Boing Boing
Jaded Fox

Josh Strom always loved foxes, but it wasn't until he became an adult that he started to imagine what it would be like to actually become one.

"I wish I could put my finger on it. There's just something about them that speaks to me," he tells me over coffee and a sandwich near his downtown San Francisco office, where he works as an IT guy for a media company. For the past 17 years, Strom has had an anthropomorphic alter-ego: Jaded Fox.

"He is six foot two, which is how tall I am. He's in his 30s, he has blue eyes and blond hair." Strom says, pointing to his blond ponytail and gentle blue eyes. "He's a nice guy to a fault. He offers his services when he shouldn't be because the people he's helping don't really deserve his help. He's gotten himself in trouble by doing this, which I myself have done a couple of times. He's definitely me. There's nothing fetishized about it. It's just me in a fox body." 

Strom is a furry — a subset of geeks who like to role play as fictional anthropomorphic characters with human traits. Furries are often portrayed as weirdos who dress up as animals for sex play. But Strom isn't here to tell me about costumes or kinks. He cautiously agreed to an interview with me because — as a 17-year veteran of the fandom — he wants to set the furry facts straight.

Fox Painting

Strom says that the fandom is not about sex at all, and that it's no different than communities of people obsessed with anime or superhero comics. "The furry fandom is just like any other group of like-minded individuals," Strom says. "It's like a tech nerd going to MacWorld." 

Ever since he was a little kid, Strom liked to draw pictures of animals that spoke — Bugs Bunny, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles... and he was a big fan of Disney. As a teen, he volunteered as a fox cage maintenance guy at a wildlife reserve. "I was like, these are the coolest things ever," he says.

Many veteran furries credit their entrance into the fandom to Disney, specifically to the 1973 animated hit Robin Hood. Who could forget the savvy canine archer and his muse, foxy Maid Marion? "Every character in that movie is effectively a furry," Strom says. "They're all anthropomorphic animals." 

In college, Strom joined the furry fandom. He got a campus job as a lab admin, where he spent most of his time on Usenet. "I met a lot of people who were also interested in this stuff," he says. "It just made a lot of sense." That's where he discovered, a furry newsgroup.

"I backdoored into FurryMUCK through Disney use groups. It's basically a chat room that you telnet into. Combine Zork, the old Infocom text adventures, with World of Warcraft, and you get a MMO text-based game where you can write the room descriptions and build out stories. A lot of it has moved to Second Life, but I still have some characters there." Strom was also a theater major, so role-playing was a natural fit. "I found it invigorating and freeing."

The offline socializing among fur-fans started off as room parties at anime conventions; then, in 1989, some of the early adopters decided to hold their own event in Costa Mesa, California, which they called ConFurence Zero. People were already hosting weekend furry parties in their homes, but the early conventions proved that there was enough of a following to make these a regular occurrence. By the mid-90s, when Strom attended his first furry convention, hundreds were flocking to cities from Philadelphia to Essex to attend organized events where sold anthropomorphic art and fiction, congregated with fellow furries, and — on occasion — dressed up as bipedal animals. Today, there are dozens of furry conventions every year with some — like the esteemed Anthrocon — attracting nearly 3,000 people. 

But if the furry fandom truly is friendly and imaginative role-play, not a fetish, why do so many people see it that way? There were a few catalysts, according to Strom, and he becomes visibly upset to talk about them. "The early indiscretions of a few people" triggered a media frenzy early on that painted them as sex-crazed cosplayers, he explains. "They would go to other sci-fi and anime and comic conventions and look at anthropomorphic smut in public, or have loud conversations about, 'Boy I'd really like to hit this-or-that character from that random movie.'"

These miscreants were also quick to pipe up to the media, giving the outside world the wrong impression. Then there was the time when organizers of a certain unnamed furry conference advertised in BDSM magazines. "We started getting people who were like, this is a good place for us to go and meet swingers and get our jollies off! They put on costumes just to fit in and were only interested in the sex, not what the majority of us are actually there for." 

Or maybe it's simply that the world, especially the geek world, just needed an underdog. "People like to look down on someone else to make themselves feel better," Strom says. "That's just human nature."

Strom also mentions a  1994 Wired article and a 2001 Vanity Fair article, both of which he feels unfairly portrayed furries as freaks. After the latter was published, furry convention staff changed their media policies from to be more restrictive. On the Tyra Banks Show this past September, two furries appeared on a segment titled: "Does your sex life measure up to these guests?" The couple told Tyra about costumed sex ("There are strategically placed holes") and their plans to have a furry wedding. For most serious members of the fandom, was one of those horribly embarrassing incidents that forever marred the way their culture was perceived by the rest of us.

"We're interested in anthropomorphics," Strom says. "We go to conventions to hang out with friends, maybe buy something like art or badges, go to a discussion panel or see a show. Swinger parties and fetishes are there, but that's not what the fandom is about." 

In addition to his alter-ego Jaded Fox, Strom has dozens of characters that he role-plays with online — a gay weightlifting Florida panther, a medieval wolf assassin, a sexy Chinese vixen. "For me, the fandom is a hobby. It's also my creative outlet. Some people go home and sing. Some draw, some write. I create roles and work on characters."

 His latest concoction, still a work in progress, is a red fox with black hair wearing John Lennon glasses with a personality loosely based on Dave Tennant's Dr. Who. He admits to owning a jackalope fursuit but he only wears it to conventions and has never had sex in it. He also clarifies that he does not do this to escape reality ("I'm quite happy with my life"); he does not think that the Welsh Corgie that just walked past the restaurant window is sexy ("Bestiality is not furry. That's somebody that's sick"); and he does not look at real animals any differently than you or I ("Everyone wonders what animals are thinking").  

Like most geeks with hobbies, Strom and his furry friends seem to be able to distinguish between their real life and the imaginary world that they play in. Jaded Fox's parallel life is perhaps a tool of self-awareness and exploration. Strom tells me that Fox has evolved and matured since the early years, metamorphosing from gullible red fox to a witty kitsune. "The once-country bumpkin from Maine has turned into a lot more worldly character who can spot a con more likely than he could back in the day. It's been nearly 20 years, and as I've changed over those years, so has the character.

"I'm Josh. I'm an IT guy, I'm a video game geek, I'm a theater geek, and I'm furry. It's just one part of who I am." 

Tips on going to your first furry convention

1. Spend some time looking at furry art or reading furry literature on FurAffinity before you go. 

2. It's okay to wear bunny ears on your head.  

3. Keep bedroom stuff in the bedroom.

4. Don't walk around sniffing proverbial butts. Your interest in anthropomorphic animals does not exempt you from acting human.

5. If you go in a fursuit, do not talk unless you have a moving jaw. 

6. Ask questions. If you see a staff member, or read about a first-timer panel, those are great sources of information on how to become a respectable member of the fandom. 

88 Comments Add a comment

Rob Beschizza #1 8:02 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Many thanks to moon_less for making great scans of polaroid photo cards available.

ian71 #2 8:21 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

A very well-written piece. Kudos!

Anon #3 8:57 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

"Combine Zork the old Infocom tech scams"

Dictation software failure perhaps? I assume this was supposed to be "text games" not "tech scams"....

Anon #4 9:28 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

As a fur, I'd like to thank Ms. Katayama for taking the time to look at the fandom honestly and look beyond the Tyra'esque hype and misrepresentation. It's easy to just look at a group like us and focus on the extreme factions and write the whole group off as a bunch of freaks.

Anon #5 9:28 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

The third page starts out with "I backdoored into it" without providing any context on what "it" is. Less savvy people might think it's related to usenet from the previous paragraph. From the context it sounds like a MUCK or MUSH, probably FurryMUCK.

Farx #6 9:44 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Being a furry myself for almost as long as Jaded, I will disagree with his opinion of the fandom as a whole.
The truth is that there is plenty of 'fetish' involved there.
I believe that a true representation exists somewhere far away from the depictions seen on CSI, Tyra Banks and Vanity Fair, yet also far away from Josh's 'homogenized' portrayal of essentially anthropomorphic animal D&D roleplayers.

