Furry fandom

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Cartoon anthropomorphic vixen (female fox), a typical furry character

The furry fandom is a subculture interested in anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics.[1][2][3] The term "furry fandom" is also used to refer to the community of people who gather on the Internet and at furry conventions, or otherwise participate in the subculture.[4] Individual members of the fandom are known as "furries".

Although the fandom has no exact starting point, it's generally agreed to have begun during the 1980s[5] in America and has continuously grown since the 1990s.[6]: 2 

The fandom is decentralized and isn't based around a single media franchise or person.[7]: 215  Furry writing and art are widespread amongst the community, and typically feature fantasy cartoons with anthropomorphic animals. Other aspects of the fandom include crafts, role-playing, conventions, and online communities.

History

Origins

The exact origin of the furry fandom is unclear.[6]: 2  Some possible origins include media such as Kimba, the White Lion, Richard Adams' novel, Watership Down (and its 1978 film adaptation), as well as Disney's Robin Hood as oft-cited examples.[5]

Some fans have argued the fandom can trace its roots from the 1910s or 1920s.[8]: 8  It is also thought to have its roots in the underground comix movement of the 1970s, a genre of comic books that depicts explicit content.[9][page needed] In 1976, a pair of cartoonists created the amateur press association Vootie, which was dedicated to animal-focused art. Many of its featured works contained adult themes, such as "Omaha" the Cat Dancer, which contained explicit sex.[10][page needed][unreliable source?] Vootie grew a small following over the next several years, and its contributors began meeting at science fiction and comics conventions.[citation needed] According to the documentary The Fandom, the furry fandom has its roots to anime and sci-fi conventions during the same decade.[11]

According to Fred Patten the concept of furry originated at a science fiction convention in 1980,[5] when a character drawing from Steve Gallacci's Albedo Anthropomorphics started a discussion of anthropomorphic characters in science fiction novels. This led to the formation of a discussion group that met at science fiction conventions and comics conventions.

1980s

During the 1980s, furry fans began to publish fanzines, developing a diverse social group that eventually began to schedule social gatherings.[8]: 57 

The term furry fandom was being used in fanzines as early as 1983, and would later become the standard name for the genre by the mid-1990s, when it was defined as "the organized appreciation and dissemination of art and prose regarding 'Furries', or fictional mammalian anthropomorphic characters".[12]

During the mid-1980s furries had parties at larger conventions.[13] By 1989, there was interest to stage the first furry convention,[8]: 57  Confurence 0, and was held at the Holiday Inn Bristol Plaza in Costa Mesa, California.[13]

1990s

Around the 1990s was when the fandom experienced growth.[14][15][6]: 2  During this decade, the internet became accessible to the general population and became the most popular means for furry fans to socialize.[16] The newsgroup alt.fan.furry was created in November 1990, and virtual environments such as MUCKs also became popular places on the internet for fans to meet and communicate.[17]

The early 1990s was when the furry fandom first appeared in Singapore.[18] 1992 was the earliest when furries in England and Wales had meet ups.[8]: 68  At this time Confurence was the only furry convention until Furtasticon appeared in 1995.[8]: 10  That same year was when Eurofurence started but it was a house party with only 19 attendees back then.[8]: 75–76 

According to a thesis by the Mississippi State University from 2008, the early furry conventions were not sexual in nature and there were not as many homosexual or bisexual men in the fandom at the time. But by the mid-1990s, the influence of hentai made the furry fandom began to develop as a sexual subculture.[19]: 83–84  Also during this time, the furry fandom emerged in Brazil.[20]

The late 1990s was when mainstream media first took notice of the fandom.[21]: 8  With The New York Times,[5][22] Kare 11 ,[23] and NPR reporting on the subculture.[24] In 1997, Anthrocon was born.[8]: 18–20 

Due to the increasing sexual nature and bad reputation at the time a group called the Burned Furs formed in September 1998.[8]: 61 [19]: 84–85  The Burned Furs argued against the sexual aspects in the fandom and were considered homophobic.[19]: 85  In 1998, was when the first furry convention for Canada appeared.[8]: 38 

The late 1990s was when the furry fandom first appeared in Russia with the first furry events being held in various cities in the country.[25] One of these events was called RusCon, which took place in Moscow on February 26, 1999, but at the time it was a birthday party with 6 attendees.[8]: 10, 199–200  Internet newsgroup discussion in the 1990s created some separation between fans of "funny animal" characters and furry characters, meant to avoid the baggage that was associated with the term "furry".[26]

2000s

When the 21st century came, the furry fandom experienced rapid growth.[27][28][29]

