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Opinion: The New Furry, much like the Old Furry

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Let's be clear about one thing from the start: furry is still a fandom. That should be a fairly uncontroversial statement, but a recent article by JM on [adjective][species] tried to put forward the case that furry can no longer be described as a fandom. I think there are a number of major errors in that essay that need to be corrected.

Fandom or not?

JM's argument against furry's status as a fandom rests on the lack of a furry canon.

Fandoms revolve around their canon. The canon provides a permanent reference point for all fandom-related activities. We furries have no such thing, and so furry is defined by whatever we, collectively, decide.

This paragraph is only partially true. He's wrong about what constitutes a fandom; there is more to it than just canon. Turning to the infallible resource of Wikipedia (that was irony, but it is pretty reliable), we learn this about fandoms:

Fandom (consisting of fan [fanatic] plus the suffix -dom, as in kingdom, freedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices (a fandom); this is what differentiates "fannish" (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.

Fandoms revolve around a common interest, not a canon. At times the common interest will also serve as the canon, in such things as the Doctor Who fandom or the Pokémon fandom, but at other times the common interest will be more vague, such as the anime fandom, the sci-fi fandom and the furry fandom. In those cases the fans are fans of a concept that can encompass many different fandoms due to a common element.

Furry certainly has what we can term a canon. Fred Patten has compiled a long, but incomplete, list of works that influenced and led to the formation of the furry fandom between 1966-1996. JM knows about this list, of course, but claims that we no longer use these as a reference for the fandom and are not all fans of any one thing. I expect that's the same for other fandoms too. Not all sci-fi fans like Star Wars, and not all anime fans enjoy Dragon Ball Z.

Furthermore, it was never the case that the furry fandom was about a specific work. Rowrbrazzle, the "first clear [sign] of the independent furry fandom," was founded in 1983 and was open to "anyone who can demonstrate a creative interest in funny animals." From the beginning the fandom was about a concept, not any specific work.

Whether we use the old references or not is immaterial. We are certainly still referencing mainstream works. Some of the current major influences on the furry fandom include the Pokémon franchise, Balto, My Little Pony and Disney films. These are also the channels that bring most people to the fandom. We are still consuming all works which are relevant to the furry fandom. Flayrah regularly posts reviews of films, comics and games that are of interest and, when Puss in Boots was released, I went to see it with a group of local furs.

Creators and fans

What JM could have done was to have started a far more interesting discussion about the distinction between fans and creators, such as were raised in Patch Packrat's article on "pseudo-furry." I think this comment from Sonious captions the issue well:

Once again, the hardship we're dealing with is the blowback from the ambiguity of the term furry. You're calling this "Pseudo-furry" because it wasn't made by a furry fan... but according to furry fans what makes something furry is that it contains anthropomorphization of animals, in which case the videos you showed here cannot be called pseudo, they actually are.

Judging by the way JM has used fandom and canon, he seems to be implying that furry cannot be a fan of its own creations. But even as we grow on our own work, rather than "outside" sources we might want to ask why we can't be fans of our own creations. Would Disney's Robin Hood, one of the fandom influences, have been more furry if the writers or director were furry? And if they were would that exclude us from being part of the Robin Hood fandom? Perhaps a better way of framing the question would be to ask whether Peter Jackson is part of The Lord of the Rings fandom or a creator of it? And does that situation differ to that of Bitter Lake?

Is your Furry the same as my Furry?

A further problem with JM's essay was his departure from any standard definition of furry. For him, the entire furry fandom is built around identity.

The biggest common element among furries is the use of an animal-person avatar, our fursona. [...] I think that this identity-play is at the heart of furry.

Small furry groups grow and fracture all the time, but the wider community holds together because of a core, shared idea: we all identify as furries.

The structure of furry is driven by our shared interest in exploring identity as an animal-person.

At worst this becomes tautological, with the furry fandom consisting of people that are furries because they identify as furries. Even in a more charitable reading, it misses what actually drove people to the furry fandom: liking anthropomorphic characters.

Compare JM's definition of furry with my own. A furry is someone who has a preference for characters who possess a combination of animal and human characteristics in such a way that the new character is significantly different from the character's real or canon form. JM's idea of furry excludes those that do not have a fursona and misses the interest that brought people to the fandom in the first place.

This aspect of identity is just a continuation of his earlier essay on the so-called "second wave of furry" where he tries to make a distinction between "fans" and "lifestylers." If you're going to read that essay, I'd also highly recommended at least glancing at the conversation in the comments section between JM and Perri Rhoades. I didn't find this essay convincing when I first read it, and I still don't, especially when it comes with statements such as:

For the fans, furry was something you enjoy. For the lifestylers, furry was something you are.

In my definition enjoying furry and being a furry are the same thing. The Wikipedia definition of fandoms would distinguish the two from how much time and energy is spent on the furry fandom. It's unclear how JM sees furry as something that you are in a deeper sense. Is it that people who enjoy the art are fans only, and the title of furry goes to those that wear fursuits to work? Fursonas are a meaningless way to distinguish fans from lifestylers. As I pointed out back then, avatars are an aspect of Internet culture in general.

Furthermore, any distinction between fans and lifestylers on such grounds will become blurred due to the current structure of the fandom, even without a difference in the people. Furry sites are built to accommodate fursonas, and it's become an expected part of being a fur. If someone were to join the fandom now there would be a lot of implicit pressure to create a fursona.

There is identity-play at work in the fandom but the extent to which that is meaningful is up for debate. For most furs, their fursona is almost identical to them. It's hard to see that as a relevant change then. Fursonas allow us to express what we aspire to be and provide a protective screen from the world but aren't a totally new identity.

Conclusion

Yes, the structure of furry will change over time, but it has not changed as much as JM has implied. We are still a fandom that is based on the appreciation of anthropomorphic characters.

Comments

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It should be noted that JM does not like cartoons; in fact he equates watching cartoons to eating poop in this essay.

"There is a scene in Life Of Pi (the novel, I haven’t seen the film) where our castaway, in desperate hunger, tries to eat his own faeces. His plight is such that he doesn’t register the taste, he simply learns that it contains no sustenance. I feel much the same way about children’s TV, from Barney the Dinosaur through to Family Guy."

Now the guy does certainly like ... something vaguely involving anthropomorphic animals, but, you know, if you can't find a better metaphor for watching cartoons on a furry site than a coprophagia scene from a novel, well, shit.

(Also,years of ranting about JM over here and he just now gets angry? Also, 30 some stories! JM sucks at research ...)

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Family Guy is "children's TV" now? Holy crap!

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Also, this:

People find out that I’m a horse and they don’t think I’m an impressive equine: they ask about my cutie mark.

...yeah, somehow I doubt that's true.

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Hi crossie, I appreciate the criticism and thanks for taking my comments in good humour, which is the spirit they were intended.

One thing though: I wrote "...since this gem [the Stichter article], he’s submitted some 30 articles". As I write this, the actual number is 29. (http://www.flayrah.com/user/1587/stories)

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Well, since is kind of a big word ... so, I guess we're both technically wrong at 29, but tie gos o the estimator rather than the misreader, I think that's the rule.

But, humorous or not, I'm not really happy with that Pi metaphor (I just do jokes constantly, raher angry or not). Since I do jokes, however, I know when they're saying something. You may have heard of this guy Freud; he can usually be safely ignored, so I hesitate to bring him up (dear God, in a furry context to boot), but he believed that jokes reveal our true feelings better than we know.

What I'm saying is you seem like a guy who equates nice with good, so you're really innocent in how hurtful that joke was; it's one thing to say I don't like cartoons. I'm down with that ( abit weird for a furry, but whatever); hell, the whole point of the article was about you setting aside your bias to at least try it. Good on that, and all, but maybe next time don't add add a condemnation of a medium while you're at it, even as a joke, because, hey, thanks to that Freud guy, wrong or right, we're all thinking you mean it.

It may be silly to you, but then "silly" isn't a negative modifier, now is it? So yes, I linked first, and that was deliberate provocation, but I was already angry. See, you inadvertently started it when you called something I cared about a piece of shit. You've had other opinions I don't agree with in the past, but that was actively insulting.

Please note that this comment is posted from a cell phone, and typos are a bitch to correct; you haven't driven me to the point of inability to type straight, if that worries you, nor am I an ignoramus who can't even type a comment legibly, if that's what you're hoping.

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Hi crossie. I'm sorry that I insulted you with my Pi metaphor. I didn't intend to imply that children's cartoons are like a piece of shit - your response shows that my metaphor failed. I hope you can give me the benefit of the doubt, and chalk it up to bad writing rather than a deliberate attack on something you love.

