Furries Fans of anthropomorphized animals like Sonic the Hedgehog or Pokemon have been the target of much mockery from users of message boards such as Something Awful. Most media outlets cheap furry costumes as a subculture of sexual fetishists who bond around a shared passion for dressing up as animals for sexual encounters. Here’s a little primer on the furry subculture that might help dispel some common misconceptions.
Does this suggest that all furries always engage in the activity of wearing furry costumes?
Even though fur-suiting and the furry community are often lumped together in the media, the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, which investigates the fandom, has shown that fur-suiters make up a small percentage of the fanbase.
Only 30% of convention attendees in 2007 said they had ever worn a fur suit, and only 26% said they owned one. Nearly half of the Furry Fiesta 2014 attendees said they had a tail, making it the fur-suit accessory with the highest ownership rate. Thirteen percent said they had a complete fursuit, while 34 percent said they wore some kind of Chinese wholesale store furry costume or accessory.
Just a sexual fetish? That doesn’t seem to explain why so many people identify as “furries.”
Not at all, however, there are sexual overtones, just as in any other fandom (comics, video games, etc.). Some members of the furry subculture engage in sexual activity with other members of the community; this practice is known as “yiffing,” named after the sound foxes make when they are having sex. Furred pornography is a vast genre and often relatively comparable to conventional porn but with qualities added.
Although they were heavily involved in the fandom, they said that it was mostly a place for nonsexual expression. Only 21.4% of women reported spending any time at all on sexual material whereas 34.0% of males did so while online roleplaying. Almost half of the male furries and the vast majority of female furries said that sexual material had nothing to do with their initial interest in the fandom:
So, then, what exactly is a furry?
In the widest sense, a “furry” is someone who enjoys media featuring “anthropomorphized” animals. These are creatures who have been given human traits, such as the capacity to communicate or walk on their hind legs. This includes a wide variety of people, from casual viewers of media starring anthropomorphic animal characters (like Sonic the Hedgehog or Pokémon) to those who create a detailed fuzzy persona (“fursona”) to represent themselves and those who identify as “otherkin” but do not believe they are fully human.
Social psychologist and Anthropomorphic Research Project team member Dr. Courtney “Nuka” Plante of the University of Waterloo compare furries to other fan groups like comic book readers and Star Trek fans. It has its beginnings in the science fiction fan community. For example, “furry artwork” might refer to a fan’s preference for comic books with animalistic characters or paintings depicting people with animal characteristics.