Furry

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Synonyms: furrydom, furridom, fur fandom, furdom, furries, anthros
See also: Kemono, Fursuit, Feral (fandom), Yiff, Autism and Fandom, Cringe
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Furry refers to a type of anthropomorphic animal character and also to fans of these characters. The typical furry character walks on two legs, wears clothes, talks (unless mute) and thinks like a human and lives in a human-like society; animals who meet some of these qualities but not all may or may not be considered furry.

The word "furry" is not strictly literal- birds, lizards, and really any other sort of hairless animal, may be considered "furry" (in the context of this fandom) although they do not have fur.

A furry is an anthropomorphic animal, that is an animal having some of the characteristics of a human; like being able to walk on two legs, speak human languages, use tools etc. Many cartoon characters are furries: Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, etc. And they make frequent appearances in childrens' literature such as the works of Beatrix Potter. They are not just a recent phenomenon either; furries also appear in Shakespeare and Aesop's fables, and in darker works like The Island of Dr. Moreau, Animal Farm, and every werewolf novel written. Fans of furry art & literature often refer to themselves as furries too. Online they typically assume furry identities, and have furry characters on role-playing systems like MUDs/MUCKs. For some of these furries, there is a deeper connection that goes beyond appreciation of artwork and stories. This can include concepts such as totemism and spiritual theriantropy. Whatever fuels their fascination with these animal-human hybrids, furries often have social gatherings - sharing stories, ideas, and art and generally having fun.


--FurNation[1]

Terminology

Fursona

Fursona is a combination of "furry" and "persona." Furries make fursonas, who are characters they use to represent themselves in some way, though not every furry has a fursona. A fursona does not have to have a similar personality to the creator; in fact, they are sometimes purposely different. A shy furry might create an out-going fursona, for instance. Fursonas are often assumed to be self-inserts, and while they can be that, they are usually more like alter-egos used for various forms of role-playing, though not every furry role-plays or used their fursona(s) for role-play. There is some discourse on whether a fursona is necessary to be a furry; some self-identified furries may not have one, while others may have more than one. Sometimes a fursona is "retired" when the artist does not want to use it anymore.

Canines, specifically huskies, wolves and foxes- are the most common fursona species. Dragons and felines are also extremely popular. According to at least one study, different demographics are more likely to choose different animals. Straight furries are more likely to be wolves and gay furries are more likely to be huskies, for example. Men are more likely to be red foxes and women are more likely to be arctic foxes.[2]

The International Anthropomorphic Research Project found the following species (out of a list of 28) to be the most popular: hyprid, wolf, fox, dog, big cat, dragon, and so on. Out of the hybrids, these combinations were the most popular: other, dog/wolf, fox/wolf, dragon/wolf, cat/fox, tiger/wolf, and so on. Most fursonas were found to be completely anthro with the least popular being completely feral.[3]

Lingo

  • Scaly: a term for furries with scales, such as dragons, lizards, dinosaurs, snakes, etc.
  • Ferals are animals with more physically realistic body types. They usually walk on all fours, but they may wear clothes or speak. Ferals are sometimes seen as separate from furry rather than falling under the umbrella.
  • Original Species: An original species is one created by an artist, rather than simply based on an actual animal. They are original characters more often than fursonas.
  • Popufur: A popular fursuiter, a furry Big Name Fan.
  • Poodling: Fursuits using only the head, hands/feet, and tail, while wearing normal clothes.

