Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Truth About Furries

Furries... The wild, sexual deviants of Second Life or innocent victims of rumor and prejudice?

I went to the Second Life Wikia for their definition of Furry:

"A furry or "anthro" (short for anthropomorphism) is an avatar that has both human and animal qualities. An example is a fox that has five fingers and walks on two legs in a bipedal fashion. In Second Life, "furry" avatars are those which use prim attachments to reflect upon a certain animal or mythical creature while keeping the basic humanoid framework."

Sounds innocent enough.

One of my past relationships was with a knuckle dragging neanderthal who boasted himself to be both biker and scripter, neither of which turned out to be true.. but that's another story entirely.. who had a deep hatred for Furries. He'd often arrive in a cloud of dramatic particles, his hat pulled down over his face, weilding a spear adorned with the bloody head of a newbie Furry avatar.

Needless to say, the relationship didn't last long. I do have my limits.

Since then, I've encountered more than a few people with strong opinions about Furries, but when I questioned their motives, I couldn't get a straight answer other than "perverts."

I decided to take my question to the infohubs and see what I could find out. My first stop was Moose Beach.

Mahala Roviana: anoyone here willng to answer a few questions about Furries for my blog?

Mona Chronowire: Ask away Mahala

Mahala Roviana: Okay Mona.. would you date a furry?

Mona Chronowire: Sure - why not.

Mahala Roviana: Alot of ppl seem to have strong opinions about Furries in Sl, I'm just trying to find out why

Mona Chronowire: For the record though -- I'm a shape shifter on another ALT...

Mona Chronowire: so I'm a Furry from time to time myself.

Mahala Roviana: oh coolness :)

Mona Chronowire: I do not Yiff

Mona Chronowire: though.

Mahala Roviana: do you think that's what most people seem to focus on?

Mona Chronowire: could be. Most of the furries I know -- few if any do that - that I am aware of.

Mahala Roviana: I've heard it, but I'm not sure what it means. Can you explain "Yiff" in PG terms?

Mona Chronowire: Sexual intercourse....but more like an orgy.

Mona Chronowire: was that PG?

I'd heard the term "Yiff" in some circles, spotted the word on some search pages. I didn't have a clue what it actually meant. My imagination ran wild with descriptions of bodily fluids, awkward positions, inanimate objects.
My imagination is a scary place.

Regardless, I had a hard time believing "Yiff" was simply a euphanism for Furry sex.

I turned to the Wikipedia description:
"The term "yiff" is most commonly used to indicate sexual activity or sexual material within the fandom—this applies to sexual activity and interaction within the subculture" and according to other sources, it is derived from the sound made my mating artic foxes.

Is that all? Apparently my imagination is way more perverted than actual Furries.

I decided to dig a little further and made my way to Hyles, where I presented the same question:

Mahala Roviana: I'm doing a blog story and I'm trying to find out why they're so disliked

Poot Dibou: who are disliked?

Mahala Roviana: Furries

Poot Dibou: are they?

Mahala Roviana: it's been my experience..

Poot Dibou: isnt it just like disliking transvestives, or any one who doesn't conform to the norm?

Mahala Roviana: I don't know, that's what I'm trying to find out

Poot Dibou: how?

Mahala Roviana: there used to be a guy at my old hub who walked around with a furry head on a spike

Poot Dibou: if you ask people directly, how will you know they are being honest?

Mahala Roviana: and many acted as if that were acceptable

Poot Dibou: I suspect they will not reveal their true feelings

Poot Dibou: there seems to be a myth that furries = sexual pervert

Poot Dibou: and also that child av = sexual pervert

Mahala Roviana: I guess then one has to define what is perverted

Poot Dibou: but if the myth is being propogated by non-furries, non-child ONLY because they dont understand it

Poot Dibou: then this is why they are unliked

Mahala Roviana: that makes sense

Name Withheld: Hello

Poot Dibou: (Name withheld), hey, do you consider yourself a furry?

Mahala Roviana: Hi (name withheld) :)

Name Withheld: kind of

Poot Dibou: I just arrived a min ago and heard Mahala say she was researching why people hate Furries here

Poot Dibou: I said I reckoned it was because they're equated with sexual perverts, as child avs are

Poot Dibou: and that people don't like 'un'normal things, such as transvertites

Name Withheld: yeah, I think it's because of the sexual things. A lot of furries are into that

Poot Dibou: but is it most?

Poot Dibou: is being furry like wearing a badge to say "I'm available"?

Name Withheld: I think most are either sexually active in SL or look at furry porn.

Poot Dibou: FURRY PORN?!

Mahala Roviana giggles

Name Withheld: yeah, drawings

Poot Dibou: okay, so they ARE perverts, then

Poot Dibou: maybe deserve head on stick, Mah?