And I don't think you're an ignoramus or anything like that. As I said in my King Crow article, I think that you're intelligent, thoughtful, and worthwhile. Your contributions to Flayrah are a great service to the furry community, and it's something that I respect and appreciate on a personal level.

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Ignoramus is a joke; of course I'm not an ignoramus.

Eh, I think I'm over it. Until I get mad about something else and bring it up in a Douglas Adams' "... and another thing" sort of way. Which is probably good. Seriously, if all I called you was pretentious, well, we both got off lucky. I have and probably will again verbally abuse other commenters when angry (we're not supposed to admit the Internet people made us angry, but my favorite pony is Applejack, and she would be sad if I wasn't honest, so tell the truth and shame the devil).

Seriously, this is disappointing. Pretty much years of disagreeing with your opinions, wanting to tell you off about other opinions that wouldn't really be topical here, timely now or for that matter create a discourse liable to change anyone's opinions on the subjects (not that if they were on topic a discourse would matter)(I'm talking about certain columns about the topics of cub and bestiality, basically)(three parenthetical phrases in a row is sloppy writing)(four makes it a joke, however). And now you're here and I'm all like, yeah, whatever. Okay.

Respect is fine, respect is good, and, yeah, we've got that both ways.

Of course, I'm not pretentious at all. I don't even know how to spell it. No, seriously, now that I'm off my cell phone, thank God for the little red squiggly lines. But, yeah, I've pointed out I'm pretentious myself enough in comments that it's more than a little hypocritical.

And not that it's a completely bad thing; sometimes, it's just the difference between presenting an opinion and not presenting an opinion. Which is also a bit like anger; you are nice to a fault, but maybe you should snap a bit more every once in a while. The King Crow piece and Rakuen's piece coming up at the same time was perhaps an unfortunate coincidence, but we all got things off our chest, I suppose.

Also, I never liked the art piece as a piece, anyway, so "ridiculous" is completely fair. Like I said on your site, it was pretty much a "commission" from my brother, so at least he liked it.

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If you were talking about my article count you'd be closer to accurate, but cross's is actually 144 right now:

http://www.flayrah.com/contributors

So some 30, multiplied by about 5.

By the way, that means Crossaffliction is officially GROSS until he posts another one.

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I think you're missing the "since" part. JM did not say that crossaffliction has written 30 articles, total. He's said he wrote 30 articles since the article about Stichter; and that of those, more than half were about My Little Pony.

(There's also a distinction to be drawn about "article" and "story"; a newsbyte archive counts as a "story" for Flayrah's purposes, but arguably not an "article". In this case, though, they have been equated.)

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Rakuen, this is a terrific article, and it's really nifty to see this discussed as a wider conversation.

I wanted to chime in with one clarification: I don't think that having a fursona, or engaging in identity play is required to be a furry, and I don't think that you're less of a furry is you don't have/do such things. That conversation with Perri you referenced demonstrates, hopefully, that I consider him to as much a part of furry as you or I. As I said in the article:

Furry is still close to its fandom roots, and reference points like The Lion King or My Little Pony are important for many furs. It’s even evident in the most common term used to describe our community: ‘furry fandom’. I want to make this clear because our readership includes plenty of self-described ‘furry fans’, and I don’t want to imply that they are somehow excluded from our collective furry excellent adventure.

I write this mostly because I'd hate to give the impression that I think a legend like Fred is somehow "not a furry". He, obviously, is.

Anyway, thanks again. It's pretty cool to exist in a part of the internet where criticism is thoughtful and measured.

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I'm glad you can still appreciate it. I don't find that paragraph as comforting as you intend it to be though. Even as you say they are included you are making a clear distinction between them. I don't think there is such a meaningful difference. So instead of being inclusive, this paragraph comes off as pitying and saying, "We aren't kicking you out, you can stay if you want." And you're still, by terms like "fandom roots" implying that furry is not a fandom any more.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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I got something like this back in the 1990s when someone at a Furry convention accused me of not really being a Furry fan because I didn't wear a Fursuit. I don't have a Fursona, either.

Fred Patten

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I've had the same issue once. I use a normal pokemon as my fursona and got told that because it's got a feral shape that I'm not a real furry.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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“Judging from the way JM has used fandom and canon, he seems to be implying that furry cannot be a fan of its own creations. But even as we grow on our own work, rather than "outside" sources we might want to ask why we can't be fans of our own creations.”

An interesting question is, at what point did Furry fandom start creating its own literature? Mainstream novels like Olaf Stapledon’s “Sirius” (1944), George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” (1945), and Richard Adams’ “Watership Down” (1972) were largely responsible for the creation of Furry fandom, and they continue to be influential today; but there are enough short fiction and novels published within the fandom now by Furry specialty publishers like FurPlanet Productions, Rabbit Valley Comics, and Sofawolf Press, and self-published by Furry authors on CreateSpace and Lulu.com, that a Furry fan could spend all his or her free time just reading Furry fiction -- being a fan of our own creations.

When did this transition begin? In the late 1990s. Arguably the first Furry fiction was short stories and serialized novels published in fanzines like “FurVersion” and “Yarf!”, and APAs like “Rowrbrazzle”, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Some notable examples are “Rat’s Reputation” by Michael Payne in “Furversion” #16, May 1989, “A Gift of Fire, A Gift of Blood” by Watts Martin in “Yarf!” ##5-8, July-November 1990, and “Fangs of K’aath” by Paul Kidd in “Rowrbrazzle” in the early 1990s. Yet the earliest that Furry literature became generally available was with the creation of the first Furry specialty publishers and their books, with catalogues published on the Internet: “A Whisper of Wings” by Paul Kidd (Vision Books, October 1999) and the collected “Fangs of K’aath” (United Publications, April 2000). Today such Furry publishers as FurPlanet and Sofawolf have novels, anthologies, and short fiction collections that have been available for almost ten years, and that are easily purchased over the Internet; while Amazon.com makes dozens of Furry books available in trade paperback and Kindle editions – “Life’s Dream” by Bernard Doove (CreateSpace, December 2007), and “Striking the Root” by Kris Schnee (CreateSpace, December 2012), to name just two.

Fred Patten

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For myself, writing in the 70's and having no awareness of any Furry venues of publishing, I always assumed I'd be collecting rejection slips from ordinary publishers, basing my pleas to be taken seriously on the success of Richard Adams and Richard Bach.

I'm firmly of the opinion that nothing published only in an APAzine counts as being available to the general public. I was writing Furry stuff all throughout the 80's and 90's, and never heard a word about Rowrbrazzle. It wasn't something that could be purchased at anybody's local comic shop. As far as I was concerned at the time, there never was and never would be specialty publishers for what I did.

But, the minute I heard about The Furry Community and that there were indeed specialty publishers, my attitude was, "Why in the world would I want to try to sell this to an ordinary publisher if there are publishers that already have an appreciation for it?"

But then there was this other thing called internet self publishing, and I decided I'd rather get in on that, as even a specialty publisher would make demands I'd find it hard to conform my work to.

Anyway, the fact that there are now specialty publishers totally changes the situation. People are not now discouraged from producing Furry novels simply because there is now a reasonable prospect of publication. So naturally we have more.

But then again, I'm sometimes given to wonder how many other would be Furry authors like myself existed in the 70's, 80's & 90's who were totally oblivious to even the possibility of a Furry scene someday existing. How many unfinished Furry projects from that time period languish in desk drawers and file cabinets, while their authors remain oblivious to the existence of Furry Fandom, if they are even still alive?

In the 70's I had this crazy theory that where there is one Furry author struggling to create something, there must logically be more. I couldn't possibly be the only one who read Bambi and Watership Down and thought, "I could do something like that."

But for the longest time I dismissed this theory - thinking, as most around me did, that my particular brand of insanity was unique to myself, and the few authors who still, ever so rarely, managed to get professionally published.

And now that my theory has been proved correct, and I know that I am far from the only one, it bothers me that those who try to make sense of the history of the interest don't have any way of taking into account how many fans like myself there were during those years who might have publish Furry works had the specialty publishers not come too late - had the fandom itself not been so loathed to reveal itself to those who needed it.

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I think jM tends to make generalizations about the fandom that often do not fit many of us.

I think Furry, like Steam-punk ( what I learned going to my first Steampunk con)are fans of an ideal or aesthetics. There is a cannon but is there a lot of headway. Furry is it involves anthropomorphic animals in art, literature and costuming; we are fans what we and other created.

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Without getting too deep into this discussion, I just want to say I think a lot of it seems to be founded on bad or unclear terminology, and maybe coming up with some consistent definitions for things like "furry" and "fandom" we could more readily agree on points derived from them.

