February 21, 2015

"Almost all furries have a fursona, but only a small proportion wear a fur suit. Many furries feel that, in everyday life, we are all forced to adopt personas..."

"... their fursona allows them to be their true selves. The one message that was consistent across my conversations was that each member of the community felt they had something that made them different and ill fitting in mainstream society, such as Asperger syndrome or a facial tic. The fandom gave them a safe venue in which to express themselves.... Furries are well aware that the public perceives their community and lifestyle as primarily motivated by sex. From my conversations that day, I got the sense that there are layers behind the decision to become a furry, and that sex and furry pornography are only one aspect of their lifestyle... [E]veryone was too busy making new friends and having fun."

Fron "A Peek Inside a Furry Convention," from a letter sent by Debra W. Soh to the Archives of Sexual Behavior, published in the February issue of Harper's Magazine under the title "Below the Pelt." You need a subscription to Harper's for the link to work).

A question I have about this (and about some similar things) is whether we are grouping together people who belong in 3 different categories: 1. Those who want to have fun and are just playing, 2. Those who are mentally disordered and hurling themselves toward greater chaos and feelings of turbulence, and 3. Those who only want to feel normal.

52 comments:

John Lynch said...

Oh. Althouse discovers furries.

Mika Brzezinski found out, and ran!

Michael The Magnificent said...

They share the same problem as the gender-confused: Too many freaks, not enough circuses.

William said...

The costumes look far more cosy and comfortable than all that black leather BDSM gear, at least in the winter. Probably cheaper too. Maybe I've been a latent furry all my life and that explains why my sex life has always been so unfulfilling......Nothing against people of fur, but is this more a fad than a true perversion?

Ann Althouse said...

"Oh. Althouse discovers furries."

No, that's not the point of this post. This is a well-known form of behavior and I'm not presenting it as news. See if you can discern why I posted this.

jr565 said...

Flurries are no different than transgendered in thinking there artificial persona is really their true self.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm interested in the psychology that Soh felt that she discovered, particularly as it relates to the 3 categories I'm positing.

I think those 3 categories apply to a lot of things that we are not looking at carefully enough. It's something I saw in the Wisconsin protesters, for example. I think it relates to the whole "transgender" issue as well. It applied to the hippie movement.

jr565 said...

Remember the old movie The Ruling Class starring Peter O'Toole? First he thought that he was Jesus Christ. Then they cure him of his delusion, and he thinks he's Jack the Ripper. Crazy is crazy.
If you think you're really a furry and your persona is that you are a person, then you are a nut job.

bbkingfish said...

Yes. Sort of like living in the general population, except occasionally you get to pretend you're a college mascot.

madAsHell said...

A question I have about this (and about some similar things) is whether we are grouping together people who belong in 3 different categories

My favorite flavor of masturbation is....

Next up, protected class status for furries!!

jr565 said...

"A question I have about this (and about some similar things) is whether we are grouping together people who belong in 3 different categories: 1. Those who want to have fun and are just playing, 2. Those who are mentally disordered and hurling themselves toward greater chaos and feelings of turbulence, and 3. Those who only want to feel normal."
Only the first one is not a mark of a crazy person. If you want to dress up and do cosplay, more power to you. But if you think you need to be something other than what you are to feel normal, Humans are not flurries. There is no such thing as a furry in nature. Then its simply an artificial persona.
How could you be something that doesn't exist? Thats a norm?

jr565 said...

If flurries is an identity can companies be held accountable if they force flurries to not wear their outfits to work?

Peggy Coffey said...

This is exactly like the people that want to change their gender. It doesn't change the basic DNA of a male or female. You are just wearing a different costume. But I don't think the furries actually think they are squirrels or foxes, whereas the gender confused actually think they are the different gender. Who is crazy here?

madAsHell said...

When you start discussing such madness, and finding distinctions in the class, then you are automatically giving it legitimacy.

It's just a different way to spank-the-monkey. It doesn't deserve any discussion.

Laslo Spatula said...

When they are safe in the distancing effect of their furry suit they can feel emboldened to pursue things that would be too embarrassing with exposed face. This basically boils down to anal sex. Of course.

I am Laslo.

Anonymous said...

Ha!! When she asked "See if you can discern why I posted this" I mentally answered to myself "Because Ann is going to find a way to link the furries to the Walker protesters"

And sure enough, later in the thread, she says that is her intention! Predictable as always.

Laslo Spatula said...

I have explained John Travolta's furry tendencies before.

I do things like that.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

"who belong in 3 different categories: 1. Those who want to have fun and are just playing, 2. Those who are mentally disordered and hurling themselves toward greater chaos and feelings of turbulence, and 3. Those who only want to feel normal."

So, basically I am adding the Fourth option: Those who need the costume in their pursuit of anal sex.

