Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Let's Talk About Furries, Part I - Creature Research

Yup. That's right. I said the "f" word.


This post is part Creature Research and part Meenanful Life because I'll admit it - I'm a furry.

I'll admit it took a while for me to admit it. I've always liked anthro animals, but to say I'm a FURRY? That had so many more implications.

So as I struggled with this new side of myself, I began to wonder. WHY is there such a problem with furries?

That's a lot of history to go through.

First off, how do we define the term "furry"? It's not an easy thing to do, and almost everyone, furry or not, will give you a different answer. It basically will boil down to a person who enjoys anthropomorphic animals.

Or at least, that's what we'd like to say. Google knows that there's a lot more implication there, which we will get to.

But what are anthropomorphic animals? Again, there's a lot to define here. The dictionary definition will tell you that it's an animal with human characteristics, rather than a human with animal characteristics.

NOT a furry...
But human characteristics means a lot of things. It could mean something dramatic, like a cat that walks on two legs and wears fancy suits and glasses.

Mordecai from Lackadaisy
Or it could simply mean something like a normal animal that speaks.

Rashard from The Summer King Chronicles
Both are viable "anthros" and both can fit under the "furry" moniker, depending on how you define it.

But where did they all COME from? What prompted the idea of anthro or furry in the first place?

Humans have been exploring the notion of anthropomorphic animals for literally thousands of years. We see it a lot in the ancient polytheistic religions of old.

The Egyptian God Ra
Most people turn to Egypt for this, as a lot of their gods had animal heads. Not quite "anthro" though, since most of their bodies were human, but it was a start. We see similar things with the Sphinx, talking dragons, and centaurs. There are even incidences of anthro style animals in the bible, if you count the snake in the garden and the beasts mentioned in Revelation.

The trend continued through literature. Fenris, Hugin, and Munin of Norse mythology. The Pooka of Celtic tradition, which often takes the form of an animal. The tanuki of Japan, a mischievous raccoon spirit, or even the wendigo of the north Native American tribes. Anthro animals are everywhere.

But I truly believe fairy tales changed everything.

Things like the Grimm's Fairy Tales and Aesop's Fables became children's literature. These things were filled with anthro and talking animals. As our cultures developed, we believed more and more than fairy tales, as well as the lessons they taught and the animals that were a part of them, were only for children.

Modern culture enforces this a lot. Surgary cereals designed for kids have a lot of animal mascots, for example.

Kid's TV tends to have a lot of anthro animals in them as well. My Little Pony, Loony Toons, Little Bear, Richard Scarry, Sponge Bob. . . the list goes on forever and it covers a LOT of ground age wise.

Video games tend to have a similar thing going with Sonic the Hedgehog, Pokemon, Crash Bandicoot, and a plethora of other crazy anthro animal video games.

Here's looking at you, Sally
People tend to believe that anthros are only for kids.

This is where the line starts to become blurred.

For many of us, we've had anthro animals popping up everywhere in our various forms of entertainment for years. As we grow older and grow into new tastes, sometimes lines are blurred.

Suddenly entertainment that has anthro animals are being made not only for kids, but also for adults.

Look at things like Kung Fu Panda.

Obviously this was designed for children, but when you're hiring voice actors like Jack Black, the film is bound to have some more adult humor hidden in there. Sure enough, it does, as does other films such as Shrek, Frozen, and even Zootopia (but that's a totally different topic to address).

With this blurring of lines, it's easy to see why adults have taken to the furry world. Is the only reason we have furries? Certainly not. But I believe it's contributed.

So when we blur lines, we let stereotypical "kids" entertainment bleed into "adult" entertainment.

And what do we think of as adult entertainment?

Sex. Plain and simple.

Sex is everywhere. It's in your dramas, it's in your comedies, it's in your books, your music, your movies, your video games. . . literally everywhere. There's not a genre of entertainment that does not have some kind of sex attached to it somewhere.

Which brings us to furries. Most people hate furries because to them, being a furry means being a part of a weird fetish community.

In all honesty, there is a side of furries that includes are more sexual side. Just like there is a sexual side to Star Wars or Doctor Who or Harry Potter or literally any other form of entertainment on the planet.

But since furries aren't attached to a single, uniting "fandom" the way Star Wars or Harry Potter is, people make unprecedented stereotypes about it. It doesn't help the fact that the sexual side of furries tends to be LOUD even if it's not nearly as big as the fandom as a whole. For that matter, you can't even google the term "furry" without turning Safe Search on.

So people, being the creatures they are, tag ALL furries with this idea that they ALL have a strange sexual fetish with anthro animals.

But that's not true.

My "fursona" named Winter
There are THOUSANDS more furries out there that simply like anthro animals, me being one of them. And it's really not fair to label all furries this way.

Just like it's not fair to label people by their sex, religion, race, creed, or age either. Yet, we still do it.

But WHY do we do it?

Honestly, it's because it's easy. It's so easy to take someone and dump them in a stereotypical box and never think about them as an individual. Humans are lazy, and critical thinking takes time and effort, so it's so much easier to just divide and assign.

And nearly everyone has been the victim of stereotypical hate over our lives. Whether its something relatively minor like a girl getting laughed at for liking video games to something bigger like being denied a job because of race or religion, nearly everyone has felt that shame of being rejected because of something you are or like.

The only way to fight that is to make the conscious effort to learn more about people. We need to see people as more than just the things they like or the parts that make them up. We need to see them as individuals. As HUMANS.

This is how we fight hate. By refusing to put people into boxes.

So why not start with something like furries? ;)

Be prepared for PART II and PART III of this exploration of furries, coming soon!

What have you learned about someone new recently?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please post a comment! I allow anonymous comments, so no annoying sign ups and hoops to jump through. I can't wait to hear from you!