The earliest mention of the fandom being a sexually deviant group was from an episode on Sex Y2K called “Furries and Plushies”. Then in March 2001, an Vanity Fair article called “Pleasures of the Fur” promoted the sexual stereotype of the fandom.[21]: 8–9  According to Daily dot the article Pleasures of the Fur cemented the fandom as a community of animal-obsessed sex-havers.[30]

At the end of 2002 Yahoo began deleting furry sites due to adult content starting discussions among furries online about persecution.[31]: 317  Then by 2003, the show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation aired the episode Fur and Loathing.[21]: 9–10  According to some scholars the episode appeared to be influential in introducing many outsiders to the furry fandom and presented stereotypes about the community.[32]: 254  The same year was when the first furry convention first for France appeared.[8]: 10  Around this time users on various sites like 4chan began to mock or criticize furries.[33]

In 2004 RusCon changed its name to Rusfurrence and became a formal convention.[8]: 201  That same year AnthroAsia was created leading to the growth of the furry community in Southeastern Asia.[34] Furry conventions then first appeared in Poland, Czech Republic,[8]: 10  and Japan during 2005;[8]: 205  in Australia during 2006, for New Zealand in 2007.[8]: 10 From 2007 to 2008 a semi parody controversy called YouTube Furry War took place when furries got tired of being made of on the internet.[35]

The furry community in the Philippines can date its origins to 2008 from a Yahoo group.[36][37] During that same year furry conventions started to appear in countries like Brazil, Ukraine, Switzerland, and England.[8]: 10  The first peer review study on fandom called also took place during this year.[6]: 3 

2009 was when the furry fandom gained momentum in Colombia when furries met online and later meet in person.[38]

2010s

During this decade, serious studies of the fandom started to be published[39]: 12  and it began receiving more mainstream attention with much of the coverage representing the community in a negative light as well as misrepresenting the majority of the community.[40]

2011 was when furry conventions first appeared in Scotland and Denmark.[8]: 10  The same year was when the first furry event for Finland took place.[8]: 10, 87  Then the first furry convention for Italy occurred in 2012, for the Philippines in 2014;[8]: 10  for China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia in 2015,[8]: 10, 51, 125  for Thailand in 2016.[8]: 125 

A discussion on FurAffinity revealed that there was a perception among the community that the fandom was getting younger with there being some intergenerational conflict between older members and younger members. There were also stories appearing in the fandom about journalists going undercover at furry conventions to find deviant behavior and later leaving disappointed.[41]: 275–276  Then the first furry convention in Spain took place in January 2017.[42][8]: 92 

Daily dot in 2019 reported that furry hate began dying in recent years around that time.[33] That same year Rolling Stone reported how the fandom has increased in popularity especially among kids in generation Z due to internet culture and geek culture becoming mainstream.[43]

2020s-Present

In 2020, Rolling Stone and New York reported that the fandom has become more family friendly although the sexual elements are still present.[44][45]

Inspiration

A majority of furries connect to the fandom in their teen years[46]: 313  with the average furry being interested in the fandom around 16.[47]: 67  Bullying and social isolation can play a part in gaining interest in the fandom.[48]

Allegorical novels, including works of both science fiction and fantasy, and cartoons featuring anthropomorphic animals are often cited as the earliest inspiration for the fandom.[5] A survey conducted in 2007 suggested that, when compared with a non-furry control group, a higher proportion of those self-identifying as furries liked cartoons "a great deal" as children and recalled watching them significantly more often, as well as being more likely to enjoy works of science fiction than those outside of the community.[49]

Activities

According to a survey from 2008, most furries believe that visual art, conventions, literature, and online communities are strongly important to the fandom.[50]

Crafts and art

Sculpture at Further Confusion

Fans with craft skills create their own plush toys, sometimes referred to as plushies, and also build elaborate costumes called fursuits,[51][page needed] which are worn for fun or to participate in parades, convention masquerades, dances, or fund-raising charity events (as entertainers).[52] Fursuits range from designs featuring simple construction and resembling sports mascots[49][page needed] to those with more sophisticated features that include moving jaw mechanisms, animatronic parts, prosthetic makeup, and other features. Fursuits range in price from $500, for mascot-like designs, to an upwards of $10,000[citation needed] for models incorporating animatronics.[53] While about 80% of furries do not own a full fursuit,[54][50][49] often citing their expensive cost as the decisive factor,[49] a majority of them hold positive feelings towards fursuiters and the conventions in which they participate.[54][50] Some fans may also wear "partial" suits consisting simply of ears and a tail, or a head, paws, and a tail.[49]