Discussion on Definition of "Furry"

Merriam Webster quotes Vox's Dylan Mathews, who said:

In the broadest sense, a furry is someone with an interest in anthropomorphized animals — that is, animals who have been given human characteristics, like an ability to talk or walk on their hind legs. That encompasses a wide spectrum, from people who are simply fans of TV shows and video games featuring anthropomorphic animal characters (like Sonic the Hedgehog or Pokémon), to people who develop a highly specific furry character ("fursona") they identify with, to "otherkin" who see themselves as not fully human on a spiritual or mental level.What is a Furry?[4]

There have been ample discussions across multiple years and platforms in which furries and non-furries have tried to decide what exactly counts as a furry. For example, some furries disagree on whether or not media-based anthropomorphic animals can be furries. Those who see media-based anthros as non-furries would classify a character like Timon from The Lion King as simply anthro, but not furry. Subsequently, this viewpoint would see any anthropomorphic animal fan characters as non-furry as well, such as any animal fan character of The Lion King.[5] However, this perspective appears to be a minority. Wikipedia cites that it was media-based fandom itself that inspired the furry fandom, specifically "Kimba, The White Lion released in 1965, Richard Adams' novel Watership Down, published in 1972 (and its 1978 film adaptation), as well as Disney's Robin Hood as oft-cited examples."[6] Another furry cited Zootopia and My Little Pony as being undeniably a part of the furry fandom.[7] A furry survey conducted on Feb 2020, which had 162 responses, also showed that the viewpoint of media-based furries being non-furry was a minority (discussed later in this section).

There is also some discussion on whether or not one must actually participate directly in the fandom to count as a furry, or if they may simply enjoy what the community creates. For example, does a fan of Zootopia have the right to call themself a furry even if they don't make fan art, fan characters, fanfiction, fursuits, etc? Or does the enjoyment of furry media inherently make one a furry? One user on Quora asks a question regarding this, saying "What makes a furry a furry?"[8] One reply from Allison Clevenger said: "some furries say you have to just like the art of anthropomorphic animals to be one, some say you have to own a fursuit or have a fursona." Allison also goes into depth discussing the difference between a therian (similar to otherkin) and a furry, saying that because most therian's believe their soul is an animal, but don't exactly want a fursuit nor have fursonas, they aren't furries. They said: "You can be a therian and a furry, but there is an exact requirement to be a therian.

Nathan Gamble's reply to the Quora question discusses the difference between animal costumes and fursuits. They said: "Dressing up in an animal onesie or a mascot costume doesn’t make you either of these things - they might make you LOOK LIKE an anthropomorphic animal, but you’re not one, you’re a human in a costume."

Another user talks about how "furry" is self defined, rather than something innate.

I think it mostly just depends on how YOU see yourself.

A furry generally is someone who likes the idea of anthropomorphic animals, likes to draw them, or dress up as them.

But if you don’t see yourself as a furry, you don’t have to be considered one!

And yeah, if you consider yourself a furry, then onesies do count, but not everyone that wears animal onesies is a furry.Rea Nomefalso

Reddit Discussion

A Reddit discussion on r/Furry was held on May 19, 2015, called "Definition of What's Considered Furry." The original poster asked the forum what they considered to count as furry, and said during their time online they'd come across two main viewpoints, quoted as as: "Anything featuring animals prominently is furry, or at the very least has elements of furry. Ergo things like Star Fox, Secret of NIMH, Redwall, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Lion King, and Kimba the White Lion would be furry," and "anything produced by a furry featuring animals is furry. If a work is produced featuring animals but the creator(s) is/are NOT furries, it is NOT considered "Furry."[9] Some of the responses are as follows.

Any animalistic yet anthropomorphic character. Animalistic meaning it needs to be animal (plushes, robots, yes even pool toys). Anthropomorphic means most commonly having human traits like bipedal stance, but it also includes human intelligence/speech.

[snipped]

I can see some debate on stuff like TLK and FNAF. They're not inherently furry. They're not intentionally made as the same anthropomorphic characters we make in the fandom. FNAF are animatronics, empty souls basically (ironic) and were used for a simple jump scare game. TLK is a Disney movie, animals are more admirable among children, and you can't really have a cartoon where the animals don't talk, or aren't relatable to by the audience.