Sorry to break it to you all, but from someone on the inside, sex is still a big part of it...
Just not always in fursuits.

marco antonio #7 9:44 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

As part of the furry community 1997-2001, I found it to be tolerant, welcoming and encouraging of everyone, and with a strong push towards the arts: drawing, music, 3D, the works.

I've seen many a newbie going from toddler-level drawing skills to Disney-level after a year or so, moving onto 3D animation, comics, oils, etc... and therefore increasing the talen and self-confidence of those involved.

I think just like other communities (D&D, Trekkies, etc) they are simply one more subculture which (unfortunately) have had bad press. There *are* sex-crazed Trekkies and Elf-sex lovers, but furries seem to cop most hardship. Is it maybe because furries tend to be more vulnerable and peace-loving than other subcultures? I don't know.

But I made great friends around the world while in the fandom, I learned much, and moved on glad that I had a chance to be a part of it.

Anon #8 9:49 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

s/Dave Tenet/David Tennant/, I assume?

Amusingly enough: It was James Marsters' Torchwood character, Captain John Hart, who thought the dog walking past was sexy. It was a poodle, though, not a corgi.

Anon #9 10:01 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Strom repeats the old lie that a particular conference's organizers advertised in BDSM publications. It's been 20 years, and nobody has managed to prove this is true. Where are these advertisements? What publications? This is nothing but a thinly veiled attack on certain individuals.

Anon #10 10:05 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Decent article, though there are a few jarring bits that prompted me to comment.

Someone already mentioned the article was probably talking about FurryMUCK, as the description seems completely off for a usenet newsgroup and appropriate for FurryMUCK.

On furries and sex: I'll note that at least in FurryMUCK in the early 90s furry sexuality was certainly quite visible. Of course, sex was quite visible on many other non-furry systems too.

It also mentions "Dave Tenet's" Doctor Who. I think intended is David Tennant.

Anon replied to comment from Farx #11 10:11 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Sex is a part of life and thus is no more a definition of Furry as it is any other fandom, as the article suggests. Star Trek cons are notorious for rampant sex as well, but they are defined by their common interest. Much is the same for the furry fandom. Our common interest is anthropomorphic animals, not sex.

BookGuy #12 10:19 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Interesting piece. I don't know much about this scene, but I was a little saddened to see the people who are interested in a sexual side of this called "these miscreants" in the article. I can see why furries who don't see it as having a sexual component in their own lives wouldn't necessarily want their interest painted that way, but calling those who do enjoy a sexual side of it "miscreants" seems pretty close minded. To each his or her own as long as no one gets hurt and happy mutants all around, right?

Anon #13 10:33 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

what a beautiful layout! i've not seen such a delicious use of space.

Anon #14 10:39 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Interesting read. I agree with some of the above commenters. Who's to say what Furry is really about? It seems like the sex IS a major part for a lot of participants. Josh may not participate in that aspect, but it is there.

Either way, I think that the media is largely to blame for the common stereotypes about Furries. I wouldn't even know what it was if it wasn't for that CSI episode and that one segment on 1000 Ways to Die.

This site doesn't render so well on my firefox 3.6, but fine in chrome.

Anon #15 10:43 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

I'm in the furry fandom but I don't have one of those "inner selves" - I'm more of a media geek.

The truth about the fandom is that there's no single united fandom - it's made up of a lot of competing takes on the subject - but it's still a fun place to be; it just takes some careful driving. has an excellent essay in its "About the fandom" section that explains the current structure of the fandom and how it ended up the way it is now.

Anon #16 10:59 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

I've been fur-curious since discovering that, oh, nearly all of the nice/interesting/artsy people I hung out with in high school identify either as furry or otherkin. The media frenzy had me too scared to even explore the option myself for a long time, and the general disapprobation still keeps me from saying anything...

BUT- this special feature seems to confirm what I've suspected all along: furries are just people who don't quite feel like people all the time. Some people are fetishists and sex fiends, some people are not. The same thing is true both inside and outside the furry community; it just might seem like there's a larger subset of furries who are fetishists or fiends because *all* furries who con and cosplay are already accustomed to being public about something that isn't "socially acceptable," so those furs who are into other "socially unacceptable" things are just more public about it than most non-furs who are into the same things.

Anon #17 11:01 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Even if it were all about dressing up in costumes to go to a convention and meet similarly costumed people to have sex with, how is that any worse than dressing up in fancy expensive clothes to go to a fancy expensive nightclub to meet similarly costumed people to have sex with?

Anon #18 11:04 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

This is double plus awesome.

Anon replied to comment from Farx #19 11:07 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Sex is a part of furry, but it's a part of life. Like discussing Anime without mentioning Hentai is a part of that culture. It exists, it's there, and it's all over.

It doesn't matter what sub-culture you're a part of... it's an element to it.

gobo #20 11:13 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Thanks, Lisa, this is a really well-written and openminded piece that doesn't dwell on the freakshow aspects of furry like most articles seem to do.

Anon #21 11:26 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Another veteran furry here. The sex in furry problem exists because talking animals can represent the most innocent of people's fantasies. On the other hand, humans (especially Americans) sexualize everything. This means that furry is at odds with itself over sex, in a way that any other fandom is not. The spectrum of furry appreciation is so wide, and the differing parts of it clash so destructively, that nothing can really be resolved.

This comes as a result of the fanbase being so broad. You have your My Little Pony fans (a children's cartoon from the 80's) mingling with your Fritz the Cat fans (an explicitly sexual comic made by R. Crumb, and animated by Ralph Bakshi in the 70's). I can't see how that doesn't cause chafing.

Anon #22 11:27 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

I'm always a bit disappointed when these articles appear and the focus is mainly upon the roleplay, rather than the art. Maybe I'm just not as furry as most furries, but I always consider the art to be the driving force of the fandom. That aside, it is a very good and intelligently written article.

Anon #23 11:28 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Cool stuff. Glad to see a fair view of the fandom for once!

fatwomenhavecurves #24 11:34 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

overall a rather naive and idealistic article.

"... a certain unnamed furry conference advertised in BDSM magazines. "We started getting people who were like, this is a good place for us to go and meet swingers and get our jollies off! They put on costumes just to fit in and were only interested in the sex, not what the majority of us are actually there for.""

oh, get off your high horse already, mister fox. it's not as though the entire bdsm community is all about sex and costumes; don't blame another community for bringing in the smut that already existed within your own.

"Bestiality is not furry. That's somebody that's sick."

visit any uncensored furry art site and you will see a lot of work that very much indicates to the contrary. and if someone who is attracted to animals is "sick," as you put it, is it really so much of a stretch to attach the same term to someone who is attracted to drawings of animals, or animals acting like people, or people dressed as animals?

Anon #25 11:36 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

To say that sex isn't part of the fandom at all is disingenuous. Sex is not the focus of the fandom in the least, however it plays an integral part of the community. Think of it like the hippies of the '60s-- one of the mantras as "free love," but that didn't necessarily mean every single hippy out there wanted to have sex with anything that moved or that the hippy movement was defined by its open sexual activity. It was a byproduct of the general mentality.

I feel a lot of furries need to accept that sex plays an integral part of their community and thus separates them significantly enough from other sci-fi communities as to make them more adult-oriented than others. To compress the concepts of the community into a single sentence, furries are essentially neo-hippies with tails, and this is something to be applauded.

pscylkzin #26 11:42 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

The furry fandom is one of the most expressive, creative and original subcultures out there. Trekkies, Harry Potter, Twilight, Anime, etc.. all of these revolve around an existing franchise and story, whereas the furry fandom is simply a love for animals with human traits. I would consider anyone who has a like for furries to be gifted to have such an enthusiastic adoration for something so flexible and fun.

Decay #27 11:46 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

I'll agree it's naive, but very well-written and would be a nice introduction to give anyone curious about what furry is.

It's unfortunately also a subculture that attracts a lot of weirdoes, for the perceived acceptance it offers.