Data has shown that 90% of artwork published each year to popular furry sites like Furaffinity are labeled as safe for work.[6]: 110–111 

Furry fans also pursue puppetry, recording videos and performing live shows such as Rapid T. Rabbit and Friends and the Funday PawPet Show, and create furry accessories, such as ears or tails.[55]

Role-playing

Anthropomorphic animal characters created by furry fans, known as fursonas,[56] are used for role-playing in MUDs,[57] on internet forums, or on electronic mailing lists.[58] A variety of species are employed as the basis of these personas, although many furry fans (for example over 60% of those surveyed in 2007) choose to identify themselves with carnivorans.[59][60] The longest-running online furry role-playing environment is FurryMUCK, which was established in 1990.[61] Another popular online furry social game is called Furcadia, created by Dragon's Eye Productions. There are also several furry-themed areas and communities in the virtual world Second Life.[62] According to therapist Xu Peng, role playing in the furry fandom can be a good way relive stress.[63]

Conventions

Furry fans prepare for a race at Midwest FurFest 2006

Sufficient interest and membership has enabled the creation of many furry conventions in North America and Europe. A furry convention is for the fans get together to buy and sell artwork, participate in workshops, wear costumes, and socialize.[64] Anthrocon, in 2008 the largest furry convention with more than 5,861 attendees,[65] is estimated to have generated approximately $3 million to Pittsburgh's economy that year.[66] Another convention, Further Confusion, held in San Jose each January, closely follows Anthrocon in scale and attendance. US$470,000 was raised in conventions for charity from 2000 to 2009.[67] As of December 2017, Midwest FurFest is the world's largest furry convention.[68] It had a self-reported 2019 attendance of 11,019.[69]

A University of California, Davis survey from 2007 suggested that about 40% of furries had attended at least one furry convention.[54]

Websites and online communities

Webcomics

There are several webcomics featuring animal characters created by or for furry fans; as such, they may be referred to as furry comics. Notable comics include: T.H.E. Fox, which was first published on CompuServe in 1986, predating the World Wide Web by several years,[70] Kevin and Kell by Bill Holbrook, which has been awarded both a Web Cartoonists' Choice Award and an Ursa Major Award,[71][72] and Twokinds, by Tom Fischbach, another Ursa Major Award recipient.[73][74][75]

Social media sites

There are online art community websites like Fur Affinity which as of 2014 it is said that Fur Affinity contains 750,000 members.[76]: 11  There is also Inkbunny, SoFurry and Weasyl; social networking sites Furry 4 Life and FurNation.[77]

Furry communities also exist on sites like YouTube,[78] VRChat,[79] Twitter, Amino, Instagram,[40] Baidu Tieba,[80] and Reddit.[81]

Furries are also prominent on TikTok.[43] Furries were big early adopters of TikTok in the United States and built significant followings.[82]

Furry lifestyle

The phrases furry lifestyle and furry lifestyler first appeared in July 1996 on the newsgroup alt.fan.furry during an ongoing dispute within that online community. The Usenet newsgroup alt.lifestyle.furry was created to accommodate discussion beyond furry art and literature, and to resolve disputes concerning what should or should not be associated with the fandom; its members quickly adopted the term furry lifestylers, and still consider the fandom and the lifestyle to be separate social entities. They have defined and adopted an alternative meaning of the word furry specific to this group: "a person with an important emotional/spiritual connection with an animal or animals, real, fictional, or symbolic."[83]

In their 2007 survey, Gerbasi et al. examined what it meant to be a furry, and proposed a taxonomy in which to categorize different "types" of furries. The largest group—38% of those surveyed—described their interest in furry fandom predominantly as a "route to socializing with others who share common interests such as anthropomorphic art and costumes."[84] However they also identified furries who saw themselves as "other than human", or who desired to become more like the furry species which they identified with.[16][49][relevant?]