Furries in the fandom, we make those specifically as animal characters with human personality. Fnaf got adopted to the fandom, and now the fans make them furries, giving them personality and life basically. TLK also, it was adapted outside of the movie into the fandom.Sareii
I don't think it really matters. I'm just hanging out here 'cos I like funny animals and weird aliens.ArgentStonecutter
I tend not to get into definition wars myself, but to see people posting their balls off over at Fur Affinity Forums trying to disassociate The Lion King or FNAF from being "Furry" because it wasn't "Made by Furries" just kinda jerks me the wrong way...Nikolinni, the OP
2 is the old, all furry is anthro but not all anthro is furry if I recall correctly.Corperk

What is a Furry Survey

In February 2020, the What is a Furry? Survey asked internet users how they defined words like "furry" and "fursona." The demographics between furries and non-furries was a nearly even split, with 50.6% identifying as furries and 49.4% as non-furries. It was advertised in several online locations, including: Toyhouse, furry groups on DeviantART, the furry Reddit, Tumblr, and Furrypile. There were 11 required multiple choice questions and one optional written response. It gathered 162 responses, including from from the surveyor herself. The results may be viewed here. Among the 162 respondents there was little disagreement on whether "furry" is a matter of self-identification or not, as 80.9% saw it as a self identifier, being the overwhelming majority.

68.5% believed an animal character who "neither walks nor talks" can be a fursona, while 31.5% disagreed (it is assumed this is about certain species of feral characters, which do not usually walk in a bipedal fashion). 19.8% believed having a fursona automatically makes one a furry regardless of how they identify. 80.9% believed furry is a self identifier and 19.1% did not. A more wordy question presented a scenario in which an artist who only draws The Lion King characters says they are a furry, though they are restricted to one media-based source. The majority, 90.7%, believed that yes, this person would qualify as a furry. 9.3%, said they wouldn't.

Fandom

The fandom's main forms of expression are visual arts and fursuiting, and because it cannot be agreed upon whether or not characters/fan characters based on media count as furries, fanfiction involving bipedal/talking animals may or may not be included in the fandom. Furry conventions are popular and furries have their own economy, which has been described as socialist[10] and punk[11] by Dogpatch Press, a popular furry news outlet. These values and differences have led some to question whether furry is even a "fandom" at all.

Discussion on if Furry is a "Fandom"

This article or section needs expansion.

Furry fandom, also known as furrydom, furridom, fur fandom or furdom, refers to the fandom for the furry genre of literature, art and entertainment. Furry fandom is also used to refer to the community of artists, writers, role players and general fans of the furry art forms who gather on the net and at conventions.Wikifur[12]

Not every furry sees "furry" as a fandom, but rather a community of like-minded people. However, it is common for the majority to call it the "furry fandom," as evident in any simple search online regarding furries. In the "What is a Furry Survey," 84% of the 162 respondents saw furry as a fandom, even though the survey was also half non-furry. Reputable furry sources, such as the website for Anthrocon, also refer to furry as a fandom.[13] Still, there are those who disagree or even see it as a gray area.

Per a Twitter discussion:

I think one of the reasons I find the furry fandom so appealing and cool is that it facilitates an identity around creation instead of consumption. It feels more like a community than a result of a good marketing campaign.Orcanist, the OP
This is kind of why I don't like when people consider it a fandom. Because it's not. Yeah there are mainstream media things that we enjoy but the furry community is not built around any intellectual property. It's not the same thing as the Star Trek fandom or broniesBigDragonien
Been saying this for years. My husband and I always compare furry cons to Renn Faires rather than comic book conventions.ifritz111
I’ve been saying this for years! The furry fandom is essentially the only fandom which entirely creates its own thing to represent itself around rather than being bound to existing media (comics, Star Trek, game of thrones whatever)shuyomondai

One of the respondents to the What is a Furry survey said:

I don't think its a fandom because there is no content to be a fan of aside from the most basic thing- animals. And that makes no sense, since you don't call people who are fans of cars the "car fandom".What is a Furry? Survey

In the end what may make furry a fandom or not is dependent upon the community itself and how they define themselves in relation to other types of fandom. Though there are furries and non-furries who see furry as not a fandom, most do indeed label it a fandom. Individual furries may not necessarily consider themself a part of a fandom by participating in the community despite this.