Anon #28 11:50 AM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

I'm a furry artists and I've been part of the furry fandom for 7 years.

My observation is that in any given fandom or group that uses the internet to anonymise the participants (Chatroulette too!), then a small minority will become exceptionally loud and public about their kinks and fetishes, and that minority will always influence the general public into an expectation that such behaviour is the norm.

Most furs hang out for the social aspect and the light roleplay of being something other than plain human.

I run a virtual tavern on FurryMuck and from observation over the better part of a decade, I can say that on the whole people are quite content to hang around roleplaying their furry persona (Fursona), drinking tea and talking about games, TV, films, the news, what they'd like for dinner - pretty much the exact same thing that anyone would talk about around the water cooler.

Anon #29 12:01 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

@Farx (#5):

Sex is indeed a part of the fandom, but I don't see where Jaded tried to pretend that it's not. The trouble is, much of the media sensationalism revolving around the furry fandom these days paints the fandom as being nothing BUT sexual deviants, and that is not the case.

For some people in the fandom, sex is incredibly important. But then again, how many of those people might have researched the fandom because they saw a "documentary" on it, or read an article about it, and thought there might be something in it for them, sexually? The furry fandom welcomes people with open arms and doesn't turn people away. This can be both a good and a bad thing.

I, too, have been a part of the furry fandom for many years (since 1996 "officially", even longer than that if you include "furry" role-playing as a child) and it has never been a sexual thing for me. The thought never even crossed my mind! And I'm not the only one to feel this way; for many of my friends, it's not sexual either.

It's going to be a part of pretty much any subgroup or fandom, so flat-out saying "it doesn't exist" is simply incorrect. But saying it's the primary focus is also incorrect. This is one of the great things about fandoms: it is what you make of it. If the sex is the most important thing to you, then by all means, find those of like mind and partake. But in the meantime, please don't paint us all with the same brush; many of us have other focuses ourselves.

Swatcher #30 12:15 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Totally agreed with BookGuy and fatwomenhavecurves here. Furry fandom is full of creative fetishists that make the nerds with so-called regular sex lives really uncomfortable. But we're all just regular people with similar proclivities.

The meme goes that furry used to be some innocent nerd get-together and that the perverts "stole it" away and corrupted it. Like superhero and sci-fi fandom, there have always been people who extend their interests to the bedroom. Who cares?

Fetish furries are not only proud of being sexual deviants, they're insanely creative and artistic about the ways they go about expressing it. Stories, drawings, sculptures, costumes, roleplay... I've never seen raw, human sexuality, deviant and vanilla together, with such normalcy as I have in the fandom. Part of what I appreciate about it is that people don't make a huge deal about who's normal and who's a pervert, we're all just regular human beings who pretend to be animals sometimes because it's fun.

Then you stick a microphone in someone's face and start typing what they say and the story changes to what we have here.

It's really unfortunate that something really interesting is being subsumed by a desire to "clean up our image". Can't we just be weirdoes? Interesting and perhaps sexy weirdoes?

Farx replied to comment from Anonymous #31 12:23 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

I do not speak for everyone in the fandom, I am but one voice from a much larger pool, just like Jaded in the article above.

In my opinion, many furries do tend to wear their 'fetish' and 'porn' on their sleeve for everyone to see.

Unfortunately the prevailing sentiment that I've seen is not just, "Our common interest is anthropomorphic animals, not sex.", but more along the lines of 'our common interest is having sex with anthropomorphic animals'.

Anon #32 12:40 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

A well-written article about the furry fandom! While I agree with most of what Josh mentioned, it is also important to understand that not every furry has the same lifestyle. Some are in it just for fun, some are in it just for pleasure and some are in it just because that's what they enjoy doing.

Merek #33 12:43 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Warning, wall of text follows:

First, I'd just like to thank Lisa Katayama and BoingBoing for writing what is a very thoughtful, calm and (mostly) fair piece on a social phenomenon that is usually treated with either moral hysteria, snide, condescending "cooler-than-thou" or both. The article's even-handed
approach to a difficult topic actually reminded me a bit of a "This American Life" piece; I can totally hear Ira Glass narrating it.

That said, I have to echo the thoughts of a lot of the commenters here, like BookGuy who sums up my problem with the article perfectly: "I was a little saddened to see the people who are interested in a sexual side of this called 'these miscreants' in the article."

At least since I got into the fandom in the early 00s, and possibly since the beginning, there have been these two groups playing an uncomfortable tug-of-war over it. On one side, outside the fandom, the moral fear-mongers and spectacle lovers that love finding and exploiting "freaks" for viewership try to portray it as a den of depravity, unimaginably twisted and sad. And on the other, well-meaning guys like Mr. Strom react against this and keep trying to pull it the other way, desperately trying to paint the fandom as a main-stream, largely non-sexual, harmless past-time.

Clearly the hysterics are wrong (they always are). And maybe in general, people like Josh are right. But for me at least, his protests for normalcy and an asexual fandom just don't ring true. I got into furry for the sex: for the freedom, the friendliness, the novelty. For me furry brings the same thing to sexuality that BDSM does: a chance to use my mind when it comes to sex, to add a whole new layer of narrative and psychology.

As previous commenters have said, I suspect the reality is somewhere between the two extremes. But that means that sexuality is a significant part of the whole thing, and it seems dishonest, at least from where I sit, to try and minimize it.

I understand where people like Josh are coming from, I really do. The urge to be normal, to be acceptable and just shovel the inconvenient bits under the rug is undeniably powerful. And maybe for him what he's saying is true.

But for me, and for a lot of the fandom, it isn't. We're not monsters or psychos, just kinksters. We like being creative with sex. What's really sad is that Mr. Strom has to make this argument at all, has to distance himself from anything sexual because there's seemingly no room for that in the wider culture. You're either a delusional, dangerous pervert or an innocent g-rated hobbyist. And that sucks.

Anon #34 1:14 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

There's no avoiding that sex plays a huge part in furry. Look at all the high traffic furry sites and you'll find copious amounts of adult content. The channel lists for furry irc networks mostly contain fetish channels and furry mucks are almost all sex. Is it all sex all the time? No, certainly, but it does play a more pivotal role than most furries would care to admit. You're not going to get rid of the hostility towards furry by trying to sweep the dirt under the rug.

farrellmcgovern #35 1:18 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Every fandom has it's sexual SF Fandom, there are stories about Wesson parties and a very famous incident involving a well known author, two buxom women, and a large bathtub of Lime Jello. Star Trek Fandom has it's Kirk/Spock Fanzines with various subgeneras like "hurt/comfort". And Furries have their "adult" art and yiffing.

Sex is one of the strongest urges in the human animal, and it will manifest limited only by physics and imagination.

Obviously #36 1:20 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

I think this article, in its attempt to clear up misconceptions also spreads some misinformation. I was a part of what you'd call the furry community/fandom when I was a teenager (like how some kids are goths I guess).

A lot of what has been mentioned here is true, there are a lot of people who fit this description and are in it for the fantasy escapism and anthropomorphic identity.

But the reason why furries are seen the way they are isn't just because of a few shots taken at them on TV but because if you go to sites like FurAffinity (The deviant art of furries essentially) the majority of the art you'll find there IS pornography. By far Furcadia's most popular area is the over 18 erotic Furrabian Nights. These are just two of dozens of examples at the top of my head. The majority of artwork and literature produced is pornographic in nature. Yes this sucks for the people who aren't fetishists but the face of the furry community is always going to be the fetish because it's the most visible aspect and to a lot of people the most shocking.

And this is what ultimately pushed me away (besides just naturally growing out of it) and though I still enjoy anthropomorphic character designs I wouldn't associate myself with the community which like most Internet communities is fraught with drama. People have said the furry community is open and welcoming but my experience was that it was rather harsh and petty (On the Internet anyway, face to face people tend to get a whole lot nicer and the same can be said for any community). A lot of this drama comes from furries like the one interviewed here who feel it's their responsibility to somehow "clean up" the fandom or clear up a perceived misrepresentation instead of just dealing with the fact that the overwhelming majority of it is adult oriented and continuing to enjoy the aspects that they enjoy. This plea isn't a new thing, people have heralded the "we're not perverts!" cry since the fandom began.