Sociological aspects and demographics

Some furry fans create and wear costumes called "fursuits" depicting their characters

According to Fred Patten, by 2010 the fandom grew to have more than 100,000 members.[39]: 3  A 2011 study estimated there that are 1.4 million to 2.8 million furries worldwide.[85] In 2014, a thesis from James Madison University said the fandom is estimated to have 20,000 to 50,000 members.[76]: 5  While CNN in 2018 and 2019 said there is about 100,000 to 1 million people in the furry fandom.[86][87] In 2018 Huffpost stated roughly 1 million people worldwide identify as furries.[88]

Participation in the furry fandom can be modification of totemism or the personification of one’s self in the image of an animal in order to borrow a certain set of qualities.[89]

One of the most universal behaviors in the furry fandom is the creation of a fursona. More than 95% of furries have a fursona. Nearly half of furries report that they have only ever had one fursona to represent themselves; relatively few furries have had more than three or four fursonas; in part, this is due to the fact that, for many furries, their fursonas are a personally significant, meaningful representation of their ideal self.[90]: 50–74  However, furries, along with sports fans, report different degrees of personality traits when thinking of themselves in their everyday identity compared with their fan identity.[90]: 129–133  Some furries identify as partly non-human, with 35% saying they do not feel 100% human, and 39% saying they would be 0% human if they could .[90]: 78 

According to Q-Notes, the fandom is also known to be inclusive as well as welcoming and non-judgmental.[91] Inclusion and belongingness are considered central themes in the furry fandom;[citation needed] compared with members of other fandoms such as anime or fantasy sport, furries are significantly more likely to identify with other members of their fan community. On average, half of a furry's friends are also furry themselves.[90] : 123–133  One study found that 80% of furries believe acceptance is a fundamental part of the community.[92]

Furries rate themselves higher (compared with a comparison community sample of non-furries) on degree of global awareness, global citizenship identification (psychological connection with global citizens), and environmental sustainability.[90]: 18  It is also considered a norm in the furry fandom to accept others and value diversity.[47]: 264 

According to one study 5% of furries are otherkin.[93]

When compared with the general population, homosexuality and bisexuality are over-represented in the furry fandom by about a factor of 10.[49] According to WebMD, furries are 5 times more likely to identify as LGBTQ than the general population.[94] A 2021 report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation stated that 70% of furries are LGBTQ+[95] while Paper stated that 80% of furries identify as LGBTQIA+.[96]

Relationship status

A study from 2007 involving 600 people stated that approximately half of the respondents reported being in a relationship, of which 76% were in a relationship with another member of furry fandom.[54]

Education

Approximately 70% of adult furries have either completed, or are currently completing post-secondary education.[90]: 12 

Interests and other fandoms

21% of furries consider themselves to be bronies,[90]: 32–33  but bronies especially cloppers are also stigmatized even within the furry fandom.[46]: 313  44% consider themselves to be anime fans, and 11% consider themselves sport fans.[90]: 32–33 

A 2020 survey with over 500 participants found that 64.1% were gamers, 34.7% artists, 31.8% anime fans, 28.3% roleplayers, and 42.5% sci-fi fans.[97]

For some millennial furries the sonic franchise was a gateway. Members of the Sonic fandom also create alter egos like the furry fandom.[45]

Mental health

In 2013, 6.1% of furries reported having a form of an anxiety disorder. This contrasts with the general population where the prevalence of anxiety disorders is estimated to be around 30%. The same year 9.2% of furries have been reported to be diagnosed with ADHD, while ADHD for the general population is estimated to be around 2% to 16%.[98]

Autism is higher in the furry fandom than the general population with it being estimated in 2013 that approximately 4% of furries in one study were diagnosed were Asperger’s Syndrome with it being suggested that furries are at least 2.25 times more likely to have the condition.[98] Duquesne University said that it is estimated that 10% to 15% of furries have been diagnosed or self diagnosed with autism.[99] According to Furscience this aspect is probably not unique to the furry fandom and is a characteristic of any fan group.[100] WESA, stated that the fandom has provided autistic people a place for comfort and acceptance.[101]

Sexual orientation

The furry fandom is one of the few fandoms that is not predominantly heterosexual.[6]: 7 

According to four different surveys from 2007, 2008, and 2011, 14 to 25% of the fandom members were homosexual, 37 to 52% bisexual, 28 to 51% heterosexuality, and 3 to 8% other forms of alternative sexual relationships.[54][102][103][104]

A 2020 survey by FurScience involving 559 participants found that 28.8% of participants were homosexual, 10.1% heterosexual, 23.4% bisexual, 16.5% pansexual, 10.5% asexual, 5.8% stated they didn't know, and 4.9% were other.[97]

Gender

The furry fandom is overall male-dominated, with surveys from 2007 and 2008 reporting that around 80% of furries are male.[54][50][102]

Furries are more likely to identify as transgender compared to other fandoms.[6]: 123 

A 2016 study found that 78–85% of furries identify as male, the remaining identify as female; while most are cisgender, 2% are transgender. That study also found that 0.2% were intersex.[90]: 10 