Demographics

A study in 2015 done by [adjective][species] took a look at furry demographics among convention goers. Before getting into the data the staff gave a disclaimer: "The Furry Survey is voluntary, which means that our dataset is self-selecting. It's not possible to perform a census of the whole of furry, so we only know about furries who fill in the survey." However, they believe their dataset is large enough to be consistent and have noted it matches other studies, such as the International Anthropomorphic Research Project.

Between 2009 and 2013 [adjective][species] found the average age of furries to be 23. Their study also showed men to be the majority of the community and women to be a minority. They expanded upon this to find that women furries are also more likely to be furry artists. It is also sometimes said that furries are usually gay, but the studies are mixed on this. Furries are "evenly spread across the Kinsey spectrum, from heterosexuality to homosexuality," and Vox reports that less than 30% of furries are "exclusively heterosexual."[14] [Adjective][species] also noted that "about one in six furries self-identify as a zoophile." [15]

A Pittsburgh-based research center reports that up to 15% of furries are autistic.[16]

The International Anthropomorphic Research Project's website contains several studies on the demographics of furries, even down to income and employment. Most of their studies are done at Anthrocon and are compiled from multiple studies over multiple years. They discovered that furries annual income does not differ much from the general American population,[17] most furries are full-time employees and/or taking full-time education courses,[18], and the majority are white[19] and one third of them are atheist or agnostic.[20]

Furries are also said to frequently work in IT; a common running joke among artists is that commissions by rich furries pay their mortgages or rent- the joke usually involves said furries in IT, or furries who are doctors or pilots. Overall, furries seem to have some demographic similarities to bronies.

History

One can cite classical mythology, traditional folk-tales, fable, lycanthropy, children’s lit, hunting magic, totemism, and animal stories. We have always lived with animals, and thought about them...

But funny animals are specialized critters... We don’t communicate with animal spirits, wonder how we will be reincarnated next on the wheel of life... The point is, we are NOT ancient Greeks, Amerinds, feudal peasants, Hindus, or Druids. We do NOT think of animals as these people did...

All the same, before furry fandom there were furries – artists and fans such as myself who drifted into either science fiction or comics fandom...[21]

While humans have been drawing and dressing up as animals for millennia, the modern furry fandom is said to have begun in the 1970s or so, emerging with influence from the Science Fiction Fandom, Western comics fandom, as well as animation by Disney, Osamu Tezuka, Chuck Jones, Don Bluth, and others.

One influential comic strip is Fritz the Cat[22] which began in 1965 and encouraged the creation of a zine called Vootie, which is posited as the beginning of furry fandom in "Everyone's A Furry 2k16" by Colin Spacetwinks.

Vootie.png
Furry, as we currently understand and picture it, doesn't really exist until 1976, with the creation of a zine called Vootie, by Reed Waller and Ken Fletcher. It called itself the "Fanzine of the Funny Animal Liberation Front" - and that's a little marker of history itself. The term 'furry' to characterize the community and its art output hadn't quite come into usage yet. It's all "funny animal", taking off from the name of the genre itself, featuring characters like Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, et all. You know 'em.

Here's the cover of Vootie issue 0, give you a feel for where things were at the very start - more or less - of this whole group.

Didn't expect Spock as a talking ape, did ya?

Here's a fun - and important - piece of furry history for you. Artist Taral Wayne says he sent a letter to the editor, Reed Waller, asking "why isn't there more sex in funny animals?".

Waller's response was to publish the very start of Omaha The Cat Dancer in issue #8 of Vootie.

Never heard of Omaha, you say?[23]
Omaha The Cat Dancer 1.jpg

Omaha the Cat Dancer is a soap opera comic which was condemned by law enforcement in the United States, Canada and New Zealand, based on claims of depicting bestiality.[24] This led to the creation of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

The term "furry" began to be used in the 1980s and, according to one account, was coined by a non-furry who called himself Doctor Pepper, though there is not enough documentation to be certain of the term's origins. Furry conventions had their start as "Furry Parties" inside singular rooms of larger science fiction cons. Furries were often treated badly at these cons, accused of being gay and/or zoophilic. One post from Baycon reads:

Skunk F KERS rehab03.jpg
SKUNK F**CKERS REHABILITATION
  • ARE YOU SEXUALLY AROUSED BY PICTURES OF ANIMALS WITH HUMAN GENITALIA?
  • DO YOU HAVE DIFFICULTY RELATING TO HUMANS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX?
  • DOES YOUR HAMSTER RUN WHEN HE SEES YOU COMING?

