When I've come back in from a big long evening dog walk, taken off my shoes, and gotten some refreshing water to drink, my favorite thing to do with the rest of my night is to curl up in my jammies, get on my phone, and check Twitter to see what some random furry I've never heard of thinks I should be allowed to like in furry art.
Oh wait no. I hate that.
How did this become a thing?
It's very easy to find furry art that the average person off the street would look at and go, "Nice! That art of that wolf man is very cool! He's like a cool combat soldier with a cool gun making an angry face, the fact that he's a wolf too adds to the piece because wolves are cool!"
It's also very easy to find furry art that the average person off the street would look at and go, "Yucky! Why did you show me this! Donald Duck should not be doing that!"
Or maybe even, "Oh. I don't know why you showed me this art of Donald Duck doing that, but this has awakened some feelings in me. Where can I find more?"
Furry can be drawn in a way that is completely non-sexual, and it can be drawn in a way that is suggestive, and it can be drawn in a way that is sexual but vanilla, and it can be drawn in a way that caters to every kink under the sun. After all, if you were only to look at the art and know nothing about the comments surrounding it, "furry" would just seem to be a fantasy race of characters, like elves or androids. They aren't automatically any more sexual or automatically any less sexual than art of humans is.
But, for whatever the reasons may be, we haven't really ended up with "the furry fetishist sexy forum" over here, and "the anthro characters who are wearing pants guild" over there. We have "the furry fandom." There are more adult spaces and more safe-for-work spaces, but, "the furry fandom" is all taken as one group. More often than not, safe-for-work and not-safe-for-work and VERY-not-safe-for-work are existing all mixed together on the same platforms.
I think this is more or less where the tug-of-war comes in, between letting people like whatever kinks they want in furry art, vs telling people to clean up their act because kinks are bad for furry. People who like the adult stuff tell the nonsexual furries to just stop looking if it bothers them so much, and mostly continue to do their kink things. But people who just like the clean stuff are maybe embarrassed by the idea described earlier, of someone off the street seeing kinky furry art, and then assuming all furries are like that, so it's important to them that the fandom as a whole have a clean image.
And you know what I say?
Fuck a clean image.
Furry should be Punk. Fucking. Rock.
You can wear a boring polo shirt and work in a boring office while having Cannibal Corpse playing in your earbuds, and not one person in their right mind will think that this means you want to eat dead bodies--if someone does think something that idiotic, that's on them. To every reasonable person, your interest in metal is, at most, quirky. And your cube neighbor should be allowed to have drawings of Disney's Robin Hood tacked up on their cube wall, and no reasonable person will make a stink of it, even if they've heard of these "furries" before. Anyone who sees those foxes and thinks, "Wow, Jeff must be really into inflation," is a) making quite a leap, and b) needs to mind their own damn business if the images in the office itself aren't risque. The fact that sexy drawings of elves and androids exist in multitudes on the internet doesn't mean that someone will be seen as a kinky weirdo for having a fantasy or sci-fi themed phone background. The same should be true of furry.
Are there "problematic" things that are said in metal lyrics? Yes, if you are thick enough to think that hearing something in a song lyric means that you're probably going to go out and do it in real life now. I would argue there is equally problematic violence in a lot of action movies. But we got past the satanic panic in metal quite a long time ago, and last I checked, action movies are still pretty popular. Are there "problematic" kinks in furry art? Yes, if you are thick enough to think that porn is the same as sex in real life. But it takes a very, very, *very* basic understanding of reality to know that liking a drawing doesn't equal endorsement of the act shown in the drawing in real life. The same way it's not fair to assume someone playing Grand Theft Auto is also a mass shooter on the side in real life, it's pretty ridiculous to assume that someone into a "problematic" kink in furry art is hurting anyone with that kink when they leave their computer. Anyone who is has other serious mental health issues going on, and was probably going to get triggered by something else anyways, if not Grand Theft Auto then the latest Captain America, if not cub porn then the latest teen sitcom.
I don't mean to make this 100% about sex and kink by the way, that is just the big thing people have been talking about lately. You can also become "problematic and making furries look bad zomg stop" by wearing a tail around on the back of your pants while going about your day, by bringing linguistic furryisms into non-furry spaces, by... look, basically by being a furry, you can be problematic and mak furries look bad, by *some* standards. Even very sheltered furries usually aren't *that* bad, but like, there are some who kind of seem to want to be a furry but also not have furries exist anywhere because furries are silly and weird and, more to the point, embarrassing? Make them feel uncomfortable? But then like, don't be a furry? No one is making you? Problem solved?
There is, and I cannot stress this enough, *no downside* to weird being part of furry, as long as no one is actively being a piece of shit about it, in which case *that* is what should be addressed. And there is an upside to being weird: Being weird sometimes is good. Being weird sometimes is *fun.* Being weird sometimes is healthy.
Being weird is good for your own mental health. It helps you explore what you like, what isn't your cup of tea, what other people might see in things. And if your interests are indeed "quirky," like all furries kind of are by default, then be weird and like what you like! Love your weird self! I used to go about my life so concerned that everything I do be seen as normal, not standing out, not being interesting. That shit was not fun, and it really drains you keeping up that facade 24/7. I've been so much happier and felt so much more positively about life and the world around me since opening up. Once upon a time, I would have wanted to die if my classmates found out I had looked at a headshot of a blushing furry. It would have actually been the end of the world. It is so freeing, such a less anxious life, to know that today if I texted any furry picture in the whole world to my non-furry friend by mistake, the only thing that would happen is he would be confused why I sent it and then later we would talk about it and laugh. It's so fun to add nyan and owo to your out-loud vocabulary. It's silly in a nice way to have a tie-dye tail wagging behind you when you walk.
Being weird is good for making your fellow weirdos feel comfortable. I've had experiences where I go into a new working environment, and it's such a relief every time I get a new workplace lore drop like "Dwain is *crazy* into anime" and "Lucas is poly but not like TV-poly, it's *very* messy." At that point, coming in and saying I'm bi is the smallest of small potatoes. Someone else coming in who is trans doesn't stand out like they might if they were in a workplace of "normals." It's comfy to be around strangeness.
Being weird is good for art. It's *weird* to decide space aliens should tranform into cars to save the planet Earth, but you would probably be hard-pressed to find a friend who has never heard of Transformers. It's *weird* to tell a story about someone dressing up in a red spider suit and doing gymastics to fight crime, yet we've all heard the phrase, "With great power comes great responsibility." It's *weird* that about 160 million dollars was spent on a movie where guys huff spray paint, shout "Witness me!", and then jump from one speeding car to another, but a lot of people think Mad Max: Fury Road is an amazing action film. I can't IMAGINE how boring a movie written by a committee of these puritanical normal-enforcer furries would be. Give me a movie written by the crew of Zooier Than Thou instead please, THAT sounds like it would be a trip.
Keep furries weird! Nyan!
Article written by Alissa Dogchurch (July 2023)
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