Poot Dibou: :-)

After my visits to the infohubs, I decided that maybe there really wasn't anything to this big Furry mystery at all. I know I've heard that the Furry culture was more accepting to alternative lifestyles and that there are strong ties to the Gay and Lesbian community. Could that be the basis for all the Furry bashing in Second Life?

I stopped by Luskwood to find out for myself. Prepared to face piles of fur engaged in deviant sexual acts, human sacrifice and baby eating, instead I found a nice group of indviduals, discussing the evenings dinner plans. The wildest thing I witnessed was a recipe involving Skittles, vodka and a Mason jar.

I'm sure there are Furries out there participating in carnal acts that would make your Grandma's toenails curl, but I'm just as sure that if you wander the grid long enough, you'll find just as much, if not more, raunchy nookie action performed by human avatars.

We have to stop jumping to conclusions, passing judgement on individuals based on outward appearances.

In both worlds.


Kabaka said...

Wait a minute.

"We have to stop jumping to conclusions, passing judgement on individuals based on outward appearances."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the whole point of dressing up like a bunny is so that people will judge you based on outward appearance?

I know it's certainly why I have huge pecs and incredibly sexy tattoos ;)

Anonymous said...

Anyone who'd play a furry, a child, or have an SL baby with an SL pregnancy has got to be a freak.
Name withheld to prevent repurcussions

Yordie Sands said...

I never understood why furries are considered outcasts, but always felt it was a clash of cultures. That is, furries have more unconventional ideas of what they want their fantasy life to be, and the rest of us want our fantasies to revolve around the conventional.

The unusual sexual behavior you have revealed is a bit of a surprise to me.

Laura said...

Name withheld to prevent repurcussions [sic]

Or accountability, more like...

The way I see it, we're all in SL to be what we want to be, to be viewed the way we want to be viewed. "Your World, Your Imagination" right?

I'm afraid your plain, boring truth is unfortunately going to be pearls before proverbial swine (like the commenter "name withheld"). Titilating fiction is always more entertaining, especially to the small-minded.

Dale Innis said...

Yeah, furries are nice people in general; since they're unusual themselves they tend to have more tolerance for other unusual people. The tendency to say "anyone who would play [something harmless] has got to be a freak" is the same tendency that leads to other forms of intolerance and hatred.

The whole "bestiality" thing would be funny if it weren't so mean. What makes beastiality icky is that it's sex between a person and an animal that can't understand. But furries are people, and they do understand. Or at least I don't know of any furries who go around on all fours and make only animal noises. :)

Some people just need a group to hate to make themselves feel important. Since it's so socially unacceptable to hate people because of skin color or religion, they're picking on furries instead. But like any other kind of bigot, they're sad, sad people.

Moggs Oceanlane said...

*applauds* I never get people making judgement based on race, age or one aspect of a person - it's just dumb, people are so much more. In the virtual world, making judgements based on appearance and race is just that little bit more stupid.

Anonymous said...

smiles and applauds too also! Dale and Moggs and your post really say it so very very well. It's a bit mindboggling to think that in a world that encourages us to create new societal constructs some can't seem to get away from sweepingly destructive (down right unhealthy) FL labelling and compartmentalizing. I love how you explored this topic. I too have often wondered about the knee-jerk, mean spirited reaction to furries and have never heard a good reason for it.

Anonymous said...

smiles and applauds too also! Dale and Moggs and your post really say it so very very well. It's a bit mindboggling to think that in a world that encourages us to create new societal constructs some can't seem to get away from sweepingly destructive (down right unhealthy) FL labelling and compartmentalizing. I love how you explored this topic. I too have often wondered about the knee-jerk, mean spirited reaction to furries and have never heard a good reason for it.

Kabaka said...

Some of you are out of your minds.

Sure, it's wrong to judge people based on Race, Age, or things that they have no control over. But how about clothing, hairstyle, or that bolt you wear in your lip?

Isn't the entire point of our choosing those outward appearance aspects so that people WILL judge us according to them?

So please, spare me. If you wear a tie and nice shoes to the office, or if you wear jeans and an Ozzy T-shirt, I will be judging you.

Dale Innis said...

I think people are recommending against judging people by their looks in directions that those looks don't actually rationally imply. Like judging that anyone who dresses differently than you'd expect must be dangerous or immoral or whatever.

It's perfectly okay to judge someone by their looks or their actions if those looks are actions actually have a rational connection to the judgement. I might for instance form certain opinions about someone who starts a weblog comment with "Some of you are out of your minds". :) And that would be okay.

Kabaka said...

Exactly :)

We humans are a very judgemental species -- it's a feature, not a bug.

