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September 24, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Roxy Heart

Hello Roxy. I am a big time geek and member of the fandom for the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: I’m a “Brony”. The reasonI am writing to you is because of something I stumbled upon in the fandom. Some of the fans of the show like to go to conventions in costume (nothing unusual about that right, Cosplay is pretty cool), but apparently some of the people who dress up in the full body pony suits are also part of the “furry” subculture. I am curious what you think about furries. I’m not thinking of yiffing in any furpiles any time soon, but they get mocked so often, and I was wondering if you think that’s fair. 

Ever since a particular episode of CSI brought the furry fandom into the popular consciousness, people have been trying to wrap their heads around a community of people who dress up in full body mascot costumes, get together, and fuck. The truth is, of course, that furpiles and “yiffing” are only parts of the wider furry subculture. For many people, being a furry is simply about exploring aspects of one’s identity, or using the costuming as a form of escapism into a completely non-sexual fantasy. Feeling out of place in your own skin and wanting to be able to put on a new one that carries its own personality, history and character is a fascinating thing to do, and has an obvious appeal to people dealing with gender, body image or other identity issues.

But, of course, sex still is a big part of the furry fandom. So where does the sexual side of furry subculture come from? Roxy really doesn’t understand why people could find it surprising. Role play is a common part of sexual experience, allowing people to translate their more unusual fantasies into authentic human contact. Just like how a swingers club or the BDSM community, can participate in fantasies on a larger scale, so can people in animal suits. The “animal” aspect also shouldn’t seem that unusual. On one level it’s simply another fantasy, no different than wearing a doctor’s scrubs, or a policeman’s outfit. Having a costume so complete that you can happily assume a new identity doesn’t change the fundamental “normalness” of this behaviour, it just means you’re pretty darn good at it.

On the other hand, sexualisation of animals is widely regarded as taboo and equivocated with physical acts of bestiality. This condemnation of zoophilia, while near universal perhaps lacks logical basis, given the difficulty that exists in tying down a concrete harm. Intriguingly, some studies have found that up to 10-15 per cent of all adults have fantasised about or had sex with an animal, implying that sexual attraction to animals is actually somewhat prevalent, but strongly denied. Of course, being a furry is not the same as being a zoophile: a quick survey of furry art reveals a strong tendency towards anthropomorphisation and the creation of characters with human primary (cock and vag) and secondary (tits) sexual characteristics. In these cases the furries depicted are not really sexualised animals, but animalised sex-objects, a subtle but important distinction.

That people form these odd sexual fixations is not really that unexpected, since people routinely fetishise inanimate objects (balloons, for example), and fetishising animate objects in some ways seems more understandable. Fetish theorists (excellent job title) speculate that formative experiences during youth can entrench later fetish behaviour which— given that Disney movies frequently include confident, charismatic, talking animals— probably goes someway to explaining a generation of furries.

So, looking at the issue with her Cold Hard Logic Glasses, Roxy is pretty convinced that furries are not really freaks at all, and are instead just normal people in an unusual sexual subculture. They aren’t animal fuckers, and they aren’t crazy. They’re just people, but ones with awesome sewing skills.

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