Here's my take:

"Furry" obviously has the widest range of definitions here, but I think it could be safely restricted to two definitions instead of one, based on context:
- Furries in the context of fiction are creatures that are mostly not human, but have distinctively humanlike characteristics.
- Furries in the context of real life - furry fans - are people with an interest or fascination with furries in fiction, published or otherwise.

"Furry fandom" and "Furry community" - which I believe are interchangable terms is the community of people centered around the interests of furry fans.

Very importantly, I would NOT define "furry" or "furry fan" to mean "a member of the furry fandom." I think confusion around what is "a member of the furry fandom" is a big reason behind all of this debate to begin with.

The key ideas here is that it is possible to be a furry without being a member of this community, and it is also possible to be a member of the furry community without being a furry.

The reason people often say "a furry is anyone who identifies as a furry" (I've often said the same thing just out of the frustration of trying to define it) is because the term "furry" is not being used in either of the above two contexts. Instead they're using "furry" to mean "a member of the furry fandom," which incorrectly implies that there is no prerequisite to being a furry. Inversely, and very incorrectly, that statement implies that if you don't share a common interest with furries, you can't be a member of the furry community.

There IS a prerequisite for being a furry: You must have a significant amount of interest in furries in fiction. (No, you do not need a fursona, or a fursuit, and you do not need to contribute to the furry community in any way.) But there is NOT a prerequisite for becoming a member of the furry community, other than being capable of some sort of social interaction with others therein.

We can test this idea by looking for real life examples of furries who are not members of the furry community and vise versa.
- The former is easy for me: It's not hard to conceive that someone formerly active in the fandom has decided to focus on work or other interests, and has ceased to partake in gatherings and online discussions. He might still have a few local or online friends who are members of the community, and might pop on LJ to give old acquaintances a life update, but I think this would suffice as non-community involvement. My example is Mark, a local fur who I get to see very rarely, who has settled down and has a little girl and has pretty much disappeared from the fandom.
- Members of the community but not fans themselves: I also have some local friends, Amy and Sean, who have been influenced somewhat by the fandom by furries enough to the point that they have attended Anthrocon (when it was local), looking for fun and entertainment, despite not considering themselves furry fans. There are people who follow their friends, family or loved ones to furry conventions and get involved, but would not have anything to say in a discussion about furry interests. Another good example of this would be Grandma and Grampa Kage, who love Anthrocon, get involved every year, and interact heavily with furries there, but are most likely not fans of the interest themselves.

A -prominent- member of the furry community is -most likely- going to be a furry - but we're not just talking about prominent members of the community.

Compare these definitions to, let's say, a Whovians, Trekkies, Harry Potter fans, or a Brony. I find it pretty consistent:
There is no prerequisite for becoming a member of any of these communities, other than wanting to talk to other members therein for any reason, even if you don't share common interests. There IS a prerequisite for being a fan - actually having a solid interest in the subject matter. Watching "every episode" or "every movie" or being involved with the community is NOT a prerequisite for being a fan OR a member of a community.

For example I would say I have a sufficient interest in My Little Pony, but I am in no way a member of the Brony community, because I don't interact with them at all. (I do occasionally talk pony with other furries though. When my MLP interest was at its peak I co-hosted an MLP panel at a furry convention: a brief singularity that merges the furry and Brony communities.) Unfortunately the label "brony," like "furry," is once again ambiguous and confuses the two separate and independent concepts of "liking a thing" and "joining people who like the thing."

I'm also a huge fan of the Doom franchise, and there's still a huge community based around it, but I am not a member of that community.

The abstract terms "fan" and "fandom" should not be confused with one another.

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I made my definition more specific than yours because I don't think it's properly addressing everything. If you go to my original article on redefining furry you'll see why I put in each aspect of the definition. For example human-like characteristics is a very vague idea. Would a normal chimpanzee character in a show be a furry because it has some human-like characteristics? And are human-like characteristics ones that only humans have and no other animal? Or is having body hair a human-like characteristic?

Furry fandom and furry community are interchangeable in a sense. The furry fandom can be many things at the same time. I'd say it's a fandom and a community and perhaps a sub-culture. What I took issue with here was saying that it was one of those to the exclusion of being a fandom.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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You have it mostly right. The problem is, a lot of people go by the Wikipedia definition of fandom, which is not the same as the dictionary definition. Wikipedia is written my internet geeks who assume fandom includes some social connotations. They do not take into account that many people still do not have access to the internet, or even if they do, don't make contact with others through it. But these people may still be active fans of something, whether they have friends to share it with or not. And the dictionary definition of fandom states, "1. All the fans of a sport, an activity, or a famous person. 2. the state or attitude of being a fan."

Thus, properly, Furry Fandom is all the fans of the object of Furry Fandom, which is anthropomorphic animals.

The Furry Community is simply Furries gathered as a collective. The community is the only thing that has the potential to define itself, because it's an original idea. It's something people join by choice. So you could say, self identifying as a Furry indicates belonging to the community, and that belonging to the community implies going along with community set standards, whatever those might be.

It's kind of hard to set standards if the community has no leadership, but that won't stop web sites and conventions from setting standards.

The community is naturally inclined to disregard any consideration of Furry Fans who do not participate in the community. They aren't there. So the community doesn't have to worry about their needs. The controversy is that some think a good number of the Furry fans who aren't there are absent because the community goes out of its way to make itself unattractive to them.

The community is further controversial because it has no great emphasis on the betterment of Furry Fandom's object. Some fans see it as a detriment to the object.

These are just some of the factors the community has to take into account while defining itself. In my opinion The Furry Community fails to meet the needs of the overall fandom, as well as the appreciation of the artistic idea it supposedly exists to honor. In fact, I constantly encounter Furries who do not want the community to serve the interests of the object of the fandom or its fans.

JM, for instance, is of that school of thought which says the community ought to exist as some kind of social network, and nothing else. And people of that school can make quite a convincing argument to that effect. But it remains to be seen if the community could survive as anything at all if that reasoning were allowed to define it.

I'm of the school of thought which says the community should have some responsibility to the object and the fandom as a whole. But that's a very unpopular school. I don't expect to live to see a Furry Community that actively strives to make its object and its participants look good, or that makes an active effort to assist fan creators to find the resources they need to produce works they can display to the outside world with pride.

The most popular school of thought is that The Furry Community defines itself by how Furries are seen to act, what interests they profess, the quality of the products they produce, and so on. And because all this fluctuates over time as the membership of The Community varies, this changes from year to year.

Thus I would say that The Furry Community is best defined as just one more product of Furry entertainment, which is not only consumed by Furries, but is also found entertaining by outsiders. It is not a tangible thing, just a really big show which includes a heck of a lot of comedians and shock artists. And I suspect I'm one of the comedians, even though I have no feel for comedy at all. I try to be serious and logical, but like any other Funny Animal, my logic is total nonsense when viewed outside the context of my own cartoon.

That's what The Furry Community is. It's Toontown. And we're all the toons that the world loves because we either make them laugh or go WTF! with our toonish logic. But we're not the ultimate embodiment of Furry Fandom. We're just those relatively few Furry fans who think it worth our while to make a public spectacle of ourselves. Sensible Furry Fans stay home and watch real cartoons.

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I don't really think "fan" means anything different to a culture... considering the fact that every creation is always inspired from somewhere else, deeper to one thing, or less. (Sometimes forgetting the original start, though doesn't change that it's fan like.)
Are "furries" fans? Yes, maybe but many other known cultures (Gaming, Movies, Arts, etc) has pretty much the same thing.

Furry - "Fan of Anthropomorphic Characters", Sci-fi - "Fan of Science (Right?)", Video Games - "Fan of Free Choice of Media", Movies - "Fan of Arts, movement, and acting", Art - "Fan of design, detail", etc.
And all got created by being inspired and influence by a start of someone or multi, these days if "Art" was new, it may be consider "Fandom" if people made more based off the idea by some people..
Also, they all share other things such as "Movies can share arts" for example.
Oh and "art" is probably the least media to be known by a "smaller" source.

I could say "Furry" is a "Fandom and a Culture (or community)" at the same time, and labeling should be up to anyone, not by others, even if it replaces "Fandom and Culture (or community) a bit. The same however would go to other cultures too (Even though, Gaming, Movies, Arts, are more tools but made of the same results, then again thinking about it "Furry" is kind of a tool used like the other ones.).

To extra note again: I say Furry can mean anything to you, even if it wasn't fan.

"Judging by the way JM has used fandom and canon, he seems to be implying that furry cannot be a fan of its own creations. But even as we grow on our own work, rather than "outside" sources we might want to ask why we can't be fans of our own creations."
Got to remember, in order for creation to happen, people would need to be fan of other things in the first place.
Seems kind of odd that you can't be a fan of your own works, people make stuff based on there interest (Inspire, and Influence). that's kind of how a culture works.

