What is a Furry?
The word “furry” can refer to an anthropomorphic animal, a zoomorphic human, or an amalgamation of human and animal features. Furries are individuals who identify with an animal or animated character and will take on the identity of such animal or character in a fantasy role-play. In my clinical practice, my furries often report feeling a spiritual connection with the animal or character they adopt which is called their “fursona.” Costuming is a huge part of this community and rarely will you see someone out of their fursona costume unless it is required for their day-to-day activities. I have had one furry client who specifically chose her profession, one that allows her to work from home, so that she could wear her tail and ears everyday.
The name of this community, the Furry Fandom, began developing the late 1980s and it was first becoming organized at science fiction and comic conventions but quickly grew into a large and diverse community of animal related fantasy fans. It is a subculture primarily comprised of gamers, comic book geeks, anime, and artists. Members of the furry fandom, known as furry fans, or furs, particularly enjoy media that includes fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics.
Some examples of anthropomorphic attributes are: exhibiting human intelligence and facial expressions, the ability to speak, walking on two legs, and wearing clothing. A few well-known examples are Bugs Bunny, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and Roger Rabbit. These characters are usually bipedal, often dress in human clothing, and resemble their real-life counterparts in more or less detail. Furry fans have referred to any anthropomorphic animal character as a furry. Other terms for this types of characters are the “funny animal” and “talking animal.”
The Furry Community
The furry community often overlaps with the BDSM community because there are several power exchange dynamics that are seen, but it is referred to as a “Primal dynamic” in these cases. Furries are very enveloped with their animalistic identity, or “fursona”, and will often spend countless time and money participating in costume development and will even take on their identity as a nickname in their non-Kinky lives. Once a fursona has been adopted, it is rare for the furry to change their identity. Osaki (2008) developed a survey of approximately 5000 self-identified furries and was unable to identify any significant connection or etiology for furry identity or a particular age when participants had adopted their furry ways. Common interests for furries are art, science fiction, anime, and animal rights.
Furries are social creatures and tend to be very active in the furry community, which is filled with artists, and art plays a very large part in their identity. Their conferences often include at least one or two tracks for costume creation. They also will primarily socialize only within their furry community. Osaki (2008) reports that the community adopted the Furry Fandom identity around 1992. The Handler/pony and Handler/pup dynamics are common role-play fantasies in the Leather community and likewise, the critter/owner roles are typical Age Play fantasies for furries. Those who participate in Furry Fandom, operate on the principle of SLICKED see Figure 2.5 below.
|Simplicity||Simple ideal life|
|Links||The link between you and your fursona|
|Individuality||Be yourself and non conforming|
|Complexity||Fandom is easy, people are complex|
|Key||Community is the Key|
|Effort||Anything worth having takes effort|
|Duality||Your human side and fursona are one|
Osaki, A. (2008). State of the fandom 2008. Retrieved from http://www.furcenter.org/pubs/SF_2008.pdf