I personally don't judge anybody who calls themselves a furry and I don't care what the fetishists do. Whatever rocks their boat is their business I don't care what somebody does in the privacy of their own bedroom as long as all parties consent to it. I think what happens a lot is people take it as a pride issue and feel they must defend their geeky clique and considering how easy they are to pick on, drama ensues and both furries and the people trolling them make whatever community they belong to a web-drama nightmare and furries quickly become unwelcome due to that stigma.

But at the end of the day 99.99% of furries are harmless geeks not sexual deviants or schizophrenics who truly think they're foxes. I think everybody already knows this, but they're an easy target and the cries for peace as if they were some kind of mistreated minority group just fuels the flames for further trolling.

fatwomenhavecurves #37 1:24 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

i always found it interesting/amusing how many furries identify with wolves, foxes, lions, et cetera -- you know, "cool" animals. you never hear "my fursona is a sea slug!"

(though if more furries were aware that nudibranches were generally non-self-fertilizing hermaphodites, you probably would...)

Farx replied to comment from fatwomenhavecurves #38 1:32 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

One of the species I always suggest to folks when they make a plea for 'original' art ideas is the star nosed mole.

Stefan Jones #39 1:36 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Rob's introductory post mentions the Geek Hierarchy but neglects a link:

Anon #40 3:02 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

I've never understood in stories like this why even people who were part of the fandom couldn't get past the wall of either making it sound all very sex negative, or too overly sexualized. Now while I think the media does have some fault in this, its still something very upheld by furries because they are either scared or being hated on at all again or most likely want to show how comfortable they are with being different.
Its just, when a reporter asks if furries have sex, shes pretty much asking "do nerdy humans have sex". Shouldn't it be obvious by now that furries, like everybody else are just as sexual as the rest of the world. You don't see anyone flipping out when a heavy sex scene happens in the newest action flick, parents still take their kids to see it, everyone goes home happy.

I think because furries have decided to own their sexuality in a way that most people don't now days, creating new and raw material everyday that reflects how unique, artistic and wonderfully diverse group they are, that people get mad at that. It seems so insane, "expressing your sexuality in a way thats not hollywood mainstream?" how preposterous!
I think thats why alot of furries take the sex negative route, because they know that the media will correspond different and creative , I would even say artistic sex as something wrong.
I think that reflects on society as a whole, that no matter how harmless and creative someone is sexually that if it differs from the mainstream then it must be some derelict act that should be condemned.

So yes, furries have sex and look at porn. So does your mom and dad, your coworkers, the hot dog vendor and probably even you.

I feel like this is really a comment on how we should be portraying an accepting sex as a culture right now. Because it really speaks that we are still so afraid of anything different other then our own likes and dislikes when we can actually find time to rag on a guy who wants to dress up like a giant fluffy red panda or draw himself as a noble lion, thong included or not.

EcstaticForSure replied to comment from Farx #41 3:17 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Interesting you should suggest that animal, as I found this a few weeks ago.

gobo replied to comment from fatwomenhavecurves #42 3:24 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

"is it really so much of a stretch to attach the same term to someone who is attracted to drawings of animals, or animals acting like people, or people dressed as animals?"

Yes, it's very much a stretch. Calling someone a bestialist because they dare to admit that the fox version of Robin Hood was rather sexy is a huge leap. Bestiality is when someone has sex with animals, not people dressed up in an anthropomorphized wolf mask. Let's not start going down that foolish slippery slope.

EcstaticForSure replied to comment from fatwomenhavecurves #43 3:37 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Given the depth of the identification most furries have with their animal of choice, I'd say that most of them have a lot of animals they could identify with on a similar level. It just comes down to which animal they want to be most. Identification with an animal is fuzzy (a-HA! puns) in the first place because we like to append human characteristics on creatures that don't think like humans. Plus, most people have canines and felines as pets. I think that tends to get people attached to similar animals.

I don't have too much of a problem with it, but I can see how people get tired of wolf after wolf after fox.

PlushieSchwartz #44 4:00 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Oh, well done Lisa/BoingBoing ! Plushie Schwartz gives it the gloved thumbs up. Note, Plushie is not a plushie, but a furry.

Tepenecz replied to comment from fatwomenhavecurves #45 4:23 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Full disclosure: Yes, I am a furry, and have enjoyed being in the fandom for 18 years.

You say: " it really so much of a stretch to attach the same term [bestiality] to someone who is attracted to drawings of animals, or animals acting like people, or people dressed as animals?"

Yes, it is an enormous stretch. Forgive me if I'm reading you incorrectly, but it sounds like you're working from a very simplified and incorrect view of the furry fandom.

Let me turn it around a little. An outsider who is totally unfamiliar with the BDSM community, working from a naive and simplified view of it, may very well draw horribly wrong conclusions about someone who, in their mind, enjoys tying women up and making them wear a gag. They may conclude, very wrongly, that everyone into BSDM is just a few degrees removed from a potential rapist. You and I both know how wrong those conclusions would be, of course, given the depth and variety of the BDSM community and the central focus it has on consent.

To the extent that sex is a part of the furry fandom, the same problem exists for us. Furries who enjoy the sexual side of it have no more interest in bestiality than members of the BDSM community have interest in rape.

Rob Beschizza #46 4:26 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

My spirit animal is the lamprey.

Anon #47 5:42 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

I approve this.

Anon replied to comment from Rob Beschizza #48 5:42 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

Mine is the stoat.

fatwomenhavecurves #49 5:51 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

re: gobo and tepenecz -- by way of clarification, i wasn't referring to the term "bestiality;" i was referring to "sick." also not necessarily to commited acts, but to urges and attractions.

see, there is an image that pops up fairly regularly on certain forums (google "dangerously furry" and you'll see it) that illustrates it in a humorous manner. what furries are attracted to (as with anyone) varies insofar as how much of the "kink" they like to see. for some, it's robin hood and maid marian. for others, it's what most people would agree is bestiality (and again i would point deniers of this fact to any uncensored furry art forum).

there is a rather large grey area in the middle where it's hard to pin down where "sick" begins. mister fox seems pretty comfortable in his placement of the term as applying to those who are attracted to real-life animals, not specifically to those who actually molest/harm/rape them. but what about eroticizing drawings (or even photos) of real life animals involved with people? what about drawings of almost-animals, et cetera?

on another note, i wonder how the formation of "furry" begins in a person. it's not like something like homosexuality, where there is a biological cause. a friend and i have theorized (somewhat freudianly so) that it's a result of too much television, specifically cartoons, as a very small child. there's too much early identification with talking cartoon animals, and it has something of an effect on what the child eventually grows up thinking is attractive, a kind of cultural conditioning.

Anon replied to comment from fatwomenhavecurves #50 7:05 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

"it's not like something like homosexuality, where there is a biological cause"

See, I don't agree. Exophilic tendencies often run in families, and have been around for all of human history.

The core of Furry subculture- human-animal hybrids ("anthropomorphic animals" is a slight mischaracterization, IMO-- furries often draw centaurs and sphinxes)- is seen in countless human cultures-- I really can't think of any culture that doesn't have an example. Clearly, the theme strikes a chord in the human psyche, and like any psychologically appealing idea, it can become sexual given the right individual. I really don't think either Disney cartoons or zoophilia play into it at all.

gobo replied to comment from fatwomenhavecurves #51 7:16 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

I have just as much of a problem with furries being labeled as "sick", actually. Why is it "sick" for someone to admit that Robin Hood, as a fox, is swave and sexy, but "normal" for someone to, say, fetishize the sort of anti-gravity-boob women featured in Heavy Metal magazine? They're both unrealistic attractions based in pure fantasy. But one of them you've lumped in with actually having sex with animals, oddly.