Speaking of this, I get reminded about how "little fandom" cultures get created like you know those "sonic" inspired things? In a way, I say this is another part of how "original" and "art" works because every creation in the world is basically made up of many parts that the creator never made. Vampires, werewolves, cats, (Some more known, some less) or whatever anyone can think of is like it.

Oh god, it's a bit hard to explain more about the history of things like this. xD
But yeah that's what I think all the time when I think about "Fandom" labels, "Arts" and "Creativity".

Diamond_Man.exe - Not real fursona
Science/Knowledge/Sense > Bias or Biased

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I would strongly suggest sub-culture rather than culture. I'm not a sociologist but I see culture having a much more unique history and sense of identity than a sub-culture would. Gaming, furries, sci-fi, etc are all sub-cultures and we can hopefully see that they are very different to true cultures like Itlaian, Japanese or Zulu.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Probably true. I mean these kind of "sub-cultures" don't come from deep history I think, though in a way, "Deep Cultures" all started by "mind systems"; once, they were "sub-cultures".
Guess in the future, depending what people do, it could one day become bigger or something or at least anyone can belief what life effect they want by anything.
Note: I still take the salt with me, just to avoid limited labels just in case. :)

Diamond_Man.exe - Not real fursona
Science/Knowledge/Sense > Bias or Biased

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Wow this is quite a discussion. Good response.

Just saying to nobody in particular... articles about "what we are" is one of those cues to outsiders to take potshots about echo chambers. If all furry articles were like that, it wouldn't be good. Don't forget to keep an eye on creating cool stuff too. :) That's why I don't care too much for labels. But if a label is needed, I'd prefer to call it subculture.

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I also think "subculture" is entirely valid. I think "fandom" tends to win out for the reasons the marketing department would pick it over "subculture". Alliteration, symmetry, rhythm, informality.

"Fur-ry-fan-dom", rolls off the tongue don't it?

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Wikipedia splits the concept of 'Fandom' into 3 specific types:

- Genre Fandom (Fantasy, Furry, Science Fiction)
- Medium Fandom (Anime/Manga, Sports, Video Games)
- Media Fandom (Bronies, Whovians, Trekkies)

Personally I think this is a good way of splitting things up. But then again, what is the difference between a fandom and a subculture in the end?

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Yes. Furry fandom (genre) can encompass elements of medium fandom (furries throughout anime/manga, sports, video games etc., in programming, merchandising, and in mascot costumes), and of media fandom (furries featured in specific movies, TV programs, and books like "Watership Down", "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic", "Kimba the White Lion", and Disney's "The Lion King", and individual furry characters in generally non-furry titles, like the animated Lieutenant M'ress of the "Enterprise" and the catlike Eeiaouans in the novel "Uhura's Song" by Janet Kagan in "Star Trek", and the few furry characters in "Dr. Who" like all the fluorescently dyed, gun-waving sentient poodles in the novel "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" by Paul Magrs.

Fred Patten

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From Wiki: "In sociology, and cultural studies, a subculture is a group of people within a culture that differentiates themselves from the larger culture to which they belong."

A fandom, when it has some of it's own ways of doing things will fall into the category of sub-culture. They're different levels of nesting. Like a New Yorker falls into the category of Americans which falls into the category of humans.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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The question I have is, what culture do we all belong to? Furry largely transcends language and national boundaries. Can we be a sub-culture of all these different cultures? Is furry linked to "Western" culture? What then of similar groups in Japan and China?

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Well I don't think everyone here has the same culture but furry would still be a subordinate culture. Goth is also a subculture that's global. It has it's own aesthetic and community etc but the details will vary according to location. I think it's been noted here a few times that furry never really took off in Japan, possibly because the elements are already accepted quite easily and there's been no need to form a unique community.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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So, here's my issue. I speak for a lot of furries when I say I couldn't care less about The Lion King or My Little Pony. There is a very large, very real group of furries who can't name a specific work of fiction that has significantly influenced their identity. We don't go to cons to get autographs from people who created that thing we like, we don't even really go there to talk about art or stories that much. It's really just a big party.

Furry art is still a factor. There definitely aren't furries who don't like furry art. But if being influenced and enjoying the amorphous collection of culture and imagery that surrounds us counts as being "fans," then is literally every American ever in the "Western culture fandom"?

Being a "fan" in a "fandom" seems to imply a very intentional, specific, hierarchical relationship between author and fan. Author creates thing, fan consumes thing, fan actively reacts to thing by loving author/hating author/writing fan fiction based on author. It gets a little bit muddier when you get into medium and genre fandom, but it's still a very specific reaction to some artist's work. Furry — beyond the fact that most of the art is commissioned, which throws the author-to-fan monologue culture into flux — has ballooned way beyond any specific reaction to anything.

Like, no, it's not even a genre fandom for a lot of us. Discussing and reacting to artistic works are not what any of this hinges around. The art is there, but that's it.

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I feel like you've missed some of the issues. I don't remember claiming that all furs had to like commercial media. Even if one can't name any specific work I doubt that means that none had any influence. Furry shows are a part of every Western child's childhood. The only requirement for being a fur was an interest in furry characters.

Western culture isn't a fandom because "Western culture" is not a specific thing. It's just a way to describe a number of cultures that arose together in a certain place.

I think you're forgetting that "fan" and "fandom" become especially muddy because of franchises. If someone is a fan of Disney they will go to work there. They will be both a fan and a creator. Just like Peter Jackson was a fan of Lord of the Rings and so created a movie based on it. There are now fans of his movie and he is a creator but he is still also a fan. In furry the fans are fans of, for simplicity, anthropomorphism, not any one artist's work.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Well, it's like this. In fandoms such as Anime and Furry, the idea of what people are fans of covers a spectrum of creativity, rather than a specific creator or title. The Anime fan may not be a fan of any specific Anime title. He may be a fan of Japanese pop culture in general. That fandom has literally expanded its range to any pop culture coming out of Japan.

Furry Fandom follows Anime Fandom around like a big brother, imitating everything it does. So Furry Fandom has expanded it's range to anything and everything involving anthropomorphic creativity. Thus, a Furry is not limited to being a fan of movies, books, etc. You can be a fan of Furry art in general, or just a fan of other peoples' fursonas. Doesn't matter. As long as you can say you have a fanish interest in some form of Furry creativity, you're a fan of something Furry.

Neither fandom requires anyone to like everything they include. The interests of individuals within such a fandom are expected to be selective according to one's taste. So, a Furry that has no interest in commercial media of any kind is quite plausible. Nothing at all amiss about a Furry just liking to collect art and/or socialize with fellow Furries.

After all, even if one does nothing but create a fursona for themselves, they are creating something that other Furries can potentially be fans of. So, in a fandom like this everyone can be the object of the fandom and a fan at the same time.

Metagenre fandoms are a recent innovation. Don't expect them to conform to the rules of traditional fandoms for less complicated subjects.

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I agree with everything in this article, except that there is pressure on anyone to create a Furry avatar or fursona. There isn't. A lot of people on Fur Affinity have no avatar at all, or list their animal type as human. It's not a big deal to anyone.

Anyone who approaches the question of what is Furry Fandom with a minimum of logic will see that JM is wrong in his perception of the community. And he's by no means the first to try to paint the entire community with this same broad illogical paintbrush.

I do not understand why people insist on doing this time after time. If you just leave the community alone it has no trouble at all understanding what it is and what its about. And we are all very happy.

If you take from that that we are happiest as a community when nobody is telling us what we are and what we have to accept, one would logically conclude that such rules of definition are foreign to what we are.

Obviously, beyond the shared interest in anthropomorphic animals that brought us together, we are not any one thing. Beyond that one common thing, diversity rules The Furry Community. And the only thing that brings peace to The Furry Community is the acceptance of that diversity.

No one would deny that fans tend to make a lifestyle out of their shared interest. Being a fan and altering one's lifestyle are really inseparable aspects of the same thing. This is particularly true of Furry, because Furry is an allegorical concept, and allegorical concepts have mind expanding properties.

Becoming a Furry involves a change of thinking, or at least an opening of the mind. So our lifestyles are all changed to greater or lesser degrees by it. But this is such a natural part of the fandom that few of us actually notice it happening. We think we're just having fun, but actually we're learning a lot of stuff along the way, expanding our horizons, becoming better people who can tolerate things that aren't so easily tolerated in other circles of human society.

Unfortunately, because we don't notice this aspect directly, it doesn't get talked about too much, and we become easily confused when someone comes along insisting that fans and lifestylers are different things, and that one should be considered more important than the other. But this is really as illogical as a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup insisting its chocolate is more important than its peanut butter. Peanut Butter + Chocolate = Reece's. Furry fans + lifestyle = Furry Fandom. Just like Anime fans + lifestyle = Anime Fandom.