A 2020 study involving 559 participants found that 73.2% were male, 10.1% female, 12.5% transgender, 12.5% non-binary, 4.2% genderqueer, 5.6% genderfluid, 2.9% agender, and the remainder were other.[97]

Some scholars have argued that fandoms are predominantly male due to misogynistic practices. However, this is possibly not the case for the furry fandom.[6]: 7  One survey found that 85% of furries wished there were more women in the fandom and it also found that 68% of women thought the fandom was a intimidating place for women.[105]

Age

According to Moscow University for the Humanities, the furry fandom is mainly prevalent among youth.[89] Furscience said that furries tend to be teens or young adults. Although there are many furries in their late 20s or 30s in some cases there are even those in their 70s or 80s.[106] A furtopia poll back in 2013 found the average age for the furry fandom is about 20.[41]: 275  Adjectivespecies in 2017 found that the average was 19.[6]: 5 

The term greymuzzle is considered an affectionate term for older furries.[6]: 6  Greymuzzle can also be loosely define furries over 30 years in age[41]: 275  or used for furries who been in fandom a lot longer.[107] There are fandoms that worry younger fans push out older fans, but this is rare in the furry fandom with older furries being highly respected and viewed as pioneers.[6]: 6  Older furries typically view being a furry as more of a hobby while younger furries tend to view it as a way of life and an identifying feature to their identities. The fandom struggles to keep its large proportion of minors in the community from seeing adult content.[41]: 275–276 

A 2001 survey found that 5% of furries are ages 16 to 17, 26% 18 to 22, 26% 23 to 28, 26% 29 to 35, 10% 36 to 40, 6% 41 to 45, and 1% 46 to 50.

While a survey complied in 2007 and later published in September 10 of 2008 with 276 participants found that 25% of furries were in ages 13 to 17, 51% where ages 18 to 22, and 13% ages 23 to 28, 3% ages 29 to 35, 2% ages 36 to 40, 3% ages 41 to 45, 1% ages 46 to 50, and 1.5% ages 51 to 60.[102] While a survey complied and published in 2008 with 5000 participants found that 1.3% were ages 10 to 14, 28.3% 15 to 19, 37.2% 20 to 24, 17% 25 to 29, 7.7% 30 to 34, 4.1% 35 to 39, 2.4% 40 to 44, 1.3% 45 to 49, 0.5% 50 to 54, and 0.2% 55 to 59.[103]

A 2011 study found that 75% of adult furries are under the age 25.[85]

A 2012 survey with 3267 participants found that 5.3% of them were in ages 10 to 14, 39.7% ages 15 to 19, 31.2% 20 to 24, 13.1% 25 to 29, 4.7% 30 to 34, 2.1% 35 to 39, 1.5% 40 to 44, 0.9% 45 to 49, 0.9% 50 to 54, and 0.6% over age 55.[108][109] The fandom has provided a place for children who do not fit in.[110]

In 2015 it was reported that 90% of the fandom was under the age 30[92] and in 2016 Furscience estimated that 20% of furries are under the age 18 based on results from other studies.[111][page needed][112]: 4–5 

Region and nationality

Due to the fandom’s online nature, it exists in many parts of the world.[113]: 28 

A survey from 2008 with 276 participants found that 78% of furries are from North America, 15% from Europe, 5% from Australia, 1% from Asia, 0.7% from South America, and 0.3% from Africa.[102] While a 2013 survey involving over 3000 participants found that 78% of them were from North America, 16% from Europe, 3% from Australia, and 66 other countries.[114]

A 2020 study involving 559 adult participants from 41 countries found that 34.9% of participants were from the USA, 16.5% from Canada, 11.1% from China, 9.1% from UK, 8.2% from Germany, 4.5% from Finland, 1.3% from Australia, 1.3% from France, 1.3% from the Netherlands, and 1.1% were from Portugal.[97]

Religion

According to a Slate article, the furry community might be among the best possible communities to expand religious tolerance.[115]

A 2001 survey found that 20% of furries were neo-pagan, 18% Christian, 5% Jewish, 5% non-denomination theist, 33% agnostic/undecided, and 10% atheist.[102]

While a 2008 study involving 276 participants found that 28.6% were Christian, 1% Jewish, 1.5% Buddhist, 0.5% other eastern philosophy, 6.5% Neo-pagan, 2.5% non-denomination theist, 34% Agnostic/undecided, 20% Atheists, and 5% were other.[102] Another 2008 study with 5000 participants found that 8.1% were Catholic, 7.8% Protestant, 10% other Christian, 8.1% Pagan, 20.8% Atheists, 24.8% Agnostic, and the rest were other. There were lesser known religions in the other option with a few Satanists but most participants who marked themselves as other practiced their own religion.[103]: 16 