I don't think you're too far from the mark concerning where furry comes from, however. Introverted kids who can't identify with other kids around them find comfort and companionship in books and TV characters, and are able to empathize much more with, say, a cartoon mouse than the bully next door who wants to punch him. And yes, there's a chance that as they grow up they might find that they enjoy subsuming those emotions into sexy pictures of the kind of anthropomorphic characters they liked as a kid.

Anon #52 7:26 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

As a fairly neutral observer, my experience from the forums of a few furry webcomics that I read tells me unwanted furry porn and subsequent browser cache deletion is only a click on a signature link away.

During my time as an evil little troll several years ago, there were three camps of furries: a vocal minority that denied the sexual element, a vocal minority that embraced the sexual element, and the majority which wouldn't respond to flamebait and just plodded along.

The proportion of the third camp who get their rocks off on wolf-sex (or sea-cucumber semen cloud release) is thus difficult to judge, except via external indicators like website popularity of sexual vs nonsexual content, because every time they open their mouths they get shouted down by groups 1 and 2.

Happler replied to comment from fatwomenhavecurves #53 7:29 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

"it's not as though the entire bdsm community is all about sex and costumes;"


that one made my day! If the BDSM community is not about dressing up and sex then what the heck is it about?

Anon #54 8:58 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

First of all I want to thank you as others have, for writing such an honest non-sensationalist piece. I think interviewing more than one person could have given you a much better overall view, but as far as single interviews go, this is good.

In response to Obviously/#36 above: The majority of art on Furaffinity is not adult. On any given day, if you browse back through the most recent submissions, you'll most likely find, like I did, that the art marked as mature makes up less than 20% of the submissions, and those marked as adult make up closer to, but still less than 20%. Currently the 5 most recent browse pages are exactly 30% mature+adult.

Others have said most of this before me, but I think trying to separate sex from furry entirely would be disingenuous. On the other hand, the furry fandom isn't about sex in the same way that humanity isn't about sex. Pretty much any where there are humans, there will be sex involved, even if it seems weird or wrong. Not that it's everyone's primary objective, but it's there, and pretending it doesn't exist is silly.

As a long-time fur, I think the biggest difference between furry and other similar communities, is that when it comes to sex, people are more open about it as a topic, and as such it gets shown quite visibly in the creative products of the fandom. Sometimes it goes over the top, but I think it's not an entirely unexpected reversal of America's strange taboo on seemingly any mention of sex in public, which leads to all sorts of nasty unintended consequences.

I didn't really want to write several paragraphs about sex - the furry community is a fascinating and lively bunch. Several years ago, at Anthrocon 2007, the following exchange took place, and I think it highlights the biggest difference between the furry community and many other fan groups:

"What exactly are these people fans of? Comics? Animation?" —Rob Paulsen

"Actually, they're fans of each other." —Mark Evanier

Anon #55 9:22 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

The troubling thing about "furry" to us mundanes is the sexualizing of something which is ultimately very rooted in the juvenile. It's as if that innocent, pure feeling of cuddling with your favorite teddy bear when you're three or four years old has been twisted into something horrible and impure.

Watching Disney's Robin Hood is one of my cherished childhood memories. But seeing it perverted into something other than its innocent youthful roots is profoundly disturbing in a way that considering Trekkies doing it is not.

In some way, all of those anthropomorphized characters were stand-ins for us kids in a way that Kirk and Spock never were. Thus, there's a vague, subconscious element of pedophilia that is difficult for us to shake.

Anon #56 11:44 PM Monday, Mar 8, 2010 Reply

This was a well done article, but the entire time, the only thought in my head was how this article's greatest problem was that it could just as easily have been titled "Furries Claim They Are Misunderstood".

gnp #57 12:21 AM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

Several folks have brought up a whitewashing/denialist aspect to this article, and it's true that part of the fandom has always been trying to downplay the sexual elements (even though they're obviously present). There are understandable motivations for doing so, though not always using the best methods.

As Merek (#33) put it, "What's really sad is that Mr. Strom has to make this argument at all, has to distance himself from anything sexual because there's seemingly no room for that in the wider culture. You're either a delusional, dangerous pervert or an innocent g-rated hobbyist." That's the clincher - the relationship with society outside the fandom.

A lot of furries would like the fandom to have a bit less stigma (both real and perceived). Imagine you're a talented artist in furry fandom who's thinking of breaking into professional illustration or animation. Or that you love costuming and would like to perform for charities and other sponsored live events. The more the fandom is perceived as primarily sexual, the more trouble our members have in marketing themselves. This results in damage control. "And that sucks," to again quote poster #33.

Another major problem is poor fan retention. People frequently leave the fandom due to its extremes and the ensuing drama - poster #36, for example. Some outright avoid the fandom entirely. At one convention, there was a panel that had a title something like, "I like furry stuff, but I don't like the fandom." For a fandom that's supposed to be open and accepting, it sure scares people away. Isn't this worth changing? For those of us who want to see the fandom grow, shouldn't we try to make it less off-putting despite our weirdest members?

We're also getting young teens starting to enter the fandom, and while I think being open about sexuality is good, in some circumstances, does the fandom go too far? No easy answers to this, alas. But parents can leap to the worst conclusions and I wouldn't wish that on any kid.

Personally I like the stance of Lisa's article. (It's great of BoingBoing to post it, considering its past satirical treatments.) It's the voice of the moderates - like hearing a conservative centrist countering the far-right, or a Muslim denouncing Islam's extremist-fundamentalist fringe.

Something to think about - compare furry fandom to anime fandom. Both fandoms are about the same age in North America. (Heck, they even share founding members, like Fred Patten.) Anime has tons of porn, but it's relatively easy to surf through anime fandom and avoid the deep squick. In furry fandom, everything's mixed up together: it lacks discretion, in terms of *where* its fetishistic members talk. In my opinion, it would be great to see furry fandom adapt a different model - message boards and web sites where fetish and non-fetish material aren't constantly blended. Anime fandom proves you can have the adult and non-adult material co-exist while maintaining a degree of decorum and tact.

When someone says they're an anime fan, it tends not to convey much social stigma aside from general geekiness. When someone says they're a furry fan, if an outsider has heard of it at all, chances are the perception is negative, and a quick web search can certainly make for a terrible first impression. If we can change outside attitudes from "Furry? Oh, so you're a fetishist with social problems," to "Furry? Oh, so you're a geek," I'd be over the moon. Or maybe I just need to lighten up.

In any case, I'd like to thank everyone for the great responses and thought-out arguments so far. If only furry message forums had this caliber of discussion.

Xydexx #58 12:30 AM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

Thanks for the well-written (and very nicely laid out!) article. As an active and enthusiastic participant in Furry fandom since 1993, it's always encouraging to know there's folks willing to set the record straight instead of believing what they read in the tabloids.

It's a little disappointing to hear the more insecure geeks out there (who really ought to know better) still like to instigate drama and put Furry fandom down. They really have no clue what they're missing.

Old And Busted: The Geek Hierarchy
The New Hotness: Furries vs. Klingons Bowling

I am constantly impressed with the artwork and stories and costumes Furry fandom generates. I think since Furry fandom has become more visible in recent years, folks are realizing we're weird but harmless, and that's cool.

As Xeni Jardin said, "yay for eccentric humans doing their own thing no matter what fun-crushers may say."

Xydexx replied to comment from gnp #59 1:34 AM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

I'm not sure I'd characterize playing down the sexual parts of the fandom as denialist/whitewashing. It's called showing some discretion.

I wouldn't say everything is "mixed together", either. The conventions I've been to have separate sections for non-adult/adult artwork, and the websites I visit have filters for non-adult/adult artwork. There are even websites like ArtSpots ( which are devoid of R-X material.

Anon replied to comment from Xydexx #60 3:15 AM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

It is a bit denialist, because like it or not, sex is a big part of the fandom. And that really shouldn't be a problem. It's the internet, and "discretion" isn't really often considered. Anyone but a casual user has probably seen more penis' (penises? penii?) than Roy Ashburn.