"Mr. Koala Bear likes Miss Panda Bear VERY much? Would Miss Panda bear like to snuggle-wuggle with Mr. Koala Bear and then have anal sex?"


Like that.

I am Laslo.

buwaya puti said...

My wife used to run science fiction conventions in the 80's and furries were present even then. The general opinion was that it is a sexual fetish. There were other sexual fetishists all over the conventions such as that centered around the Marion Zimmer Bradley circle, and several other sorts. Back in those days one could see more or less the whole zoo in one place, now they seem to specialize. Its all a continuum of harmless eccentricity to pathetic insanity to evil cults.

Laslo Spatula said...

But even the President of the Furry Community
Sometimes must have to stand naked.

I am Laslo.

Bob Boyd said...

" 3 different categories: 1. Those who want to have fun and are just playing, 2. Those who are mentally disordered and hurling themselves toward greater chaos and feelings of turbulence, and 3. Those who only want to feel normal."

Maybe they're people on different points of the same trajectory.

tim maguire said...

Everybody's got their thing. Furries are harmless, or at least as harmless as anyone. They are weird because society says they're weird. If society said only furries were normal, then us norms would be weird.

Not so far off from "women wearing men's clothes are sexy. Men wearing women's clothes have a mental disorder" (used to, anyway, today they are other styled or something, still can't do it at the office).

Laslo Spatula said...

"Maybe they're people on different points of the same trajectory."

Which is the same trajectory of the cucumber.

I am Laslo.

Terry said...

Eventually, the identity people will stuff 'furryism' into the straight jacket of being a 'sexual orientation'. Poor, mad dears . . .

CStanley said...

I'm interested in the psychology that Soh felt that she discovered, particularly as it relates to the 3 categories I'm positing.

I think those 3 categories apply to a lot of things that we are not looking at carefully enough. It's something I saw in the Wisconsin protesters, for example. I think it relates to the whole "transgender" issue as well. It applied to the hippie movement.


It also relates to the Orwell quote about Hitler. Given a lack of meaningfulness and sense of belonging, people will seek these out in extreme ways.

Sebastian said...

A question I have about this (and about some similar things) is whether we are defining deviancy down, and if so, why.

Laslo Spatula said...

It is one thing to be hung like a horse, but to have to dress up as one?

I am Laslo.

Bob Boyd said...

"Which is the same trajectory of the cucumber."

Seems like the furry trajectory is a downward one whereas I picture a your cucumbers in a swift short upward arc.


Obviously, I'll defer to your...um...well, you know.

Oso Negro said...

Oh, but Laslo, pony play is already a thing for the equine in essence.

jr565 said...

"There were other sexual fetishists all over the conventions such as that centered around the Marion Zimmer Bradley circle, and several other sorts."
Eww what fetish was that? Raping their daughters?

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/27/sff-community-marion-zimmer-bradley-daughter-accuses-abuse

jr565 said...

and by the way I was a big fan of the Mists of Avalon when it came out. I'm always partial to King Arthur and her retelling of it was interesting. Still though, apparently she molested her daughter.
Crazy woman.

buwaya puti said...

Fat lesbians with whips.

jr565 said...

Zimmer Bradley and her beau HAD to be liberals.

Kzookitty said...

Furry Convention reminds me of a line in My Man Godfrey: all you need to start an insane asylum is a large enough room and the right people.

kzookitty

Or it could be a punk rock band.

YoungHegelian said...

If you're a furry & your girlfriend dumps you do you become fursona non grata?

Lucien said...

Came for a neologism, left satisfied with a fursona.

n.n said...

I would characterize this transgressive orientation as progressive confusion, but only as it becomes a normalized behavior or expressive, because in principle it must be. Equality or pro-choice. Choose.

Quaestor said...

Following John Lynch's link I came across this one, in which a "furry" attempts to explain his infantile obsession in terms of ancient animism, which struck me as both tedious and insulting to genuine animists. About ten seconds in his spiel registered in my consciousness as a mere drone. My attention drifted to his "set design." (Typical for me -- most plays I attend can't hold my attention, so I sit there quietly digesting the design.) I noted right away that MagicRedFox desperately wants his viewers to know how smart he his (the conspicuously displayed "Brief History of Time") and the knotted scarf worn indoors. As Althouse's tag says, things aren't as they seem.

Except this time.

Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie Graves said...

I agree that there are three different motivations that are being lumped together, and that lumping them together obscures one's understanding. The last possible motivation you mention is particularly interesting...although it's possible that it overlaps (2). If doing the fursona thing makes you feel normal, maybe that puts you in (2) although not necessarily in a dark (2).

Quaestor said...

MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski completely lost her composure and ran off set in hysterics after reading an unusual headline.