SKUNK F**CKERS REHAB CAN HELP YOU! WE OFFER ASSISTANCE IN THE FOLLOWING:

  • REALITY TRAINING
  • HAIRBALL REMOVAL
  • GENDER RELATION COUNSELING
  • SPAY AND NEUTER CLINIC
  • BASIC ANIMAL ANATOMY
  • SPECIES ABUSE RECOVERY PROGRAM

WE CAN GIVE YOU A LIFE!!!

© 1989 SKUNKF**CKERS REHAB INC., a NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION

The ill treatment from other fans is what led to furries creating their own cons. The first furry con, Confurence Zero, had sixty-something attendees, two of whom dressed up as animals.[25]

A few months after Confurence 0 the Baycon staff did make a statement that Furries were in fact welcome, from the 1989 Baycon progress report: "I have to admit that I haven't the slightest idea where this one came from. There were some tasteless fliers put out by individuals who don't like Furry Fandom. It was annoying, but not nearly enough of a disturbance to make us even consider blackballing an entire fringe fan group." [26]

Furry artwork continued being distributed in zines and comics until the 1990s, when the Internet revolutionized the fandom with FurryMUCK, Furcadia and other sites dedicated to roleplaying and artwork.

In "How Furries Became a Fandom", writer Clare McBride traces major influences on the fandom from Looney Tunes to Disney's Robin Hood, from Animalympics to the Renaissance Age of Animation in the 1980s, up to the release of Zootopia. She says:

Assuming that the Internet bred furry fandom is an easy assumption to make. It’s certainly the assumption I made, despite running with a crowd of scene kids and furries in Bush-era suburban Georgia. But furries—fans of anthropomorphic animals—go back both further and not as far as you might think.

In mainstream culture, furry fandom is largely known by a reputation best codified by the 2003 CSI episode “Fur and Loathing,” which depicted all furries as sex-crazed fetishists utterly heedless of prosaic concerns like dry cleaning bills. Even in geek culture at large, furries remain a niche among niches—and often a convenient punching bag for geeks of all other stripes to say, “Well, at least I’m not like those weirdos.”

Which is why I find furry fandom so interesting as someone outside of it. Fandoms that develop in isolation or otherwise non-traditional ways fascinate me, and furry fandom operates on a wavelength that owes more to old-school science fiction fandom than contemporary media fandom. It’s a creator-centric fandom that places more value on generating original material than fanworks, and it can extend into a lifestyle in a way that media fandom can’t.

While anthropomorphic animals have existed in folklore for nearly all of human history, furry illustrator Taral Wayne posits that furries actively resist association with their ancient counterparts. In the program book for 1992’s ConFurence 4, they explain: “Furries draw their imagery from a common background of Saturday morning cartoons and comic books, and have imbued these images with meanings that could only arise from growing up in the boomer years.” While every furry, of course, is different, one only has to look at the cheerful cartoon aesthetic of most fursuits to realize that furries are more Bugs Bunny than Bast.

...

The dawn of the millennium saw a steady increase in numbers in furry fandom, as those who discovered they were furries during the Renaissance Age of Animation found their kind online. These numbers led to the rise of both regional conventions such as Furry Weekend Atlanta and international conventions such as the UK’s RBW and Australia’s MiDFur. The rise of DeviantArt, SheezyArt and FurAffinity also provided ways for furry artists and writers to connect with each other and share their work in a space expressly designed for them. (FurAffinity is to furry fandom as Archive of Our Own is to media fandom.)How Furries Became a Fandom [27]

Controversy

Needs Citation: This article needs more citations. See Fanlore:Citation for more information on why.