One great thing about the fandom is that it is really very open to LGTB folks, as well as people with various other non-vanilla fetishes (BDSM for example). In fact, a Gay Furry Erotica Novelist recently won a Rainbow award from a mainstream Gay reviewer for one of his works.

There are also works that combine adult themes (like sex, which one finds in gallons upon gallons of mainstream novels) with actual really engaging, thought-out stories that happen to use (and utilize, often with fantastic results) anthropomorphic animal characters.

Sure, there is PG rated stuff. There are great, PG - PG-13 rated comics, art, stories, what have you. But there is also very well done adult and erotic work. I can understand keeping it behind an 18 and Up wall, but hiding it? It's a bit prudish.

It just really annoys me that America (sorry other countries, bit of a hometown rant here. IDK how much it applies to various other countries) is just so ridiculously closed-minded about sex, especially anything that isn't vanilla. We're fine with sexualizing women from the age of 8 on up, but the second it goes to anything else we get all moralistic. Sexin' will corrupt the youth of America! blargh.

lol, sorry Xydexx. I kinda used your post to jump off into a tangentially-related rant....

notasheep replied to comment from Anonymous #61 4:02 AM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

I've been involved, more or less, for 15 years in furry fandom. Some notes:

* Sex is there at cons for many reasons. There are some particular fetishes which are difficult to find anywhere else -- vorarephilia, for example. It's also sometimes people's one-time-yearly chance to meet others they interact with daily on furry mucks (there are many). Of course you'd want to have sex if people you love are available.

* And for fatwomenhavecurves, despite my name I've played a sheep before on furry virtual spaces. I've also seen a lot of "non-cool" species, including insects. They're not non-existent, just rare.

* Furry, for me, is/was a combination of sex as well as finding an accepting subgroup for daily contact as well as yearly get-togethers. I made one very fast friend from my time in the fandom, and I regret very little about being furry. That said, the real world is nice, too, and I'm much more discreet about my furry alter ego than I used to be, now that furry's been mocked in the media over the past decade or so.

David #62 7:21 AM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

In its efforts to normalize furries, this article paints an extremely inaccurate picture of the degree of sexualization of furry fandom. There was a flamewar a few months ago on FurAffinity when one of the rare gen artists turned off his filter and discovered just how much porn there was. When he suggested that maybe there was other kinds of furry art to draw, the dude got dogpiled.

Furries have the rep they do for a reason. When I was in SF fandom in Chicagoland in the early/mid nineties, if you went into the local con's art shows, if they had a restricted section, what kind of content was in there? All the furry art. You wandered around the corner expecting maybe some tasteful artistic nudes, and suddenly it was spurting horse cocks as far as the eye could see. (Or leopard cocks. Or fox cocks. Invariably horse-sized.) That was pretty much all the furries did. And they did a *lot* of it. And that was the face they chose to present to the rest of fandom.

(Hell, I had a friend who was on FurryMUCK at around that time, and I'm amazed to hear that anything *other* than chatsex happened on there.)

Anon #63 7:21 AM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

The definition of Furry in 100 words or less:

"Furry" is a meta-culture that defies almost all explanation of it's various forms and methods, other than a conjoined affinity for appreciation or fictional and non-fictional creative works in which one or more subjects/characters may have a combination of human and non-human characteristics (usually Physical, but sometimes mental or even implied!), related to an existing Real, Fictional, or Myhical non-human creature.

There is also Porn. Lots of it.

gobo replied to comment from David #64 8:58 AM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

That might be your experience, David, but it's by no means the norm. Some of the best artists on sites like FurAffinity do no adult work at all, and get thousands of followers. The art shows at furry cons display roomsful of G-rated art that's sold for many hundreds of dollars at charity auctions. And as far as FurryMUCK and other chatrooms: just like real life, it depends where you hang out. If you're in an adult area, sure, there's chatsex, and they shouldn't be surprised to find it there. But again, that's not all there is, by a longshot. But I also understand that the sight of one giant horsecock tends to overshadow a roomful of kid-friendly art :)

Pipenta #65 9:36 AM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

Furry culture takes heat because it is relatively new on the general public's radar. And it is funny. Time was, all you had to do was be caught in public with a copy of "Stand on Zanzibar" under your arm and you took heat for being a science fiction fan. And if you were a girl who liked science fiction? Gah!

The thing that continues to strike me when I talk to furry fans or read articles like this, is that these folks repeatedly say this all comes of a great interest in, or love for, animals.

I don't see it, except in as much as we are animals. Furry culture is about cartoons and stories and stuffed animals. Disney and Warner Brothers and even Arthur Rackham were not drawing any animals in nature. They were illustration cartoons and fairy tales. And that's fine. Furry fandom is grand, but it doesn't have much to do with actual animals at all.

As far as I can tell, it has much to do with yearning to be special, it has to do with wanting to be strong and fast and see in the dark and possibly rather more attractive than you actually are.

The behaviors furry folk attempt to emulate have naught to do with much an ethologist would recognize and have everything to do with what a school guidance counselor or a cruise social director or a guru or a good career coach deals with on a daily basis.

Furrydom is not an animal thing, it's a symbol thing. You want to get closer to animals, you deal with the real thing. You work at a shelter or you become a biologist to study them or you even eat them, for pete's sake. You realize that they aren't all wise or beautiful or cute, but just as grotty as your coworker in the next cubicle. Like him, those beasts are just working their way through their life cycle, trying to survive and maybe reproduce, if all goes well.

Come to think of it, furry culture is very animal. If that cubical guy can dress up in his ferret costume meet a sweet young platypus, it could help them complete their life cycle by having a litter of marmots. And it doesn't much matter if they do it all furtively in costume, or if they register for gifts at Neiman's like the so-called normal people do.

But I just think it is important to remember, the next time you see someone dressed up like an adorable lopeared bunny at a convention, that real rabbits eat their own poop, and that ain't cute.

Anon replied to comment from David #66 12:49 PM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

"When he suggested that maybe there was other kinds of furry art to draw, the dude got dogpiled."

But... was this a good thing? :)

fatwomenhavecurves #67 12:54 PM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

re: Happler; "If the BDSM community is not about dressing up and sex then what the heck is it about?"

it's about domination and submission, and whatever that entails to an individual practitioner (bondage et cetera). costumes are not necessary, and sex is not the aim. for some people, denial of sex may even be the kink.

re: gobo; "Why is it "sick" for someone to admit that Robin Hood, as a fox, is swave and sexy, but "normal" for someone to, say, fetishize the sort of anti-gravity-boob women featured in Heavy Metal magazine? They're both unrealistic attractions based in pure fantasy. But one of them you've lumped in with actually having sex with animals, oddly."

because robin hood is a fox, and the big breasted woman is a human, albeit an exaggerated version of one. and the people who like robin hood in That Way go to art forums that feature erotic art of animals, both anthropomorphic and non-. a pedophile who not not diddle kids is still a pedophile because of their attraction; i apply the same logic here.

MrScience #68 2:51 PM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

Thank you BoingBoing for having such a thought-provoking story, and for all of you that have provided such great and productive commentary.

One thing that I was surprised to find lacking was the research done by by David J. Rust, and continued by UC Davis.

In the Rust study, it was found that the furry community has a higher tolerance for displays of affection and friendliness, and a higher tolerance for variety in sexual orientation and activity (bisexuality took the largest share, at 48% of furries responding to the survey).

In the UC Davis study, 82% of those associating themselves as a furry did not own a fursuit. It also found a relatively higher trend of homosexual and bisexual orientation compared to the societal mean.

But overall, less than 2% associated themselves as Zoophile/Plushophile; nearly 50% reported themselves as monogamous.