A study from 2016 found that in terms of religious preference, 23.5% of furries self-identified as Christian, 16.8% as atheist, 16.8% as agnostic, 11.0% as Pagan/Wiccan, 2.4% as Buddhist, 1.2% as Jewish, 1.1% as Deist, 0.9% as Satanist, and 26.2% as "other" (including "participants who had their own belief systems, were undecided, refused to answer, or had uncommon belief systems").[90]: 16–17 

Race and ethnicity

15% to 20% were members of an ethnic minority group.[116] A 2016 survey found that 83–90% of furries self-identify as White, with small minorities of furries self-identifying as Asian (2–4%), Black (2–3%), and Hispanic (3%).[90]: 7–10 

A 2020 study with 559 found that 78.6% of participants were white, 1.6% Black, 1.6% Indigenous/Native, 15.3% East Asian, 3.2% Hispanic, 0.7% middle eastern, and 0.7% were Central Asian/Indian.[97]

According to Jessica Ruth Austin, racism in the fandom could be a cause for it being predominantly white but there are few studies on this in the furry fandom. Scholars have also argued that many fandoms are predominantly white due to capitalism.[6]: 6 

Politics

A 2008 survey with 5,000 participants found that 1.4% were extremely conservative, 15% other, 11.3% extremely liberal, 33.8% liberal, 30.2% moderate, and 8.3% conservative.[103]

A 2012 survey with over 3,000 people found that over 26% of furries were advocates for animal rights.[108]

A 2019 FurScience survey found that 45% of furries identified as being liberal, 30% democrat, 15% conservative, 5% Trump supporters, 4% communist, 4% anarchist, 3% nationalists, 11% centrist, and 13% considered themselves to be Antifa.[117]

Jay Dotson stated that the furry fandom has features of neoliberalism by promoting individualism, commodifying ideas, and uncentral art markets.[118]: 100  Some conservative members of the community have felt unwelcome in the progressive environment of the fandom.[119]: 34 

Furries, as a group, are more politically liberal and less religious than the average American or other comparable fan groups such as anime fans,[90]: 18  while still containing contentious groups such as neo-Nazis and alt-right activists whose affiliation is partly in jest and partly in earnest[120] with nazi furries in higher ranks believing they are a path to a white ethnostate.[121] Some alt furries claim their symbols or activism is merely a joke but joke or not this has resulted in online flame wars.[119]: 34 

Occupations

One survey from 2008 with over 200 participants found that 1% of them worked in emergency services, 0.7% worked in education, 9% worked in computer profession, 1.5% were scientists, 1% worked in management, 3% worked in art profession, 53.2% were students, 4% worked in service industry, 10% were unemployed, and 11.6% were other.[102]: 11 

A 2020 survey with over 500 participants found that 3.3% were in the military, 16.9% were musicians, 21.7% writers, and 7.3% were YouTubers.[97]

Reception and coverage

Early portrayal of the furries in magazines such as Wired,[122] Loaded,[123] Vanity Fair,[124] and the syndicated sex column "Savage Love" focused mainly on the sexual aspect of furry fandom. Fictional portrayals of furry fandom have appeared on television shows such as The Simpsons,[125][126] ER,[127] CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,[128] The Drew Carey Show,[129] Sex2K on MTV,[130] Entourage,[131] 1000 Ways to Die,[132] Tosh.0,[133][134] Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule,[135] and 30 Rock.[136] Most furry fans claim that these media portrayals are misconceptions.[137][138]

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review focused on debunking these myths and stereotypes that have come to be associated with the furry fandom.[139] A reporter attending Anthrocon 2006 noted that "despite their wild image from Vanity Fair, MTV and CSI, furry conventions aren't about kinky sex between weirdos gussied up in foxy costumes", that conference attendees were "not having sex more than the rest of us",[140] and that the furry convention was about "people talking and drawing animals and comic-book characters in sketchbooks."[141] In October 2007, a Hartford Advocate reporter attended FurFright 2007 undercover because of media restrictions. She learned that the restrictions were intended to prevent misinformation, and reported that the scandalous behavior she had expected was not evident.[142]

In Brazil there is little negative media representation on furries in the country due to cultural characteristics and its lack of presence in the country.[143]

Recent coverage of the furry fandom has been more balanced.[citation needed] According to Ian Wolf, a 2009 article from the BBC entitled "Who are the furries?" was the first piece of journalism to be nominated for an Ursa Major Award, the main awards given in the field of anthropomorphism.[16][144][145]