Controversy in the community is often related to erotic works. Some believe that furries are sexualizing animals, thus consider furries as those practicing zoophilia/bestiality. Responses to this view within furry fandom vary. The Furry Survey covers issues such as human vs. animal identification and zoophilia. [Adjective][species] noted from their survey of furries at conventions that "about one in six furries self-identify as a zoophile." [15]

Many non-furries are squicked by the furry identification and alleged sexualization of animals. This is explicitly demonstrated by putting them on the bottom of a graphic from 2002: The Geek Hierarchy. Furries are often mocked with terms like "furfags," "skunkfuckers," and other derogatory language. Furry art sites constantly suffer DDOS attacks (needs citation). In 2014, a furry convention was attacked with chlorine by an unknown person; 19 furries were hospitalized and people could have died.

Furries have long attempted to understand why they are hated and how best to respond to it. Some believe the fandom should be made more family-friendly to appeal to the mainstream, while others argue that furries are hated because many are autistic and/or LGBTQ (needs citation). In the late 2010s, the phrase "Keep Furry Weird" became common, albeit controversial, in response to the Furry Converse Advertisement sponsoring a Brazilian convention.

Other controversies include poodling and the creation of babyfur and fetish art. There is also discussion on similarities, differences and rivalries with bronies, anime fans, and other fandoms.

Debate over individuals or events is more likely to be dubbed "drama" than discourse.

Example Works

Drawn

Fursuits

Fanfiction and Literature

Note: Not all furries consider media-based works to be "furry" and may not count fanfiction as furry art.

Video

Zines

Zine Covers

See also Wiki Fur's list of fanzines.

Communities

Meta/Further Reading

Other Links

References

  1. Furnation (broken link) Note: It is difficult to determine from the archived version of this site whether it did indeed contain the quote as referenced, but an alternate source can be found here.
  2. [1]Adjective Species: Species Popularity Explorer
  3. Furcience fursonas. (Accessed 7/5/2020)
  4. What is a Furry?, Merriam-Webster. Circa 2015 (Accessed 7/4/2020)
  5. Editor's Note: From the editor's disagreement on this page. See talk page. (Patchlamb, 7/4/2020)
  6. Furry History, Wikipedia. (Accessed 7/4/2020)
  7. Furry Fandom. Circa Sept 21, 2019 (Accessed 7/4/2020)
  8. What Makes a Furry a Furry?, Quora. July 7, 2019 (Accessed 7/4/2020)
  9. Definition of What's Considered "Furry", Reddit, r/Furry. May 19, 2015 (Accessed 7/4/2020)
  10. "Furry Socialism: You’re Soaking in It!" by Tempe O’Kun and Dralen Dragonfox, July 17, 2018
  11. "How furries resist a commercialized fandom", Dogpatch Press, May 22, 2019
  12. Furry Fandom, Wikifur. (Accessed 7/5/2020)
  13. What is a Furry, Anthrocon. (Accessed 7/5/2020)
  14. 9 questions about furries you were too embarrassed to ask by Dylan Matthews
  15. 15.0 15.1 [adjective] [species] furry demographics, August 24, 2015
  16. For Some With Autism, Furry Culture Offers Comfort And Acceptance by Sarah Boden
  17. Furscience Income. (Accessed 7/5/2020)
  18. Furscience Employment. (Accessed 7/5/2020)
  19. Furscience Ethnicity, (Accessed 7/5/2020)
  20. Furscience Religion. (Accessed 7/5/2020)
  21. Furry 101
  22. [2],Furries (Down the Rabbit Hole) by Fredrik Knudsen
  23. Everyone's A Furry 2k16Everyone's a Furry by Colin Spacetwinks
  24. [3]Omaha the Cat Dancer: Cultural Impact on Wikipedia
  25. Furries (Down the Rabbit Hole), YouTube
  26. Baycon progress report 1989
  27. How Furries Became a Fandom by Clare McBride, July 19 2017