It's interesting the facts that emerge when someone actually *talks* to the group of people, rather than the occasional extrovert. :)

Andreas #69 3:13 PM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

Good article; a bit unexpected after all this negative attention the last years.
It's almost been 10 years now since I left the fandom and sadly I never met people that gentle, caring and friendly again.
Chosing a fox for the interview was probably just coincidence but it was a wise choice ;)
Don't let them step on your tails - you know who you are!

gobo replied to comment from fatwomenhavecurves #70 3:16 PM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

@fatwomenhavecurves, you're falsely assuming that all furries are automatically into erotic art of non-anthropomorphic animals. Accusing all furries of being zoophiles and then comparing them to pedophiles is insulting, incorrect, and unacceptable. Your logic is based on invented facts. Please refer to the study that MrScience quotes instead of simply posting insults. Thank you.

Antinous / Moderator replied to comment from fatwomenhavecurves #71 4:14 PM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

because robin hood is a fox, and the big breasted woman is a human, albeit an exaggerated version of one. and the people who like robin hood in That Way go to art forums that feature erotic art of animals, both anthropomorphic and non-.

Your reasoning is so specious, I scarcely know where to begin. Perving on vulpine Robin Hood is no more related to real-life fox-fucking than eating gummi bears is related to hunting grizzlies. Life is much, much easier when you learn to distinguish fantasy from reality.

a pedophile who not not diddle kids is still a pedophile because of their attraction; i apply the same logic here.

Once again, when you start disapproving people's fantasies, you stop getting invited to fun parties. Do you really want to spend your life running bake sales for the Puritan Housewives Guild?

visit any uncensored furry art site and you will see a lot of work that very much indicates to the contrary. and if someone who is attracted to animals is "sick," as you put it, is it really so much of a stretch to attach the same term to someone who is attracted to drawings of animals, or animals acting like people, or people dressed as animals?

Is it so much of a stretch to assume that gay men are all closet goatsees? That 2girls1cup is the norm for what heterosexual men find appealing? You're projecting the motivations of the few onto a whole group.

Anon replied to comment from MrScience #72 5:32 PM Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 Reply

David Rust's interviews were conducted more than ten years ago, and I half suspect that one of the reasons they keep being brought up is because they paint such a flattering view of the fandom, as you point out.

More realistically, Kyle Evan's 2008 refresh of David Rust's essay puts the prevalence of zoophiles at 17%, and this census puts it at 14%. Zoophiles do exist in furry fandom, and there are a fair number of them. A lot of people do dress up in costume; there's nothing wrong with that, from what I can tell they're having a blast. So why talk around it?

This gets back to the issue of whitewashing. Furry fandom is, realistically, no more or less sexualised than any other human proclivity, but -- faced with a series of popular portrayals reducing it to a fetish (somewhat ridiculously so -- pondering the practical logistics of trying to mix sex with a fursuit ought to suggest why it hasn't caught on outside The Shining) -- furries have, with no small justification, attempted to (equally ridiculously) strip it entirely of its outside-the-mainstream components.

On balance, and until furry has completed its transition from squicky Internet bête noire to fondly-teased stepchild (a "yeah, but they're our witches" mode -- "weird but harmless" as Xydexx puts it) perhaps it's best to err on the side of the sterile. I agree that BoingBoing has got it as close to "right" as I've seen. It would seem to me, though, that one of the first steps to a wider acceptance of the fandom would be an honest, well-rounded portrayal of it -- anything else comes off as trying to hide something.

I don't think this honesty would be as problematic as many furries seem to fear -- particularly executed well. The reality is that, while there are zoophiles in the fandom, and people who don't think they're really human, and so on, these elements (regardless of their size) don't actually inform the character or nature of the fandom. The weight of furry fandom as a creative endeavour, driven by people who want to write, draw, or roleplay -- and do it with other people (per the quote from Mark Evanier above) -- far outstrips the influence of its outliers. As we'd expect.

I've noticed that there's a lot less pointed criticism these days -- even less outright mockery. My guess, though, is this has come less from an actual change in the component of the fandom -- or even the fandom becoming a "tired meme" -- than it has something far more critical, this being that we furries have developed a sense of humour and a thicker skin about our hobbies. Which, I can put up with that. All the same, though, I hope that furry fandom continues to experience this détente, and that it can do it without marginalising the less-than-savoury aspects.

bersl2 replied to comment from MrScience #73 12:29 AM Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 Reply

You should probably see the work done by Dr. Gerbasi. She's the only academic I know of who have actually published in a journal about us (I never found a paper from the UC Davis group).

fatwomenhavecurves #74 8:24 AM Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 Reply

r: ntns, why ws my cmmnt dltd? ws t whr sd yr lgc ws fl, r ws t tht pssbly tchd nrv by brngng p bbyfrs nd smn-blstd plsh nmls?

r: nn #72, thnk y fr pstng tht. 14-17% s fr mr thn slct fw f fndm -- tht's lmst ffth tht s, t s mstr fx's wn wrds, "sck."

Anon #75 10:07 AM Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 Reply


It bears noting that this is not statistically different from the most common cited general prevalence figures for zoophilia, 10%-15% (from Alvarez and Freinhar's 1991 "A prevalence study of bestiality (zoophilia) in psychiatric in-patients, medical in-patients, and psychiatric staff" in vol. 38 of the International Journal of Psychosomatics). In other words, all the percentages tell us is that furries are roughly comparable to the general population. Since there's no credible reason to assume furries should track differently for zoophilia than the general population, this makes sense.

(On the other hand, it doesn't make sense that furries would be a couple of standard deviations below the normal prevalence, which is why the 2% number is highly suspect)


I've corresponded with Dr. Gerbasi before, and I respect her a great deal but, even setting aside the biases (understandably generated within the context of getting IRB approval) of sampling only at conventions, I'm not certain a psychological approach is really the best way to tackle understanding the fandom, do you? I'm inclined to agree with a sociologist I spoke with a couple weeks ago on the issue, who suggests that it promotes a pathological interpretation of the fandom. Your thoughts?

gobo replied to comment from fatwomenhavecurves #76 11:45 AM Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 Reply

@fatwomenhavecurves, you're being deliberately offensive. That's called trolling hereabouts. Your logic in assuming that all furries are zoophiles because some of them fantasize about anthropomorphic animals is faulty and, as you say so eloquently, "fail". BoingBoing has run stories in the past about people who own "lovedoll" body pillows; did you bring up 'semen blasting' on that story, too? Do you assume that all anime fans are pedophiles (as you like to make pedophilia comparisons of furries, too)?

Furries separate fantasy from reality quite well. Try it!

bersl2 replied to comment from Anonymous #77 6:20 PM Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 Reply


How, then, do you propose that one approach the fandom for study? More ethnographic-style work? Maybe if it were done in a more thorough way.

As for using psychological methods, I like having peer-reviewed, hard data to refer to. They're a bit harder to refute. I'll take whatever we can get in that area. Sure, maybe a sociologist would be a better fit. Bring them on, then. I welcome any serious sociologists to study us.

Rob Beschizza #78 5:31 AM Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 Reply

fatwomenhavecurves offers a final 'opposing viewpoint', as he or she describes it, from the land of ban: "Go fuck an ewok already."

Published here to illustrate to anyone wondering why it is that we do these things.

Pantherman replied to comment from Anonymous #79 7:53 PM Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 Reply

Ah yes, the innocents of youth. Trouble with that is, that furry isn't the only thing that can come from the "juvenile" as you put it.

There are fetishes out there that deal with being a diaper wearing "young'un" (being a toddler/baby again). Flat out diaper fetishes (inability to control your "waste removal" as a child), some where the "kid" is still getting milk from the "mother" despite the "kid" being more than 30 years old.

I've worked at a escort service in my younger days as their web programmer and site construction.

I am a furry, have been since 1996, and let me tell you, there are more things out there that you'll consider "sick" "perverted" and "wrong" if furries bug you.


Xydexx replied to comment from David #80 12:39 AM Friday, Mar 12, 2010 Reply

It just goes to show that what we see depends on what we look for.

David's story of the artist who turned off his filter on FurAffinity reminds me of a similar incident at a furry convention a few years back: Someone had decided to deliberately go into the adult art show, and then was shocked and appalled he found adult artwork there.

I really don't understand why people who don't want to see adult material insist on looking for it so they can complain about it.

