The Subculture that is the “Furry Fandom”

What is a furry? The first of several meanings is as basic a description as can be discerned. An interesting and, strangely, distinct subculture, the group referred to as “furries” or the “furry fandom” are a study in entertainment fanaticism. What began in the 1980’s science fiction fan demographic, developed into a booming social construct, of which, tens of thousands of people around the globe now relate.

The “furry” movement began as a fan base for anthropomorphic fictional characters. These often resemble animals with human-like characteristics, such as walking bipedal and possessing the ability to talk, think and act as a typical human being would, under normal circumstances. These characters are predominantly found in cartoons and anime. Such examples would be Walt Disney’s animated “Robin Hood,” which portrayed the iconic hero as a fox. Several sites, including also insist that the term includes “the exploration, interpretation and examination of humanity and human values through anthropomorphic expression.”

The “furry” movement experienced further growth as the advent of conventions took hold of the fan base. These gatherings have been known to drawn numbers of fans that rival the largest comic book or science fiction gatherings across the globe. Some of which, including the famed Anthrocon, gross an average of $400,000 during their yearly followings.

These large, group-based functions have also given rise to the growth of online and true-life role-playing. With the creation of MUD gaming, chat and instant messaging, the “furries” further enhance their lifestyle and fandom with real-time interaction. They may playfully lick, scratch and pet each other, in the public setting, while encompassing the full “animal experience” in complete costume. Many of the “furry” culture have exhausted their finances on elaborate costumes, similar to college or professional sports mascots.

What is a furry? Definition number two is all but as charming. Despite the fun-loving attitudes that the majority of “furries” exhibit, there is a deviation that exists, mush as with any other subculture or genre of fandom. A “furry” is someone with the obsession of a sexual fetish, which involves having (or even requiring, depending on their level of carnal craving) intimate and sexual relations with individuals dressed up like furry animals. Though well outside of the norm, according to many “furry” websites, this form of sexual deviancy is a growing, niche segment of the fandom. However, many are quick to point out that this segment often subscribes to ideals outside of the traditional realm of “furry” culture and has been given the recent moniker of “plushies,” to differentiate the two classes from one another.flurry

This issue is further heightened by television references and a large array of adult video exhibitions frequenting the internet. For example, a quick browser search will divulge a plethora of photos and videos showing men and women in full animal garb, romping and performing their sexual fantasies en mass.

What is a furry? If you don’t further understand the mindset and complicated nature of the genre, you never will. It is an undeniably-crazy subculture that, for many, is hard to imagine or fathom. It is not, however, for the traditionalist or self-righteous.

Furry Fandom

Furry fandom is one of the most recognized and creative fandoms on the convention circuit, but what many onlookers may not know is that it has a wide presence in other media as well as a long history. Furry fans, often referred to simply as furries, have many interests and represent their hobby or lifestyle in a number of ways. The furry subculture is one that has a presence at many geek and fan events, so it can be helpful to know the basics.

This fandom is one that centers around anthropomorphic animals, that is, animals that have human features. Some cite the fandom as beginning with works of literature like Richard Adams’ Watership Down, where rabbits think and talk the way that humans do, complete with their own cultures and rituals. The anthropomorphic nature of the individuals featured in this fandom varies widely. For example, some people prefer depictions that walk upright and converse as people do, while for others, the ideal depiction of a furry is someone who looks human except for animal ears, tail and paws. The later depiction is also referred to by the Japanese term nekomimi and is often considered its own fandom. Some people like to simply read and write stories about furries, while others acquire a persona which is a version of themselves as an anthropomorphic animal. flurry

Furry fandom is one that took off in the late nineties and early aughts, and though it started on the Internet, it has become a serious presence with a high number of participants at science fiction and fantasy conventions, media conventions and anime conventions. Over the past few years, this fandom has reached a level of prevalence that it has been possible to hold fairly large conventions for people who are interested in it.

As with any fandom, furries all have their own level of interest. Some people merely love the aesthetic, while other people are lifestylers, meaning that their furry nature is prevalent throughout most if not all of their lives. Some people feel more comfortable in their fursuit than they do in standard clothing, and their favorite ways to interact are true to their persona. Some furries identify in a way that is specifically nonhuman, and within their lifestyle, they seek to behave and interact in a way that they feel is truer to themselves while also looking for people who have similar feelings and interests.

People show their devotion to this fandom in a number of ways. Some spend a great deal of time discussing their interests on online social media, while others spend their time off visiting conventions and other places where they can meet others like them. There is a strong crafting mentality with many furries, who love to create costumes that represent their own personas. This might involve sewing, sculpting masks or creating heads that can cover the wearer’s own head. Still others enjoy roleplaying, either in person or online. These roleplays may involve matters from romance to vast world-spanning adventures.

When it comes to furry fandom, it is important to remember that everyone’s view is different, and that you cannot necessarily tell someone’s interests just by looking at them. Be respectful, and as always, never touch someone who is in a fursuit or in a costume unless you have explicit permission to do so.