And, believe it or not, that is nothing even remotely new. Say you were in World War 2 and you looked up to see a bomb falling towards you with a Furry character painted on it. You probably wouldn't have had time to contemplate the fact that somewhere in the sky above you was a man who was liking that character far into his adult years, enough to spend considerable time painting that character on anything he could find to paint it on, and thereby living a slightly different lifestyle from the people around him, possibly even using Furry as a device for adjusting to life in war.

The mere adoration of Furry characters into one's adult years is a deviation from societal norms. It is a lifestyle choice. You just can not separate the two things. When you try, as JM is doing, you end up with Furries trying to take up sides against themselves. And the only way they can do that is to redefine lifestyler to its most radical extreme, while redefining fan to mean someone who can like Furry characters without deviating from societal norms, which is not possible.

And once you get everyone taking up sides from these ridiculous perspectives, all hope of a logical resolve is lost. Everyone will be doing flips and twists to try to somehow justify their illogical perspectives until all reason will be out the window, along with all the special benefits this fandom provides us with.

So when you encounter people like JM who try to tell you this stuff, remember that you wouldn't be here if you weren't a fan of something Furry, and that just being a fan of that one thing caused an alteration in your lifestyle, got you doing things you wouldn't otherwise be doing, with people you wouldn't otherwise be knowing, at places you wouldn't otherwise be going. So if there's a conflict between fans and lifestylers, you're on both sides, and the JM's of this community are trying to put you at war with yourself.

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Truth is, I think Perri and JM are spit roasting the same anthropomorphic personification of Crazy; oh, one's at the ass and the other's at the mouth (and they can argue amongst themselves who has what), but it all comes down to them being up to their balls in batshit crazy.

"Mind expanding," indeed. Same thing as JM's assertations that furry is a great opportunity to grow as a person. Whether or not that's true is kinda beside the point; the creepy part is you two have put all your eggs in the furry basket, along with a good deal of your marbles.Both of you sound like freaky ass Moonies or Manson family members; you're already drank the Kool-aid and got your Nikes on for your trip to Hale-Bopp.

Not that they're the only two; cults like Scientology work by targeting the same "young people" JM so wants to improve and then seperating them from the rest of society so that they have no access to outside opinions. Or even outside people, period. It's hard to leave a cult when everyone you know is a cultist; likewise, if your only social interaction is with furries, leaving furry behind, for whatever reason, becomes that much more difficult because it's all you have.

JM is obsessed with the quest for self; even setting aside the fact that "for self" is the very definition of of "selfish", and therefore a questionable pursuit in and of itself, I would like to point out pretending to be something you're not on the Internet (say, a horse) is hardly a great way to be truly yourself. Perri, meanwhile, is trying very hard to ascribe deep meaning to that which is trivial; watching cartoons only makes you better at watching cartoons (and the bitter irony here is that a lot of furries suck at watching cartoons). Also, Perri's WWII bomb illustration is in really poor taste, and I started this comment with a gangbang metaphor.

On the plus side, neithe JM or Perri are actively forming cults; they believe their own verbiage, God bless him; what furry really needs if we want to take this to real cult territory is a charismatic if manipulative leader. Luckily, the average housecat has more charisma than the average furry, so we're pretty safe there.

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If I were at all sane by the common human definition I doubt I would be here caring about all this. The root word of fandom is fanatic. And fanatic does not equate with rational. When you enter any fandom you are down the rabbit hole, and you must adjust your rationality accordingly.

Thus I don't talk to people who have no awareness of Furry Fandom about what goes on down here in our particular rabbit hole, because I don't expect them to have any awareness of the rationality that makes Furries, Bronys and Otaku appear sane to the people they share their environments with.

But down here in the Furry rabbit hole, there are some things I expect my fellow Furries to have a shot at comprehending. One being the fact that Furry was initially developed as a teaching tool, a method of exploring and analyzing the human condition, teaching religious principles, and making social statements in a way that would not get one in trouble with the law. And though we have developed much more frivolous uses for Furry in this day and age, those educational/mind expanding aspects are still part of the very nature of Furry. Indeed, it seems most people who spend any time at all just living behind a Furry avatar will learn something about themselves from it.

JM and I do not disagree on that point. Where we disagree is in whether what you learn from your Furry avatar is the be all end all of Furry. I say that's a rather limited perspective in a Wonderland where one is constantly bombarded with brain stimulating allegories, designed to communicate not only social and cosmic philosophies, but also never ending insights into the human condition. And yes, you do find these in cartoons, Furry novels, and just about every other form of Furry creativity. Sometimes these insights will even make their way into Furry porn.

Everything you see in the Furry arts is showing you something from a perspective that people who do not partake of Furry entertainment never get to view. It can expand your mind to be able to see things in a way that non-Furries can not. Or, as you say, it can be entirely trivial. Not every fur feels the need to look for deeper meanings in their cartoons. And I'm perfectly fine with that, for those who prefer it that way. But that's no call to be disrespectful to we who attempt to get something a bit more enriching out of this thing we're giving over such a significant portion of our lives to.

Anyway, I'm sorry you found the bomb analogy to be in poor taste. It would be nice if war was always found to be in poor taste. But I hope something of the point I was going for got through. And as for your gang bang metaphor . . .

http://b-29s-over-korea.com/Russelsheim/images/B-24_WHAM_BAM.jpg

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Hi, Perri.

I always thought "The Rabbit Hole Is Not a Metaphor" would be a great title for a furry documentary.

Maybe "mind expanding" is a phrase you should avoid; stick with educational. You sound like a hippy when you say "mind expanding," really more than a cultist (though I did bring up the Manson family, which is also probably in bad taste).

Of course, this reminds me of something JM said about me recently: "Crossaffliction seems like someone who would rather look at a photograph of some irises than Irises." Which is apparently some painting I'm supposed to be familiar with, but anyway, both assertations are wrong; what crossaffliction would rather look at is an iris rather than a photograph or painting.

Permit me to download a bit here:

"I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. ... I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author." - J.R.R. Tolkein

"They Came from Within, for instance, is about sexual promiscuity on one level; on another level it's asking you how you'd like to have a leech jump out of a letter slot and fasten itself onto your face. These are not the same areas of unease at all." - Stephen King

"Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar." - Sigmund Freud

"There isn't any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark is all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism people say is shit." -Ernest Hemingway

You say sometimes insights will even make their way into a furry porn. I say sometimes a penis is just a penis. Elsewhere in the thread I took JM to task for metaphorically comparing watching cartoons to eating poop; however, I will not make the opposite mistake and say it is eating filet mignon, either. Or health food, or whatever. Now, I am not against metaphor; metaphorical gangbangs would be hypocritical as well as in poor taste if I were.

There are two traps, however, those constantly seeking deeper meaning in everything. The first is obvious; sometimes, there just is not any deeper meaning. All the subtext people say is shit. Things become a Rorschach; not only is the subtext people say is shit, but it's their own shit to boot!

The other trap is, I believe, more dangerous. We are so busy searching for subtext and nuance and meaning and whatever it is we think we want we miss the forest for the trees. The movie Gravity is a great example; it was not nominated for an Original Screenplay Oscar, despite the fact it may win Best Picture, and that doesn't happen often (I think it will, but this year's race is really, really close; pundits agreed the Producers Guild of America's award winner would reveal the Oscar winner, and they ... produced a tie). Anyway, opponents of the screenplay said a. the dialogue was clunky movie stuff (okay) and b. it was simplistic (true, but beside the point).

But the thing is, what they were complaining about was its lack of "meaning," it's just a ride. Defenders kind of missed the point by claiming it was full of meaning and whatnot, but that's missing the point too, because the simplism of the plot helps the movie be what it is; i.e. a special effects driven sci-fi thriller. The decision to cut extraneous b-plots allowed the audience to get to what they damn well came to see quicker; a story of survival in space with some truly scary/thrilling scenes realistically rendered.

Now, the thing is, the movie has subtext, but subtext doesn't work if the TEXT doesn't work; and it's much harder to do create good text than subtext, if the massive amounts of gay fanfiction based on completely accidental subtext is any indication. The movie is what it is and that's okay; no, it's great.

What I'm saying is that the search for subtext distracts from the real reason works of art are enjoyable; the craft. Instead of pointing out a passage that roles off the tongue with humor and wit in Huckleberry Finn, high school English teachers ask us what the fucking river symbolizes, or how we feel about the N-word appearing so many times. Instead of pointing out that incredibly terrifying, vertigo inducing scene where Sandra Bullock struggles to free an escape pod from the International Space Station while it blows up behind her, pundits are asking if the movie "says" something.

Yes, the movie says something. It says "space is fucking terrifying." What the hell is wrong with that message, anyway?