Why does MSNBC feel compelled to employ the underachieving scions of famous lefties? With all the dangerous, threatening, harbinger-of-the-fall-of-civilization bullshit out there, can't an on-air personality be expected to maintain an adult-like composure when faced with childish bullshit like a furry convention?

I wonder if Chris Kyle when looking down the sights of his .300 Winchester Magnum, his finger resting lightly on the trigger, ever thought I'm sending this lead down range to protect the God-given right to wear an absurd costume in public?

Quaestor said...

If you're a furry & your girlfriend dumps you do you become fursona non grata?

No. To gain that status one must be escorted from a major FurCon by hotel security after ripping off one's fake head and shouting to the rafters "What the flying fuck are we doing here?!?"

cold pizza said...

Wouldn't Elvis be furryous? Can't "won't you be my teddybear," and "you ain't nothin' but a hound dog" be paeans to furryness?

BTW, as a lifelong fan, Sci-fi cons attendee (but not a furry), it's just another outlet for adults to play dress up.

My hobby is guessing (based on bone structure and body language) which of the mundanes in everyday life are horse, dog, cat, or bird analogs. What is your inner animal without the garment? -CP

cold pizza said...

BTW, Ann, based on your criteria, I think it's possible to group ANY group of people into those 3 categories: Those who enjoy play, those who are nuts, those who don't want to play but want to feel "normal," (whatever the hell that means).

Everyone is alien, or gaijin, or weird in some aspect of life or society. Infinite diversity in infinite complexity. Sometimes it's okay to let the weirdness out among other people who also want to let their weirdness out. Not everyone feels comfortable baring their biases on BlogSpot commentaries. -CP

Leslie Graves said...

@cold pizza, there's some truth to what you say, but I think the %s differ. With furries, I'd put the %s at 15-70-15 approximately. With other human groupings (chess club, for example, or the Rotary), it would be more like 80-1-19.

cold pizza said...

Furries can be as simple as cat ears or a tail (both available at Hot Topic in the mall). It fits in with manga, anime, and the cult of Hello Kitty (things otaku and kawaii).

Disclaimer: I wore a uniform to work for 20+ years. I don't need to wear a fake one to a convention on a weekend. But I also have at least one child who is a catgirl at the Con. She's the one who drew my Elvisaurus avatar back when she was 15. -CP

cold pizza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cold pizza said...

Leslie, You're correct about ratios. I think it's also going to depend on the setting. In a typical Sci-fi con, you'll have a higher "playing" ratio than at a ComicCon. Not having been to a FurCon, I'd expect to see the ratios skewed but I'd leave it up to someone who's actually been to one to volunteer their experiences.

I did find the WikiFur page while doing research on possible Venn diagrams for furry participation vs fandom in general and figured if anyone wanted to geek out, have at it. -CP

John Lynch said...

OK, so this is a general discussion about why people join cults and countercultures.

For me, it's a mistake. If one doesn't fit into mainstream society, one should either adapt and change, or accept that one is different and be strong about it. Be an individual. Pay the costs for that. Live with it.

We are what we do, and we choose what we do.

Joining a bizarre counterculture with its own rules and demands doesn't solve the problem. It's always a transaction- accept other people no matter what, follow the same rules and always support each other against outsiders. Solidarity is the greatest good. Conformity and group norms are big. There's less individuality in a counterculture than anywhere else.

Eric Hoffer, "The True Believer," etc.

policraticus said...

FYIAD. FWIW.

Zach said...

Countercultures and subcultures have a lot of appeal to people who think they aren't valued enough in the dominant culture.

In any subculture, you'll find dabblers, who have no real problem with the dominant culture, but enjoy interacting with the subculture as a hobby. You'll find climbers, who want to gain prominence in the subculture that they don't have in the dominant culture. And you'll find rejectors, who want to live in the subculture and never leave.

Politics is a subculture that has the additional appeal of being "important" to the mainstream culture, for some value of important. Protest movements have the appeal of attention getting street theater, besides. In the Wisconsin protests, I'll bet you get a lot of rejectors.

Ann Althouse said...

"The last possible motivation you mention is particularly interesting...although it's possible that it overlaps (2). If doing the fursona thing makes you feel normal, maybe that puts you in (2) although not necessarily in a dark (2)."

I'm separating 3 from 2 because 3 is a place for those with a sincere belief that they are out of kilter and trying to rectify the situation. Whether their feeling is something objectively real or not is something I'm refraining from putting into issue, because i want to treat these people as different from those who are seeking wildness and chaos, and who are in some ways like the fun-seekers, which is why I put them in the middle, even though they are the most extreme.

So, you might ask, why are there suddenly so many transgender people? My hypothesis is: Because before we were only thinking of people in that third group.

Ann Althouse said...

The 3s might object when their thing become fashionable and the 1s and 2s flood in to have fun and to act out.

This might set off some purifying momentum, similar to what you see in religion. The posers get fingered.