Huck Magazine and BuzzFeed news called the furry fandom the most misunderstood subculture in America.[15][109] While CNN called it one of the world's most misunderstood subcultures.[86]

Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster Jim Powell was sharing a hotel with Anthrocon 2007 attendees a day before the convention and reported a negative opinion of the furries.[146] Several downtown Pittsburgh businesses welcome furries during the event, with local business owners creating special T-shirts and drawing paw prints in chalk outside their shops to attract attendees.[147] Dr. Samuel Conway, CEO of Anthrocon, said that "For the most part, people give us curious stares, but they're good-natured curious stares. We're here to have fun, people have fun having us here, everybody wins".[148] Positive coverage was generated following a furry convention that was held in a Vancouver hotel where a number of Syrian refugees were being temporarily housed. Despite some concerns and warnings by staff that there could be a seriously negative culture clash if the two groups interacted, the refugee children were on the whole delighted to meet the convention goers, especially the ones in fursuits, who seemed like cartoon characters come to life.[149][150]

According to sociologist Craig J. Forsyth, more recent media attention has paid more attention on how normal furry lifestylers are, particularly surrounding furry conventions.[151]: 289 

In addition, the fandom has grown to be such a significant demographic that by 2016, the film company, Walt Disney Studios marketed their animated feature film, Zootopia in pre-release to the fandom to encourage interest in the film, which proved a major critical and commercial success.[152]

The furry fandom has been called by some scholars “the lowest rung in the geek hierarchy”.[6]: 32  According to Grinnell College, one study found that the Otherkin community looked down upon furries. Despite both communities having similar many elements.[153] Despite 6.1% of anime fans being furries one study found that anime fans view furries negatively.[47]: 86 

When YouTuber Hypnotist Sappho came out as a zoophile it caused outrage and made the internet view the furry community unfavorably.[154] In 2021, several furries rallied against Sappho and accused her of manipulating minors into zoophilia.[155]

One study found that 61.7% of furries from ages 11 to 18 experience bullying, higher than the average bullying rate in the United States.[87] According to Furry survey, about half of furries perceive public reaction to the fandom as negative; less than a fifth stated that the public responded to them more negatively than they did most furries.[50] Furry fans' belief that they will be portrayed as "mainly obsessed with sex" has led to mistrust of the media and social researchers.[16]

Sexual aspects

The sexual side of the furry fandom is one of the most controversial aspects to non-furries.[40] According to some scholars, it appears to an extent that diversity of sexuality is welcomed in the furry community.[32]: 254  The fandom has also provided marginalized individuals a way to explore sexual identities.[29] According to sociologist Meredith G. F. Worthen, the form of sex present in the furry fandom is a form of sexual deviance that is highly misunderstood and stigmatized due to its association with children’s themes.[46]: 283–284  The view that the fandom is purely sexual probably comes from similar misconceptions and stereotypes associated with LGBTQ people.[44]

The executive director of FurryPinas Brian Uy stated that all fan communities have groups that sexualize their fandoms.[156]

Sexual aspects within furry fandom include erotic art and furry-themed cybersex.[157][158] According to Joe Strike, most of the sexual aspects in the furry fandom are through art rather than real life.[15] Jessica Ruth Austin argued that arguments that furry porn constitutes bestiality fail when analyzing the composition and that viewing furry porn is no different from viewing human porn.[6]: 123–130 

The term "yiff" is sometimes used to indicate sexual activity or sexual material within the fandom—this applies to sexual activity and interaction within the subculture whether in the form of cybersex or offline.[141][159] However, the term yiff is considered more of a tongue-in-cheek term in the fandom.[160][161]

According to from Craig J. Forsyth, most furries do not engage in animalistic sexual activities.[151]: 288  According to Bust the fetish community in the fandom is actually quite small.[162]

Sexual attraction to furry characters is a polarizing issue.[104] In an online survey from 2008 with 276 participants, 33% of furry respondents answered that they have a "significant sexual interest in furry", another 46% stated they have a "minor sexual interest in furry", and the remaining 21% stated they have a "non-sexual interest in furry".[102] But in that same study 46% had little interest in the sexual aspects.[163]: 18 

In a later survey from 2011 with 4,300 adult furry respondents, 37% answered that sexual attraction is important in their furry activities, 38% were uncertain, and 24% answered that it has little or nothing to do with their furry activities.[104] In that same study and a later 2016 survey with 912 participants found that over 50% of them stated there interest in the fandom was sexually motivated to a degree.[161]