Xydexx replied to comment from Anonymous #81 12:57 AM Friday, Mar 12, 2010 Reply

I'm not a denialist, just honest. I don't think anyone, not even myself or Jaded Fox, is denying sex is _part_ of the fandom. It's a part of _any_ fandom, so Furry certainly isn't unique in that respect. But just because a fandom includes sexual aspects doesn't mean said fandom is _about_ those sexual aspects. Claiming Furry fandom is "about" sex is a blatant misrepresentation.

The focus of Furry fandom is anthropomorphic animals. What people see beyond that depends largely on what they look for. If they want to see G-rated stuff, they'll find it. If they want to see naughty stuff, they'll find it. If they want to whine and complain about what they find, they'll find other whiners and complainers to join them.

And the rest of us will probably ignore them and keep drawing art and writing stories and making costumes and enjoying Furry fandom like we always have... because who wants to hang out with a bunch of whiners?

Anon #82 3:25 PM Friday, Mar 12, 2010 Reply

All-in-all, pretty good stuff. As others have sad, it's a little disappointing that this was so focused on the roleplay angle - I'd rather not see one aspect of the fandom is applied to the entire group, so seeing furry defined as "a subset of geeks who like to role play as fictional anthropomorphic characters with human traits" bothers me. Other people want to dispel the idea that it's all about sex; I want to dispel the idea that everybody has a "fursona" :p

That said, it was nice that the guy talked about being a theatre major and having multiple characters. That does at least help demonstrate that not it's not just a case of "furries make anthro versions of themselves".

One day, I would like to see an article deal with the fact that even if people like furry sexually, that doesn't make necessarily make it a fetish. Personally, I create and enjoy furry porn, but not /because/ it's furry; it could be human, it could be fantasy critters like elves or whatever - I don't care. As long as it's sentient and human-ish and otherwise suits my fancy, species isn't much of an issue.

Anon replied to comment from gnp #83 7:30 PM Tuesday, Apr 6, 2010 Reply

Totally agree with you man, to tell you I'm a rare breed, I'm Muslim and Furry and I see no problem between the two, come to think of it Islam and the Furry fandom have many similarities, they're both easy to enter into, they're both under a lot of media flak and all, the media makes Islam look like a violent and intolerant faith when it clearly isn't to the vast majority of Muslims, and the media makes the furry fandom look like a group sexual deviants, when the majority of furs are not into that sort of thing. The sexual aspect of the furry fandom will be a continuing problem like in Islam puritanical salafis and wahabis(the group the Bin Laden belongs to)and other extremists will be a continuing problem in Islam, because Islam has no pope and technically every Muslim is his own priest meaning your going to have many, many different interpretations of the faith from Fundamentalist to the very liberal, but most would be in the middle being on the moderate side, I'm leaning on the liberal side though, but the furry fandom its the same thing, there's no universal code of conduct like a 'furry ten commandments' its essentially if your interested in anthropormorphic animals than your a furry, no matter if your clean or dirty, in Islam everyone is united on the concept 'there's no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger' no matter if your peaceful or not we can't excommunicate anyone. The furry fandom like any group you'll have your moderates who are the majority and then you'll have your extremists like any group. In the end these groups are like any other group and every group is bound to have its crazies, because no one is perfect and no group or religion is perfect, its not how the people in the group behave its what that group is based on.The thing is the media only goes after what's sexy and what's exciting, like the media don't like show a normal Muslim often because its boring, the media in turn don't like to show a normal furry because its boring, when the see a Muslim going crazy the media will jump on that, so will if they find fursuiters doing inappropriate things they'll jump on that too, the media or the news more about entertainment and most of all money and ratings above all else than honest news.

Anon #84 9:39 AM Wednesday, May 12, 2010 Reply

I compliment Lisa Katayama for not sensationalizing one aspect of the interests of furries. And to the person who gave the interview for seeming to tell it from the heart.

As an active member of the furry fandom since 1992, and having just turned 30, I grew up with the fandom. Literally. When I started it wasn't about sex, it was about sexy pictures (I was a teenage male afterall) and being a fanboy for certain artists. Just like many are with the comic world and all those sexy or mocho pics/figurines of super heroes. I feel the perception of the fandom as whole started to get more about the sexuality of the fans instead of the art right around 2001 or so. Stories on how furries are nothing but deviants who have sex in costumes attracted a great many people to the fandom, and those people became the majority in the last 5 years or so. While I enjoy the sexuality of the people, I also feel that the portrayal of the fandom as a whole as being nothing-but-sex is wrong. I've spent many a night with cosplayers from SDCC who are just as sexually active as a good number of furs. For me, I enjoy the sex I have with other furs both in and out of a fursuit, but that kind of thing I keep in the bedroom where it belongs. Furry is not ONLY about sex to me, it's still about great art that are both clean and naughty and great artists. I'm still a bit of a fanboy over some artists just because of their sheer TALENT! If Rembrant were alive I'd fanboy him too.

It comes down to this: The furry fandom is about art; be it clean or dirty. The interests of furry-fans go the whole spectrum from nothing but clean art (see the Burned Furs Movement) to sexy pin-ups to the weirdest thing you've ever seen in Hentai.

My note to the media: Don't focus on one thing related to the fandom and say that's what the fandom is all about. Say "It's all about perception; this is what these particular people are into, not what the fandom is all about, but this type of people exist in every fandom out there. From Star Trek to Civil War Re-enactors." I mean seriously people, haven't you ever seen Anne Rice fans? Or Disney fans (who aren't furs)? Or go spend some time at an Anime convention and talk to some of those Cosplayers. Or hell, most Klingons out there!

But that'll never happen, the media in general just wants sensationalism.

Anon replied to comment from gobo #85 4:57 PM Wednesday, May 12, 2010 Reply

"I have just as much of a problem with furries being labeled as "sick", actually. Why is it "sick" for someone to admit that Robin Hood, as a fox, is swave and sexy, but "normal" for someone to, say, fetishize the sort of anti-gravity-boob women featured in Heavy Metal magazine?"

The last Saturday in January, I was in a Michael's Arts & Crafts ordering a custom mat for a piece of furry art I bought at the Further Confusion art show. Remembering all the accusations of bestiality -- "YOU GET THE HOTS FOR IMAGINARY CRITTERS? THAT'S SICKO!" -- while under the *sparkling* gaze of dozens of *Sparkling* Vampire eyes of dozens of Edward Cullens (sparkle sparkle sparkle) on a solid wall of Twilight movie poster bins.

Anon replied to comment from Pantherman #86 5:08 PM Wednesday, May 12, 2010 Reply

"There are fetishes out there that deal with being a diaper wearing "young'un" (being a toddler/baby again). Flat out diaper fetishes (inability to control your "waste removal" as a child), some where the "kid" is still getting milk from the "mother" despite the "kid" being more than 30 years old."

The Furry version of these are called "BabyFurs" and they are the latest group of "Spandex Commandoes" to glom onto Furry Fandom. Every couple years some sexual fetish types "go Furry" for the acceptance you get in the fandom. They put on some ears and tails, loudly proclaim "I'm Furry!", and do what they were going to do anyway, using a furry con as a meetpoint. ("Spandex Commandoes" refer to the first such group -- extreme homosexuals cruising the con for fresh meat. The last high-profile group were the "Zoos" -- bona-fide bestiality fetishists -- about 10-15 years ago.) They usually outlive their welcome and drift off after a few years, leaving their reputation and a lot of "war stories" behind them.

Tip: If you see anyone at a Furry con wearing brightly-colored bib overalls and/or toting a blankie -- especially if they smell of poopy diapers -- RUN. At one con hotel years ago, two furries I know had the bad luck to end up in the room next to BabyFur Central, and there was a ventilation connection between the two rooms. Now THEY have some con war stories...

Anon replied to comment from Rob Beschizza #87 6:48 PM Friday, May 14, 2010 Reply

celestialelf #88 4:35 AM Saturday, May 29, 2010 Reply

Thought you might like my machinima on Furry theme,
The Raven King & Captain Fox......

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