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Ah, yes, the perennial dispute between Tolkien and CS Lewis. They were in the same fantasy authors discussion group, and Tolkien was constantly berating Lewis for his obsession with anthropomorphic animals, probably because anthropomorphic animals are allegorical of nature.

This is probably why I find Tolkien to be the most unbearable bore. And he remains one of the few famous fantasy writers that I claim to never have influenced me in the slightest. While I consider Lewis to be, if not a great writer, at least a historically significant Furry in the same situation I have always found myself in among my local fantasy creator friends who simply don't get my dedication to anthropomorphic animals, as apposed to more potentially profitable fantasy ventures.

Yes, sometimes a penis is just a penis to the one who drew the art. But the artist does not necessarily anticipate that someone may come along later and see something in the picture that can be used to draw an allegorical parallel to something else. For example, here's a rough sketch of a scene I'm contemplating for an upcoming episode of Spectral Shadows.

Christine will talk with St. James about Jeremy's continuing to be interested in Quistianity, and St. James is going to show her some Furry vore porn on the internet and tell her he sees the answer to her quandary in it.

Christine will be a bit miffed, saying she knows Ommans are supposed to be able to find universal truths on cereal boxes and stuff, but she draws the line at vore porn, since it reminds her of Gwen and her cronies in the Aslander world. Never the less, St. James insists on going on about the porn comic. And Christine protests that she just can't rationalize Santa Claus talking about porn, let alone her dad. To which he replies that she's old enough to know all old men are to some extent dirty old men. And she's also old enough that he need not keep up the pretense of having super human purity, even if at this point he does. And he goes on with his porn inspired parable.

Seems there's this big rabbit being licked off by this skunk/snake hybrid creature and looking quite blissful. A chipmunk comes along and says, "She's just going to eat you afterwards, you know." The rabbit replies that he knows this, but he doesn't care because it feels so good.

Christine is then challenged to determine what is it that the chipmunk can do to save the rabbit without violating morality. Christine suggests that the chipmunk should run and get a big horse to forcibly drag the rabbit away. But St. James reminds Christine of all the naughty fun she used to have in her pure human life back in the 60's and asks if she would have wanted anyone dragging her away from her pleasures, however dangerous they might have been. And Christine has to admit it is not moral to save someone from their fun if they don't want to be saved.

Christine then suggests the chipmunk could pull out a pistol and shoot the skunk snake after she eats the rabbit. Then he could cut open the skunk snake's belly and save the rabbit, allowing him to have all the pleasure and still keep his life. But St. James says that would not be moral, because the skunk snake is only obeying its nature as a predator. So it commits no punishable crime by eating the rabbit, especially if the rabbit submits willingly. So the chipmunk can't kill it with moral impunity.

For that matter, chipmunks are not predators, and therefore are morally unable to kill anything. Christine, being a peacenik, even in her pure human days, is in the same boat. She can't morally kill anything.

Christine eventually has to admit there is no moral way to save Jeremy from being eaten by Quistianity if he insists on willingly submitting to it, and she will have to leave it up to Jeremy to come to his senses and realize he is giving up all that he could potentially become just for a momentary good feeling that he surely knows by now will render him fodder for evil in the end. She must be like the chipmunk. She must shrug her shoulders and walk away, minding her own business. But that sure doesn't seem moral to her.

St. James admits it does not seem terribly moral to him either. The only ethical thing the chipmunk can do is stand there and plead with the rabbit to remember all the good things in life he is throwing away, which will probably be useless since the rabbit is obviously not listening. And all the while the chipmunk stands there pleading he runs the risk of being eaten too. Which, St. James adds, would be an even greater shame, since the chipmunk is obviously a more valuable person than the rabbit.

Christine says she did not know it was moral to consider one person more valuable than another, but she can see that if the rabbit thinks no more of himself than to let himself be eaten for a moment's pleasure, he certainly must not value himself very highly. She wonders what the chipmunk sees in him.

St. James asks Christine what she sees in Jeremy that makes her so concerned for him. She says he's a nice boy who could go far with a little redirection. And besides, Kacey likes him. He might be a good mate for her.

St. James then suggests that in this case Jeremy is the rabbit and Kacey is the chipmunk. This causes Christine great alarm, as she believes Kacey would be the type to risk her own life to save Jeremy, and Jeremy, under Quistian misguidance, would let Kacey be eaten by the monster as well.

At this Christine has a moral epiphany. She realizes that her moral responsibility is not to Jeremy, but to Kacey. And she says that if she witnessed the situation in the vore porn she would drag the chipmunk away that he should not share in the rabbits self destruction. And she says that is what she will do. She will take Kacey back to Suburbia and leave Jeremy to determine his own priorities.

Yes, sometimes a vore comic is just a vore comic. But the interpretation of the viewer in comparison to personal experiences is subjective. And this is how any kind of Furry creativity may become allegorical, whether the author wants it to be or not.

I do agree about missing the forest for the trees though. My first responsibility as a writer is not to weave some socially significant allegory into every scene. My first responsibility is to write an entertaining story that will stand on its own, whether anyone draws anything deeper from it or not.

I'd like to think my readers come away from my work with their thinking processes stimulated, but it is far more important to me that they should come away loving the characters and having a feeling that they really enjoyed sharing their experiences.

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It is possibly an urban legend that Tolkien fussed with and kept revising his "The Lord of the Rings" for years until Lewis finally said, "Tolkien! It is finished! Send it to your publisher!" Otherwise TLOTR probably never would have been published.

Fred Patten

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Go to 21:20 in the video. Though, indeed, the entire lecture is interesting.

http://www.desiringgod.org/conference-messages/the-friendship-of-c-s-lewis-and-j...

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Well, that's the "applicability" versus "allegory" debate.

Even Lewis said that the whole "Aslan was Jesus" thing just kind of happened; he didn't mean to do it until he did.

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I'm pretty much the same way. Most allegories that show up in my work just happen. I never sit down and ponder what I should write between the lines. If I see something appearing there I think that's great, but I know it would come out atrociously pretentious if I actively tried to do it.

As much as I like Narnia, Aslan is a lousy allegory of Jesus. Jesus was a lamb, not a lion. Don't know how Christians have been missing that for over 2000 years. A lion makes a better allegory of God, but even that is not perfect, since man is supposed to be made in God's image, not the lion. Aslan is probably a better allegory of King Arthur or King Richard. He has more to do with ancient British mythology than he does with The Bible.

But, if Aslan was supposed to be an allegory of how the British were supposed to believe God was manifest in their kings, that would be a perfect allegory. Which suggests that sometimes an allegory is more an illustration of how the author is screwed up in the head than the point he was trying to make. Or, in the case of Aslan, maybe the allegory is to show how the reader is screwed up in the head, if the reader insists on seeing Aslan as Jesus, when there is no comparison.

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Actually, you don't know your Christian animal symbolism well; in Medieval Christian art, Jesus is often symbolically linked to an oxen (in his role as sacrifice), eagle (in his role as deity), lion (in his role as king) and man (in his role as ... well, a man). These also represent the four Gospels, each of which emphasizes one or the other of the roles; John is the eagle/deity is the only one I'm sure of.

So Jesus as a lion does have some traditional backing; these aren't symbols that actually appear in the Bible, but they are common in Christian art.

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I was raised to believe that Jesus (or all three aspects of God) are both the lion and the lamb, and anything else that He wants to be. Since Man is in the image of God, God must be too complex to be represented as a single animal. The lion represents His aspects of bravery, nobility, leadership, etc., while the lamb represents His aspects of kindness, gentleness, compassion, etc. It is important to recognize the times that the lion is more important (applicable?) than the lamb, and vice versa; which God, being perfect, always does. Man, being fallible, too often allowed the lion to rule, and you got arrogance, the belief in the divine infallibility of kings, and the rightness of the upper classes over the commoners. There is one scene (I forget where) in the Chronicles of Narnia where Aslan appears as the lamb, which shows that Lewis did recognize the difference. I think that Lewis should have shown Him as something other than the lion more often. But that might have made the Chronicles too obviously preachy.

Fred Patten

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That was actually what I was getting at. There is a very distinct difference between The Bible stories and the British mythology that backs Christianity. The artistic symbolism of the church has so little to do with The Bible as to be laughable. It almost makes one wonder why they bothered to write The Bible if they were just going to supersede it with a completely contrary mythology.

But it's that very, very British mythology that is reflected in Narnia. And we who were not British, or Roman Catholic, or any of that stuff, just read The Bible and were only exposed to that mythology through King Arthur and Robin Hood movies.

Therefore, we find it difficult to rationalize the idea of Jesus opening his mouth and striking terror into people with his roar.

