What are Furries?
Image source: Douglas Muth Anthrocon 2010
According to the dictionary, a furry is a person with great interest in anthropomorphized animals ( with human attributes). Simply put furries are people who enjoy dressing up in giant animal mascot costumes. Furries often act like the animals they identify with and believe they are spiritually and mentally connected to the said animal. Typically, furries will go for fictional characters like Bugs Bunny, Pokémon, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mickey Mouse, and other known characters, but sometimes they create their own personal and unique furry animal that best represents their personality.
Furries consider themselves similar to any other fandom, the same way Star Wars, Game of Thrones, or Avengers fans see themselves. Though the media always focuses on the sexual aspect of this subculture, those who are into it say there’s more to it than sex and porn. The furry fandom consists of those who are fans of furry-themed video games, TV shows, furry related music, fan art, and of course the sex and pornographic adepts who seem to be getting all the attention.
Every year in late June more than 6,000 furries come together in Pittsburgh for Anthrocon, the biggest furry convention in the U.S. Fans across the entire spectrum of the culture convene to share in everything fur-related. Dr. Courtney Plante, a social psychologist at the University of Waterloo who researches Anthropomorphic groups says "It has its origins in the science fiction fandom," it is the same as comic book enthusiasts, baseball or football fans. To find out more about furries, here are some of the frequently asked questions:
What do Furries Actually do?
Image source: wikipedia.org/ creative commons
Like fans in other communities, furries have quite a large number of activities they indulge in, from furry conventions to fan art, furry-related music, discussion forums, watching cartoons, and taking part in community-building activities. Most furries have either been bullied or misunderstood in the past as a result of their preferences, so they see furry events as a safe space where they can be themselves without judgment as well as interact with like-minded people.
There’s really no difference between a furry convention and Comic-Con for example, those who attend get to hang out with their favorite artists, play video games, draw, meet new people who share the same passion for all things fur, have fan discussions, talk to those who do the voice-over of their favorite characters on TV and all the usual stuff comic book and sci-fi fans normally do when they come together.
Mainstream media has contributed to the general misconception that being a furry is all about having sex and obtaining sexual gratification from wearing fursuits and mascot costumes. But most furries say this belief mischaracterizes them and the things they stand for. For them, it is more about art and self-expression rather than sex and fetish. Like other fandoms, furries manifest their interest in a variety of ways: drawing or commissioning furry-themed artwork, playing furry-themed video games, music, costuming, and coming together with others who share similar interests.
Is ‘’furry’’ a sexual fetish?
image source: Montreal comic con 2016 - wikipedia.org/creative commons
There’s no denying that the furry subculture has a kinky side that involves swinger parties, fetish, and sexual activities which they call ‘‘yiffing’’, (because of the animal noises they make during sex). However, this is only about 20% of what the fandom is about. Most furries maintain a non-erotic interest in the culture. The vast majority of furries consider their fur-suits a prized possession and will never consider doing anything that might damage it, even having sex in it. So, NO! furries do not have sex with their furs on.
However, there’s such a thing as furry porn which is very popular within this fandom. A survey at Furry Fiesta 2013 revealed that 96.3 percent of male furries and 78.3 percent of female ones often viewed furry pornography. Men reported looking at furry porn 41.5 times per month on average, while women reported looking 10.5 times per month. And while many furries are straight, some are part of the LGBTQ community, the majority of them though, are somewhere in between. This means they’re neither straight nor gay, they prefer not to be labeled but society will call them bi-sexual.
What is a Fursona?
While some furries identify with fictional characters like Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Pokemon, a vast majority of furries prefer to create their own furry avatar which in furry lingo is known as a ‘’Fursona’’. A furry will mimic the attributes of his/her fursona, interact with other furries through their chosen fursona, and create new versions of their personalities that fit their fursona. Sometimes a fursona could consist of attributes from more than one animal.
Fursonas are not bound by reality, you could choose to be a furry flying cow, no one really cares. Over time, furries tend to internalize the personality of their fursona and start to manifest said attributes in real life. The furry fandom is a fantasy world where each individual is free to create whatever best represents his/her self.
According to Dr. Courtney Plante, about 97% of furries have fursonas which makes it a very important aspect of the Anthropomorphic culture. To have a fursona, you have to pick a real or mythical animal that best represents you or create your own animal which could be a cross-breed between 2 or more animals or completely fictional. Give it a name, design a costume for it, and present yourself to people.
Do furries think they're animals?
source: Singapore furs- Wikipedia.org/creative commons
There’s no one size fits all answer to this question, furries have a wide spectrum of beliefs when it comes to the relationship with their furs. About 1 in3 furry report not feeling completely human ( mentally and in their spirit). Equally, about 53% of furries say if they could they will prefer to be an animal instead of a human. Those who identify as non-human in their spirit often believe they have a spirit animal which could be a real animal such as a wolf or a lion, while others gravitate towards mythical animals like the dragon.
The remaining 2 out of 3 consider themselves fully human and very much enjoy all their human attributes like talking, walking, having a regular job, etc but also find gratification in putting on a fur costume every now and then to meet people who share their love for furry characters and furry related activities.
What kind of people are furries?
source: wikipedia/creative commons
It might interest you to know that furries are normal people like you and me, the general conception is that if a person finds gratification wearing a fur-suit and acting as a fictional character they are either crazy or dysfunctional in some way but that’s not true, it’s simply a misconception. Furries are normal people from every walk of life, at most, they could be a little nerdy but that’s also the case with Sci-fi and fan fiction adepts.
Statistics collected over the last few years at conventions and online forums suggest that 79.2% of furries are male, white, in their mid 20’s and disproportionately gay, bi, or transgender. They are neither richer nor poorer than the average American and do not belong to a specific social class. In other words, your next-door neighbor or co-worker sitting next to you at the office could be a furry.
source: wikipedia/creative commons
Furries create their own fantasy world with no restrictions, they accept everybody for whoever or whatever they are. Dragons co-exist with all sorts of hybrid animals, domestic and wild, fictional and real characters. No one will judge you for being a pink cat or identifying as a blue elephant.
The fandom is all-inclusive and gives all furries room for self-expression without fear of judgment, something the real world can never offer. And at the end of the day being able to show yourself for who you are and be accepted for it no questions asked is what we all want, which makes the idea of running around in a fursuit is not so far fetched after all.