A survey at furry convention with 455 adult participants from 2013 found that 96.3% of male furry respondents reported viewing furry pornography, compared with 78.3% of females; males estimated 50.9% of all furry art they view is pornographic, compared with 30.7% female. Furries have a slight preference for pornographic furry artwork over non-pornographic artwork. 17.1% of males reported that when they viewed pornography it is exclusively or near-exclusively furry pornography, and only about 5% reported that pornography was the top factor that got them into the fandom.[164]

A 2018 survey involving over 300 adult male furries found that 96.1% of participants to an extent had sexual motivations for being a furry. The survey stated that sexual motivation and these sexual interests do not justify discrimination or stigma and that they can’t know the extent to which their findings generalize the population of all male furries since it’s impossible to recruit furries randomly or representatively.[161] In a letter to the editor B. Grey stated that the emphasis of sexuality in the results may be due to the emphasis on sexuality in the survey announcement.[165]

In 2020 one poll found that 60% of furries did not find the fandom sexual at all and the remaining 40% typically enjoy NSFW furry art rather than have sex in fursuits.[44]

Importance of sex

A 2008 study with 5,000 participants found that only 16% of participants viewed sex as important in their furry lives with 51.4% of participants stating sex had a small or extremely small importance in their furry lives.[103]

According to Craig J. Forsyth, several unpublished surveys have found that sex is important to a only a minority of furries.[151]: 288  Emily Gaudette stated that most furries are actually less interested in sex than how the media believes.[166]

BDSM

A 2019 survey found that 39.2% of adult furries are into BDSM.[117] Although BDSM is overall a common fetish.[167][168][169] According to Mel Y. Chen, the furry fandom to an extent has a shared path with BDSM subcultures.[170]: 105 

Vore

One survey back in 2019 estimated that 11.1% of adult furries are into vore.[117] According to Vice there is some crossover with vore communities and the furry fandom with some people fantasizing about being a predator or prey.[171] However, vore is considered deviant within the furry fandom due to it being viewed as promoting cannibalism.[6]: 142 

Plushophilia

A 2008 study found that less than 1% of furries had an interest in plushophilia (sexually aroused by stuffed animal toys). The older, lower results, which are even lower than estimated in the general population, were due to the methodology of questioning respondents face-to-face, which led to social desirability bias.[103]

Zoophilia

One survey from 2008 found that 17% of the furries identified as zoophiles. An earlier survey, conducted from 1997 to 1998, reported about 2% of furry respondents stating an interest in zoophilia. The older, lower results, which are even lower than estimated in the general population, were due to the methodology of questioning respondents face-to-face, which led to social desirability bias.[103] A later survey in 2012 with over 3000 participants stated that 14.94% were zoophiles.[108] Then a 2019 study found that only 6.9% of furries were into zoophilia.[117] In contrast, one comparative study from 1974 and 1980 showed 7.5% of sampled students at University of Northern Iowa reporting zoophilia,[172] while other studies find only 2.2% in 2014[173] to 5.3% in 1980[174] expressing fantasies of sex with animals.

A survey from 2008 stated that most furries had a more moderate view of zoophilia. The study had 5,000 participants with 22.6% of them having an extremely negative view of zoophilia, 23% negative view, 36.3% ambivalent, 13.5% positive view, and 4.5% had an extremely positive view of it.[103]: 26–27  In 2013 Adjectivespecies tried to increase awareness about zoophiles and stated that they are part of the furry community.[76]: 26–27  However more recent sources have stated that both bestiality and zoophilia are considered taboo in the furry fandom.[175][176]: 6 [32]: 254  There have also been discussions in the fandom about distinguishing art of anthromomorphized animals from art of bestiality[47]: 277  and furries often ban zoophiles from their communities.[155]

Notable furries

Many writers, such as Fred Patten,[177] have been known to be a part of the furry fandom. Fred Patten was admitted to the furry hall of fame in 2011. Other members like Samuel Conway or amateur comedian 2 the Ranting Gryphon have also been admitted to the hall of fame.[6]: 6 

SonicFox is openly a furry. They are known to often participate in fighting game tournaments in the fursuit of their fursona, a blue-and-white anthropomorphic fox.[178]

SYFY called furry YouTuber Vix one of the most famous furries on the internet.[179] They joined the furry fandom back in 2014 but created their fursona back in 2011.[40] According to them they were the first furry exclusive YouTube channel to reach 100,000 subscribers.[180]

Cameron Bess, the son of venture capitalist Lane Bess, became the first furry to fly to space, in December 2021, when they flew on Blue Origin's NS-19 mission.[181]

See also

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Further reading

External links