Jesus is a character who tells people to put away their swords. He's not a character recognizable by a tendency to hand out weapons and send people into battle.

But, of course, both C.S. Lewis and Tolkien were very British. So maybe the allegory worked for them. But for me, it's all I can do to keep from being offended by it.

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I remember there was another comment thread with a very similar discussion. At least I know where the lion allegory comes from now.

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"I agree with everything in this article, except that there is pressure on anyone to create a Furry avatar or fursona. There isn't. A lot of people on Fur Affinity have no avatar at all, or list their animal type as human. It's not a big deal to anyone."

Not entirely true. We are just as any group when it comes to our feelings towards 'outsiders'. We have those that are fine, but there are others that shy away at best or shoo away and make feel uncomfortable at worst.

I'm surprised you'd use FA as the example and ignore another community which I know goes against this statement, one which you are certainly a part of: the Second Life community.

Go to any populated furry hub, such as the GYC, and human avatars stick out all the more than some avatar on a webpage. Indeed, a furry avatar at the GYC will instantly cause suspicion for those furrys in the club that the person is a griefer and they'll make sure someone on staff is present because they are there.

It's sort of like a black Florida kid walking alone near a white gated community (Travon Martin case), or a white guy going to a club in Harlem (story from a coworker on him being suspected of being a cop). You stick out as an 'outsider'. While not all the people around are going to suspect you just because you're different, there is going to be a few that do.

It's nothing unusual in any group dynamic, and furry is no different in this regard. It's unfortunate, but it's what causes continual voluntary segregation even after the government has banned legal segregation.

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I live in a popular Furry hub on Second Life. I live in the Sunweaver community and DJ at all the clubs there. My club is there too, though it is closed at the moment.

It is a strictly enforced policy that anyone deliberately making humans feel uncomfortable at Sunweaver clubs be reprimanded. We are welcoming of all avatar types. We're Furries. We don't tolerate prejudice or persecution.

And don't believe any blown up exaggerations about humans having a problem with Furries in SL either. There are only one or two clubs, like Franks Place, the jazz club, that have strict no Furries policies. And who needs Frank's Place when every other jazz club adores Furries?

Goreans don't like Furries, but who wants to go among Goreans?

I'm loved pretty much anywhere I go in SL, and everyone who doesn't come to grief or otherwise act obnoxious is welcome in all the Furry establishments I have anything to do with. I've never once seen a no humans allowed sign. If we don't want people doing that to us, why would we do it to them?

Of course, I don't have much to do with GYC. I'm pretty sure GYC used to be IYC (International Yiff Club) Just the name used to scare me away from that place. If they have a no humans policy that just doubles my bad feelings about it. That would make them the Furry equivalent of Frank's Place.

Sadly, a lot of what used to be the main Furry clubs (Rainbow Tiger, AnthroXstacy) are no longer operative. They were all welcoming to human avatars.

For my first couple of years on SL I didn't live with Furries at all. I lived on a human island called SheDevils, which sadly is no more. Nobody there minded me being a bunny. They were very loving and treated me like family.

I've also been loved at all the human clubs I've DJed at. SL is just full of love. There are places you can go if you specifically want to be among obnoxious, hateful people. They tend to flock together, but they're a serious minority.

P.S.

The reason I talk about FA and not other sites is because I don't use any other Furry sites anymore, except Flayrah. And I don't come here very often anymore either. I'm a busy bunny and not in the best of health these days. I just don't have it in me to make the rounds of the Furry drama mill anymore. And the old adage has proven true. When I stopped looking for drama, I stopped seeing it. Thus Furry Fandom has become for me the peaceful and loving place I always believed it should be. Between SL, FA, here and sometimes LJ, I just don't need any other Furry social sites. I'm getting way more love than I can handle with those. ^_^

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I'm glad you've found happiness in what you're doing. And I will say good for you on attempting to create a community where humans and anthro fans be respectful of one another. I've heard from Weasyl that they're trying to do the same, and most certainly the bridge between humanity and furry I think is on the cusp of growing. However, to say we're there, that there is no longer a problem with integration would be a fabrication to me.

When furries and human avatars are truely comfortable with one another, we would need no law to enforce that furries treat human avatars with respect, or vise versa. We would need no laws that say blacks and whites should have access to the same opportunities and services. We would need no laws to prevent what is in our animal instincts. To pull into a pack. To create our own little communities, and even within our own community. To make it about A vs B. You're seeing that with the whole FA controversy right now.

Unfortunately there are those who find enjoyment in the struggles, in causing the chaos that causes seperation. For instance I don't think the GYC has a 'no humans' policy, it's just that if a griefing is going to happen, it is on a fresh account and so they have no anthro avatar. So the defensive behavior becomes learned. Others are naive to it and just give in to the instincts. My hope is that one day we won't need to have a rule tell us to respect those in human avatars, we just will.

I know you've probably worked hard your whole life to make the world around you a better place, and maybe in some ways you succeeded. But "The land of Confusion" is confused-- no generation will ever fix everything wrong with the world, it is merely the job of each generation to make the world a bit better then when they started out, and have faith that our children (or the children of others) and the ones following will handle the rest, ad infinitum.

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Well, I think we are definitely working towards that in SL. SL deals a huge blow to the human practice of judging people for their outsides, because in SL you get to know people from the inside first. And it's not like we have to do a lot of reprimanding. Maybe once in a year's time someone will make a thoughtless human joke in bad taste, and we'll have to pull them aside and say that was seriously not cool.

In an SL community, one is either down with the peace of the community, or they get banned. Instant peace is as simple as that. If they don't want to get banned they'll come to value peace. The real world can't have peace because it insists on making the peaceful people feel unwelcome, while making the unkind obnoxious people feel entitled. When you can convince people in the real world to value peace and love they'll have it. But not while they insist on valuing war and oppression.

SL is conclusive proof that what you get out of your world depends on what you put into it.

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It's good that your community is doing that, however I think the issue is that, like the fandom, you are extending your corner of the world to encase the whole. Sure, your club is doing this, but not all furry clubs do.

The thing is sometimes 'peace' as you put it is not a heavenly abode of milk and honey. Sometimes to have 'peace' in that way is to allow sadness and harm to others because you don't want to question those in power.

I say this from my personal experience. In my SL experience I was banned once. Why? Well that requires some background.

Back in the mid 2000s I was part of an old SL group called the "Furry Vermin". A club that played good music and had awesome people. I was good friends with the higher ups there. However, I was not, myself in a position of power. Long story short things went well until there was drama at the very top and the server shut down. I was not involved in this drama in any way. I was not banned from THIS server, it had shut down when the leader had shut it down. The leader, Teavin Marat (Bounder the Fox), and I remained friends, and do to this day.

So where does my ban come into play?

Well awhile later, one of the fox Vermins had gotten a boyfriend who owned a server and wanted to start a furry club. So the Vermin asked to have it named the "Vermin Outpost" to try and bring back that old Vermin spirit. It wasn't the large island it once was, but it was a place to hang out with people I cared for.

So one night it was a very few people there, however the sim owner and their significant other was there. There was a fight, and the sim owner was aggressive and abusive. It got to the point where the "boyfriend" decried that he had had enough and pulled all the buildings and objects from the sim, leaving just a pit of terrain.

The fox vermin was in shambles, and the boyfriend started to talk smuggly, enjoying the power he had over the fox to give into his whim in trade for his precious club back. It was at this point that I called him a griefer. He argued that he could not grief because he controlled the sim, it was his to do as he wished. I protested, I said if you're going to open your sim to a public club you treat those on the Sim with respect and don't bring them into your quarrels, to destroy what is built on the sim on a whim while others are using it as was intended is griefing, whether you own the sim or not. After some back and forth the ban hammer came down.

I then told Tae about what happened, gave him the logs. Eventually the club came back, but it was no longer the Vermin Outpost. It was merely the Outpost.

There are things that are far worse then conflict, if peace means allowing the abusive behavior to occur then is there really peace? I'm thinking of it like this: both heaven and hell as communities are without war, the difference is one is filled with individual joy, the other individual torment. So if I get kicked out of hell for stirring the pot a bit, so be it.

Obviously your community is/was fine, just don't confuse it as the whole of SL.

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I don't confuse it with the whole of SL. I said before there were places you could go to be among nasty people if you really wanted to, and that the nasty people tend to flock together. But you've hit upon something that is very important here. When the sim owner is a nutcase, or is partnered with a nutcase, expect that to become a place that turns into SL hell, and attracts SL hellions.

One of the things that helps SL peace flourish is first that there are no democracies. Every sim is to some extent a monarchy ruled by the owner. And people tend to settle in sims where they get along with the temperament of the owner. You tend to get like minded people flocking together.

