Wednesday, January 11, 2017

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

Oh boi, more furries! Read Part I here.

Last week we talked a little about some of the history of anthropomorphic characters emerging in our culture and a couple of theories of why we have furries.

This week, let's talk about furry culture.


In all honesty, furry culture is as diverse and expansive as any other race, religion, or nationality based culture. Because it's not centered around any specific fandom, and the definition of "furry" is so broad, furries come from all walks of life. There are Christian furries, Muslim furries, straight furries, gay furries, old furries and young furries.


Because we have this established common ground, furry culture has a reputation among anyone who's even begin to scratch the surface of it's culture as being INCLUSIVE. Your age, gender, religion, race, or nationality means nothing, because you've found common ground in the love of anthropomorphic animals.

That of course doesn't mean that there aren't problems. Furry drama is just as common as drama in any other culture or fandom.

However, the inclusive side is one of the things that drew me to the fandom. Most furries are open and loving and fiercely protective of their own. They are the kind to stand up for social justice, something that's always been dear to my own heart.

Furries also love making people smile.

Many people know the term "fursuiting," but for those who don't, it's a reference to the fact that many furries will get full mascot suits made of their characters and wear them to furry conventions.


Because fursuiters generally communicate with mascot gesturing rather than words, since heads generally muffle words, it means that they can cross barriers in a lot of ways.

An example of this happened in a Canadian fursuit convention this year. The hotel the convention was at was hosting several Syrian refugee families. Fursuiters were warned about this and told that they should not try to engage the refugees unless they engaged first, to help make them feel safe.

Turns out, the refugee families had lots of kids. And they were instantly drawn to the big colorful animals.


There are videos and news reports everywhere showing the kids engaging with furries. Families reported that they felt welcome and safe. The convention even sought out those fluent in Arabic in an effort to help cross language barriers and help the refugees.

How amazing is THAT?

Furry conventions too, are well known for collecting for charities during their meetings, usually something animal related.


Combined and working together, as furries often do, we can do a LOT of good.

But I mentioned in the previous post that there was a big "turn off" for most people outside the fandom. The sexual side.

Honestly, there's a sexual side to everything. The "rule 34." But most fandoms are not defined by the sexual side.

Furries, from the view of outsiders, are defined by it. A google search of furries will show you that. But while their is that sexual side, not everyone engages in it. And while it's perfectly fine for people to engage in that side of it, it is not fine for outsiders to define the entire fandom in this manner.

Overgeneralization at its "finest."


I believe, on the whole, furries just want to be understood. They want to spread light. They want the community that comes with sharing a common interest.

And they work on building that community. We build support groups, not just for help against those who have been hated on for being a furry, but for anything else you can think of.

There are furry suicide hotlines, furry mental illness awareness, artists that dedicate their whole art platform to helping others overcome problems, and a multitude of groups designed to help furries who are facing prejudice for their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

And we stand STRONG.

But people see the term "furry" in front of these things and immediately it becomes the target of ridicule.

No one likes to be ridiculed for the things they like.

Think of a time you picked up on some kind of trend or fandom or just something you generally liked and you got made fun for it. Nearly everyone on the planet has had this experience before.

With me, it was Pokemon.


For whatever reason, it's totally okay to like Pokemon in grade school, or in college, but if you're caught with a Pokemon game in high school, it's like THE END OF EXISTENCE.

I got made fun of SO MUCH in my high school days for playing Pokemon. It got to the point where I just started withdrawing completely.

I think this contributed to my fear of keeping my furry-ness in the closet, so to speak. I got made fun of already for liking something TOTALLY HARMLESS, but with the reputation of furries, I was bound to get it even worse.

But I'm not being the best representation of that fandom that means so much to me if I'm afraid.

So rather than being afraid, I'm going to help foster understanding. When we take the time to learn about things that we're afraid of, we grow. We see people as individuals. We break down stereotypes. This is how we make our world a better place.

So today, I'm proud to say that I am a furry, because furries want to make the world a better place, one fursona at a time. ;)

For now, I'll leave you guys with some fantastic furry poetry, fiction, and art.

POETRY:
The Lost To Whom We Speak - Poetry and artwork (used with permission)

Alone, we wandering mortals pray
For some small mercy lying
There in the voids of your eyes;
Long dissolved, drowned,
Dead under the waves of time.
Yet though seeming blind, you are not;
To mortal eyes your emptiness
Offers up a mind for a mirror,
Upon which my fears dissipate.
I look up to you for my worldly solace,
Mourning my life’s afflictions upon your ears;
For there are none living whom I dare
Throw open the doors of my heart;
None who have wisdom enough
To chart the course through troubled waters.
Some days I dream open-eyed, whether
The shaper of ways might shift our states;
Dissolve my flesh, strip clean my bone,
And instead have your touch caress,
As if time was to turn upon itself.
Would we risk more than words,
Would you peel back my black lips
With those time-worn fingers
And with unearthly tongue, bestow a deathly kiss
Gifting speech beyond the weather of mortal years?
But that is a dream, nothing more,
And I doubt whether I am noble
To bind fast all my feelings behind worded-fetters,
For whatever my impulse, my inclinations,
My soul is left a weary spirit who longs to speak,
But for all others my tongue dissolved like your own.


LITERATURE:

The Song of the Summer King Chronicles by Jess E. Owen.











The Her Instruments Series in the Pelted Universe by M.C.A. Hogarth











Opal Wine - Short Story Collection by Alan Loewen











Watership Down by Richard Adams (May he rest in peace)











The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques (May he rest in peace)











ARTWORK:

Resolute by @orangeddragoness (used with permission)

Fursona - Dwale (used with permission)










Trouble (used with permission)
Art by Kiryu








Artwork by @tessgarman

Yamazaki (used with permission)








Response time! Talk about a time when you were discriminated against because of a hobby, fandom, or interest you had and how you overcame it.

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