Why did we abandon our primal roots? There was once a time where the thrill of the hunt drove our everyday lives. Sure, it was out of necessity, but it was also uncomplicated. Hunt, kill, eat, breed: live. Today, only animals exist in such a straightforward manner. Although, in the midst of our ever-increasing reliance on circuit boards over community, there is a group trying to bridge the gap between our animalistic cousins and our omnipotent modern-selves. They are called Furries and they mean business.
In the realm of social oddity, there is no better place to take your bizarre proclivities than The Internet. A great viaduct to further human knowledge, it is even greater in its ability to form communities outside of geographical boundaries. Never has it been easier to pay your way into marriage, embarrass yourself wholeheartedly or miraculously find someone as sexually bent as you are. Furries exist somewhere in between the aforementioned but bring something quite different to the table.
The actual term “Furry” refers to a person whom, for some reason, possesses a fascination with anthropomorphic animal-human hybrids. They express this most openly in the form of comic books, poetry and dressing up in ‘sexy’ “fursonas” (mascot costumes or face paint and whiskers) when they party together. While Furry Fandom didn’t originate online – it started as a spin-off of less specific sci-fi-fantasy conventions in the 80s – they were early adopters of the web; flocking to net-based Newsgroups in the mid-90s to keep abreast of all the newest tails in the pack. Today there’s a large network of Fur with dedicated websites, communities, forums and even their very own Wiki. This very article was based on many painstaking hours (at least three) reading through them.
Mass media coverage and pop-culture references to Furries has led to what some who wag this way would consider a great exaggeration of what they’re really all about, which is fair. Furry Fandom is, at its heart, a simple appreciation of a specific bizarre form of artistic expression; as well as exceptionally loneliness and need of companionship (according to Wikipedia, 38% are Furry Fans to make friends). However, as within any large group of humans, there are those whose habits can cause outsiders looking in to experience an overwhelming sense of confusion and disgust. Welcome: Furry Lifestylers and Plushies.
There is a great divide in Furry Fandom, and it’s not the Trek versus Wars kind of minutia. It’s a serious parting of ways. Truthers or Furry Lifestylers, as they like to be called, decided in the late 90s that it was necessary to separate from their pussy (pun intended) counterparts whom were really only there to appreciate the art and literature and company. Furry Lifestyles are serious. If they weren’t held back by the social oppression of needing a job, they would be permanently adorned in the wildcat helmets of anthropomorphic bliss that their casual Furry counterparts will generally only wear to conventions and parties. They would lead the life of carnivoran predators, stalking the sidewalk like a jungle for their next hot piece of tail.
Taking on the image of carnivorous animals is an overwhelming choice in the Furry community, which could represent some kind of misplaced aggression in the nerds that dominate the scene. Although, it could also represent the fact that people think lions are cool.
‘Plushie’ is the term most often banded around in reference to Furries, but they are two different things. While the majority of Furries do admit to having some or more sexual inclination toward the subjects of their fantasy world, a Plushie (or Plushophile) is someone who has the unhealthy urge to have sex with stuffed toys. However, only 1% of Furries admit to being Plushies. It is likely Lifestylers who make up the majority of those who take role-play to a level most wouldn’t care to observe.
Nonetheless, Plushophilia is a very real thing. Those who engage in this act (fuck teddies) are considered to exhibit paraphilic behaviour, which is part mental disorder, part being quite different from everyone else. The category is unfairly broad in that it includes proclivities ranging from transvestism to pedophilia. The DSM most recently adapted their definition of Paraphilia as disorder to represent only those behaviours that actually bring harm to any living participants.
So, where does that leave the Furry Community? What they do, sexually or not, doesn’t really hurt anyone in a way they don’t like; despite how easy it is to sneer at. At its worse, Furry Fandom is an odd type of kinky sexual fetishism (they call it Yiff). Depravity is a human characteristic that isn’t limited to the criminally minded and 35 year old porn-addicts still living in their parent’s basements, but also to some of us who never got over our connection to our favourite stuffed toy and really need an adult-sized release.
Then again, maybe Furries exist is in no way related to anything plush or otherwise adolescent. Perhaps, like with other nerdoms, the community was formed out of humanity’s most primal need for companionship. They may not be able to exist in the mainstream world for a variety of reasons, but they are united in that they appreciate the bizarre. It’s certainly possible that they like to dress up as sport’s team mascots and fuck each other because they never had the ability to be on an actual sports team, and this is what they like to imagine was happening on the sidelines. And is that any worse than middle-aged men wanting to play out kilted, pig-tailed, schoolgirl fantasies? It may actually be healthier.
In the end, we’re all Plushies, looking for our own SPH (Strategically Placed Hole) to fit in. Most of us are just less gross about it.
(Pic via FurBuy)