Thus if one was a Furry, and one was not down with the idea of tolerating all manner of avatars, defending others against persecution, and seeing that things remained generally peaceful, such a Furry would not be living in our sim. This Furry would be looking for a sim where he'd be free to display offensive behavior and get cheers of approval for it.

Thus, SL freely develops both heavens and hells, keeping them separate so that everyone can be happy. And the only way to seek trouble is to go someplace where you're not supposed to be.

That's actually a third type of person. A griefer, really. Someone who deliberately goes into a sim to challenge its concept. They come in, cause trouble, get banned, feel really proud of themselves for thinking they accomplished something, peace is restored, end of stupid story.

Furries could walk around with signs reading "Frank's Place unfair to Furries," but why would they want to? Who gives a flip about what goes on at Frank's Place? If you think about it, it's idiotic to cry the blues because you can't go someplace where you're obviously not wanted. The minute a Furry hears that Frank's Place doesn't like Furries, that should become the most undesirable place on the grid. Why would any Furry demand the right to go there and be glared at by people who don't like him, when he could go practically any place else and be welcomed with respect?

The thing is, everybody, no matter how good or obnoxious, can find a place to live happily ever after in SL. Or, if they can't find one, they can build one. So nobody needs to feel disenfranchised.

To have the kind of peace you want to have in the real world, you'd have to disenfranchise a lot of people. You'd be saying to all the trolls, Furry haters, general bigots, Christians, Muslims, Jews, The American Government, etc. that they don't have a right to be themselves anymore. Everybody's gotta be a peacenik like me. But that idea doesn't even fly with peaceniks like me.

I wouldn't be happy living in a world where everybody was required to be exactly like me. Life is about diversity. And the reason SL is peaceful is because it provides a place where everybody can be themselves. But at the same time it does not allow one place any ability to be a nuisance to another. All environments are protected by a simple, non-life threatening defense mechanism called the ban hammer.

Therefore, what SL proves are the greatest impediments to peace are democracy and the demand for equal treatment in all places. And that's why you got banned. You were preaching democracy in somebody's kingdom. You were either not aware of the rules in that place, or you were bucking them. And that can be considered disturbing the peace.

Is a fight between a sim owner and his partner disturbing the normal state of peace in that place? Probably not. Such battles are probably a normal thing there. And the only people welcome in that sim are the people who can deal with it.

I'm aware that it's a bad feeling when you get attached to a place and somebody just decides to pull it down. But it's their place - not yours, not the public's. Everything in SL is somebody's private property that they are not required to let anybody use. And just because they've been nice enough to let you use it a while in no way implies an obligation on their part to maintain it.

So, we have a whole different conception of life going on in SL. Nobody can touch you there, if you don't want them to. If you like drama, you can find it. If you don't, you can just turn it off. It's a huge virtual world in which you need never feel compelled to share space with people you don't get along with.

And, if your going to sit in your space brooding about how Frank's Place, way over there on the other side of the grid, is unfair to Furries, or how people at GYC may look on humans with suspicion, that must be something you like to do. It's not something you have to do. It's a personal obsession. You've got this idea about how everybody in the world should be, and it just bugs you to distraction that people in far away places, who are in no way bothering you by being themselves, don't want to be like you.

But then you get up and you walk out of your virtual house, and you go to a nearby virtual club, and you notice everybody around you is pretty much the same as you. Maybe they're not the same age, not quite the same musical taste, maybe not the same hobbies, but they're all generally peaceful live and let live type people. And that is your chosen environment. You don't ever need to see any more of SL than that. You don't need anything more in life to be happy. And there's not a dang thing anybody who hangs out at Frank's Place and doesn't like Furries can do to take it away from you. Nor is there anything you can do to disturb the Furry free peace at Frank's Place.

I'm not sure if this type of thing could ever be applied in the real world, at least not by force. But in the future, it may become more common for everyone to spend a lot of time in virtual worlds, and they may just get accustomed to that state of peace and bring that live and let live state of mind back with them to the real world. And they may end up implementing it in the real world voluntarily.

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"Furry initiation ceremony" is the role playing scenario where the charismatic leader makes you a member. First a coven in matching Balto robes has a circle jerk around a pyramid of your favorite childhood teddy bears and plushes. When they're done, Uncle Kage emerges from behind a curtain where he was peeping through a little hole, and makes you swear on a copy of The Lion King that you saw nothing and know nothing about it. Then you are given your fursona, and truly become a furry.

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Sorry, I just got done watching Hot Fuzz.

The scene in the castle courtyard where the motive of the murders is revealed is one of my all time favorites.

Furry pretty much hit its height of cultural impact when it caused a minor jump the shark moment on CSI back when people still cared about that show. What culture that was, Green Reaper can't figure out, apparently never having heard of "globalization" despite being a UK ex-pat living in the US arguing with a South African (read other comments, lost guy).

Right now, Patch pretty much nailed the point when he politely made a jerkoff motion earlier in the thread about the whole conversation. It's like that time I pointed out people hate furries, and everyone disagreed by pointing out they are unaware of our existence, which, while fair, if anything even more depressing (and also doesn't really contradict the assertation "everyone hates furries" so much as modify it to "everyone who knows furries hates them").

I find the really depressing thing is that, if you are a fan of "anthropomorphic animals" (and I'm still making my own jerk off motions at the pretensions of that word, anthropomorphic, but that's another half-assed comment rant), the furry fandom is pretty damn superflous at this point on the basis of product alone. Furry creativity is really stagnant now; when the mainstream is consistently putting out better niche entertainment than the subculture dedicated to said niche entertainment, well, that's what we like to call a problem, in technical terms. Even when it comes to a medium such as webcomics, where you would expect furries to have the best, you know, furry stuff, I find the last two webcomics featuring animal characters I read and enjoyed are not actually by furries (they were "Prequel" and "Ask Jappleack", by the by).

Now, admittedly, those two comics share obvious traits that a. Show an obvious bias for a certain type of media awareness that I find interesting and b. Could very easily have someone making jerking off motions if their premises were summarized for them, which would be fair, except I think we may have reached the limit for metaphorical air masturbation for this comment, so you'll have to hold onto that for a minute. Umm, metaphorically speaking, of course.

Anyway, speaking of metaphorical sex acts, there's always the possibility that Perri and JM are actually two parts of a symbolic triple penetration with me the third act in this Crazy gangbang. If someone wants to make that assertation (I don't think that's a pun, technically, but it was intended), well, all I can say is I called vagina. I will brook no arguments on that part.

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My polite jerkoff motions could power a small Costa Rican village right now . Speaking of, it's pretty amazing I can catch a little wifi here. But I'll be off the grid for a while after this. It's an awesome week- sorry Greenreaper I never followed up on texting you about parties at FC! Maybe seeya at BLFC.

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I think one of the problems that arises with such definitions is that these don't have a quantic margin for labeling or not labeling. In other words, while we can percieve who IS a furry and who IS NOT a furry, it's impossible to define when such transition occurs.
This refers to fuzzy logic, which deals with approximation of truth. (Oh, the irony of using something fuzzy to furries... XD) Like for example, defining hot and cold. While one can definately know when the temperature is hot and when it's cold, there's no way to define when exactly it stops being cold and becomes hot, and vice versa.
Another problem is that defining such things are naturally hard to do. Like for example national culture. Define, for example, american. Or canadian. Or british. It would incredibly hard if not impossible to reach an ultimate consensus for such definitions, unless you use a non-cultural approuch, a document saying you're natural from nation X.
This is because such definitions are never ultimate. Everyone knows stereotyping is bad because it never reflects a person in question, simply because every single person is nevertheless unique, regardless of being american, canadian, british or furry (or a sum of these even!).

But I would say it's foolish to think this is some sort of war or drama or creating conflits in definitions that no other furries have in their lives, simply because most furries actually don't if there is such definition. It's not important for most. On the other hand, just because it's not important for most, most don't care or even think about means there's not such definitions that can be outlined. In other words, most furries are unaware of the problem of defining what is or is not a furry. But it's there regardless!

While I'd like to express my opinion on the subject, at the moment I'm not doing it. Not right now. Just because I don't have yet solid ideas in regarding this subject. But I think one import think to look out is thinking outside of the box. Maybe something that could aid in this analysis is defining what IS NOT a furry. Analyzing for example famous old authors of furry media, if they are/were furries somehow, even if not aware of. People like C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, C.M. Coolidge, T.S.Eliot, et cetera ad nauseum.

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About the author

Rakuen Growlitheread storiescontact (login required)

a student and Growlithe from South Africa/Austria, interested in science, anime and power metal

I'm a fur from South Africa, now living in Austria, who got into the fandom through my interest in pokemon and writing fanfiction. Outside of furry, I have spend a lot of my time in gaming (particularly Dota 2) and science.