reality. Many people have fantasies about things that they have absolutely no desire to engage in in real life. I forget the statistic, but it's considered fairly common for women to have rape fantasies, yet real rape is disgusting and most of those women would hate it, possibly all of them.

The difference is that a fantasy generally polished up the icky bits or ignores them and focuses on some aspect. So, even if a person were fantasizing about having sex with a cat, it still wouldn't mean they have any desire to have sex with a cat. It also doesn't mean they wouldn't be disgusted if someone actually had sex with a cat.

And we should not ever be judging people by their fantasies, just by their actions.
Jul. 25th, 2004 12:10 am (UTC)
...frankly, I'm of the opinion that there's nothing inherently wrong with bestiality in the first place. Most vertebrates beyond the amphibian level are quite capable of demonstrating consent or the lack thereof, and beyond that what's left but personal preference?

Note that things like stuffing a live gerbil up your ass fall into a slightly different category; using animals as sex toys is not the same as having sex with animals. Issues of cruelty definitely arise there. But the same would be true of stuffing a strait-jacketed midget up your ass (non-consentually), y'know?
(no subject) - leora - Jul. 25th, 2004 06:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:38 pm (UTC)
(*applause applause applause!*)

Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:38 pm (UTC)
I prefer "Buddy Christ" anyway ::grin::

Seriously though, I found this article through my friends list and I'm certainly glad I did.

For a long time now I've only seen negative comments from non-furs, but lately that's changed a bit. Recently, one of the GOHs of this year's AnthroCon wrote a very nice review of the con and his experience. Here's the link, it's good reading.

It's nice to see another balanced view of our quirky little fandom from someone else on the outside looking in. I doubt your insightlful and well-written viewpoint will change the minds of the SA forum goons who enjoy trolling furry LJs here and there, but I still appreciate you writing this. Even one person understanding us a bit is worth it. I never understood how someone could waste so much time online bashing someone else's hobby. A hobby for pity's sake! :-P
Jul. 23rd, 2004 05:04 pm (UTC)
I have to ask, what is your Icon from?
(no subject) - fuzzwolf - Jul. 23rd, 2004 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lots42 - Jul. 24th, 2004 01:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:42 pm (UTC)
The thing people have to realize is a lot of people that act completely 'normal' around them have some unique obsession that they have in their free time. Its often weird for a hateful person to get to know someone and be friends with them before realizing that they are part of a group that the person hates.

Perhaps only barely related, but reminds me of one of my work friends that was going on about how he could always tell if guys were gay just by looking at him... while sitting at a table with two guys who were gay without him realizing it. He was only slightly embarassed, but hopefully learned to keep his mouth shut.
Jonathan Hughes
Jul. 7th, 2013 06:12 pm (UTC)
The hater changed unto not being a hater by beholding the gay furries who are humble and meek. That made the hater change to have a humble soul respecting who was near him. Artie the white arctic fox
Jul. 23rd, 2004 01:46 pm (UTC)
Well put! Bravo!
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( 259 comments — Leave a comment )