Nowadays, most people have heard of furries. But they probably haven’t heard anything good. Whether online or on TV, furries tend to be the scapegoat of the modern age, used whenever something funny, weird, disturbing, perverted or generally strange is needed to keep things going. Unsurprisingly, there are few facts involved in such portrayals, so most people don’t really even know what a furry is.
The common, word-of-mouth description of these seemingly unknowns is “people who dress up like animals when they have sex.” But this definition is incomplete, if not inaccurate. Such a definition just would not do for me, so I searched through Web sites created by furries and non-furries alike and tried to come up with a better one.
The most basic definition of “furry” is someone with a significant interest in anthropomorphic animal characters. This term doesn’t apply to the everyday dog or cat, but to animals with human characteristics, such as intelligence and standing on two legs. Think of the Disney version of Robin Hood. Naturally, this sort of creature is quite hard to come up with in everyday life, as animal-human hybrids do not exist (yet), so this explains why the arts are so important in the furry community.
Furry characters can be easily drawn, painted, etc. and there are many galleries throughout the internet. However, for those who wish to interact with other people in the guise of an anthropomorphic animal that they relate to personally (a “fursona”), there is only so much a picture will do. Hence, the presence of 3D avatars in role playing systems such as Second Life, and of course the infamous practice of wearing costumes.
In the media, we tend to mostly see fursuits, which are full-body costumes, similar to those worn by some sports mascots. However, most furries do not own one, as they are quite expensive, and I feel it is more common to rely on a pair of ears and a tail to relay the message, especially in our age group. This practice has been around for a while, and can be relatively mainstream when done by women, as in the whole “Playboy Bunny” idea, as well as the more modern Kemonomimi in anime and manga.
These last two are of course quite sexualized, so it is barely surprising that the entire furry community has been stereotyped as being primarily focused on sex. It’s definitely no surprise that furries have sex in the first place, as most people do, so there must be some other reason why they are viewed so negatively.
Is it because other people feel threatened? This isn’t likely since furries are usually attracted to each other. So if there isn’t really any way that a non-furry person could be affected, why is there such fear of the community?
It is instinct for people to treat something that they don’t understand with suspicion and fear, just in case it could actually be harmful. This sort of thinking should go away once it is understood that something can’t be harmful, and there is pretty much nothing harmful a furry can do to you. Even if you still can’t get your head around furry art, costumes, life or sex, all you have to get your head around is the fact that it doesn’t affect you in any way. Live and let live is a good policy in this case, because really, you have more serious things to worry about.