Furries may not be so judgemental... and one of the ways they show it is by dressing up as cute critters and hanging away from us "skinnies". That way, when we see them, we can immediately make a judgement call: "Oh look, its another one of those cuddly non-judgemental puppies!"

Dale Innis said...

Welll... I don't think the tendency to irrational snap judgements is all that good a feature, really. It was a hack, like pretty much everything that evolves.

Furries as a culture are pretty tolerant (as far as I can tell, the main reason they avoid non-furries, to the extent that they do, is that they've been the target of so much undeserved pestering by idiots). But concluding that any individual fur that you encounter on the grid must be cuddly and nonjudgemental would be an error (especially considering the many fur subcultures that are very fond of weapons of various kinds). :)

Of course "cuddly and nonjudgemental" is a relatively benign conclusion to jump to. What's really bad is when someone sees that someone else belongs to some group, and concludes that they must be evil or stupid or inferior or dangerous. Like our anonymous friend up there. Those are the kinds of conclusions that it's really poisonous to jump to, as good as it might feel at the time...

Kabaka said...

Read McDowell's "Blink". Definetely a feature, not a bug.

Dale Innis said...

I have. It was okay. Quite anecdotal, but they were fun anecdotes. :) It's a feature, but one that often works poorly; one of the points that comes out in the book is that some of our "blink" judgements are surprisingly accurate, and some aren't. (One thing that I thought was lacking in the book, in fact, is that he didn't try to go beyond the anecdotes, into any kind of conclusion about when they work well and when they don't.)

Lalo Telling said...

Synchronicity rides again!

I am (obviously) a furry, and just yesterday brought my blog out from a furry social network at into public view. I added a link to this one as a comment here.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
@Kabaka: Some people I know, or have seen -- not only furries! -- chose their appearance in deliberate defiance of others' judgments (Goths and vamps, for example). Still others don't give a flying carpet -- "I am able to look any way I want, so why not?"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I have a short tale about how I forestalled a fur-hater from griefing Luskwood... I guess I'll be blogging that soon, too.

Kabaka said...

Lalo, I don't disagree in the least. Most of the furries I've know are extreme non-conformists (and that's not a bad thing) and chose their fur to reflect that fact.

Therefore I can safely judge most furries (or, the Furry community in general) as one of non-conformism.

Unlike vampires, which are all alike and only out for one thing. :P

Kabaka said...

Dale, thanks for the response -- not at all suprised that you've already read Blink.

Sure, "often wrong", but that's not the same thing as "generally and suprisingly accurate". All generalizations can be disproven by a single anecdotal exception.

Still, while not 100% accurate, generalizations about appearance tend to be far better than 50/50, simply because most appearances are chose for a reason -- with the full knowledge that people can and will make judgements based on them.

Face it -- stereotypes don't evolve in a vacuum. Sure, there are exceptions, but usually 10% or less.

Lalo Telling said...

Warping this discussion back around to Mahala's initial topic: i.e., hating furries due to stereotyping them as pervs. First of all, not everyone who wears a furry avatar in SL identifies as "furry" in the rest of their life (I count myself as one of those). Second, while I cannot possibly meet every SL fur who exists to personally verify this (and violate their privacy while doing so), it is my firm opinion that the stereotype in question results from [a] ignorance among non-furs generally, and [b] sensationalism in the media (both entertainment and "news"), about [c] the behavior of 10% or less, not 90%.

That said: I'm also confident that at least 90% of non-furs in SL -- a.k.a. humans -- harbor no ill will toward their furry cousins. Furry sims would be griefed a lot more often than they already are, were that the case.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate all of the input this topic has generated, especially I am a Furry, although I personally prefer the term Anthro to furry as I represent something different from a bipedal animal. I represent that which is considered a hybrid. When I first joined, the clubs I tended to stay at were the furry night clubs. It was not until later that I rethought myself and became involved with some of the science-fiction RP communities, like Splintered Rock and Al-Raqis. I am one of the few anthros to frequent these sims and it is in my experience that, since I have tits and where clothing that reflects a certain noble status that I am very well received. There are other members of the Furry Fandom who are active in the same communities and tend to represent the unknown portion of Furries. They, like me, tend to focus on the roleplay more than seeking out someone to yiff. There are quite a few who excel within the community and bring something new to the table. As has been deduced by the previous commentors, Furries and Anthros are no more odd than the rest of you. In fact there are some furries who resent the presence of 'pinkies' or 'fleshies' these being the terms that I have come across which are used in reference to non-furrs. Nous sommes comme vous, comme vous êtes comme nous. And I should perhaps mention that not all of us furs represent something cute and harmless. Many of us, like myself, have created background stories that are as dark and twisted as the original writings of the Brothers Grimm.

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