Creative Commons license icon

Harbouring Classism: Australian convention chair highlights elitism in furry fandom

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (6 votes)

Late last year, Nightf0x, an individual who I have done furry panels about journalism and non-fiction writing, had his first furry piece published by DogPatchPress. Prior to his publication he had spoken with me about doing a review and offering advice on it. In this piece he discussed his feelings of a furry’s class and how that weighed more at a larger convention like Anthrocon where he didn’t feel such a thing at his more local gathering of Anthro Weekend Utah which has an attendance around 10% the size of the Pittsburgh gathering.

My main critique with this piece was that I had noted while he was speaking from his experience between the environments of smaller conventions against larger ones, it did not highlight, nor go into depth, why he felt that the larger one had more classism in it. There weren’t any major examples on classist behavior observed which would have sold the concept better, but instead all the article did in the end is note that it existed.

Little could have anyone suspected that in the last weekend of July, a convention from Syndey, Australia would provide us with a new neologism that would elicit more groans and eyerolls than even the infamous words of “yiff” or “popufur”. This word would become known as the highlighting of elitism, particularly that of fiscal abundance. More ironic is that the convention that coined this phrase was even smaller than the Utah convention at an attendance cap of 300.

This word is “fursuite”. A word put forth to the press by the chair of Harbour City Fur Con. It was defined as meaning “a fursuit that is cheaply made”; giving the example of a costume that is being worth less than $5,000. What followed in its wake was a stark look at classist behaviors at the small Syndey gathering, and the fandom at large.

Full suits good; partial suits bad

“I have seven suits and sometimes it’s hard to decide what to wear,” Mr Cattaneo said. “But, I think it’s a bit like getting a new pair of shoes — sometimes you just want to wear something because it’s new.”
-HLFC Con Chair in interview with news.com.au

With ownership of seven fursuits by their own admission, the convention chair obviously finds the costuming aspect as a primary function of their interest in the fandom. Another interesting thing to note that highlights the chair’s interest in the costumes is their choices in the guests of honor. One was RamonZeng Tiger, a talented fursuit designer from Brazil who creates under the organization Furry Machine. A well known example of his work being Crash Azarel who does short video skits with his suit. Another was Syber, who is yet another talented fursuit crafter who just so happens to the be the president of Made Fur You. Considered one of the most well-known fursuit businesses in the furry world.

Now it is not unusual for talented fursuit creators or performers to receive honorary guest positions at conventions. One would be hard pressed to say costuming is not an integral part of the fandom and certainly is a part of the identity of the fandom as a whole. Some would argue too much as the outside media seems to treat the costumers as the omnibus of the fandom, to which it is not. Unfortunately for those who are irate at this dubious connection, the leadership of the fandom seems content with this misunderstanding with the mainstream press as it’s better than their old belief that we are some sex cult.

What is unusual about this situation is that there were two guest of honors for the same year that revolve around one facet of the fandom. Usually the guests have a much larger variety of talents: writing, artistry, community engagement, and other such elements. So, it can be quite telling what a board or chair decides on for their guests of honor. For instance, Anthrocon typically goes for guests that are not members of the fandom directly, but are outsiders that create things more mainstream that are of interest to furs. This plays into their theme of trying to make bridges between the fandom and the outside world. In this way they try to make it a more approachable by inviting outsiders in. Likewise, it can't be seen as coincidental that those at HCFC who were honored just so happen to have connections to the part of the fandom that the leader of the convention had commented in the paper with his elitist tones. Who they chose to honor puts an emphasis on what they felt is the most important part of the fandom. In this case talented fursuit makers and performers.

After the mainstream press article was released, past pictures from the Sydney convention started enforce that these preferences went even further than guest of honor choices. People noticed that the fursuit photo taken at a nearby park seemed to have all high quality full body fursuits with no partials in site. Rumors started to come forth that those with partials, or what the chair would go on to call “fursuites” were ushered from the photo so that the more quality fursuits could be seen. One local source who contacted me indicated that the rumors about the segregation of partials from full suiters in the picture was factual.

The group photo rumour was indeed true, the partials were all pushed to the back.
Some of the attendees were crying, some are just kids!

Bullying Little Furry Classism at BLFC

If the quote of children crying sounds a bit familiar, then you may recall an American incident of similar caliber that had happened at Biggest Little Fur Con in Reno, Nevada this year. In it a young girl was bullied by a convention attendee for wearing a Maskimals tiger head. She left the gathering in sorrow at having been demeaned like that by another furry over the quality of her mask and she missed the photo shoot because of it.

In response the convention allowed some furries to give the young lady her own private fursuit photoshoot gathering in her honor. This made the message quite clear that such nasty behavior would not be tolerated by the staff. The individual who had bullied was also found out and had their badge revoked by the staff, the name of the aggressor never released due to privacy concerns that revolve around attendee revocation.

One could see this type of classist behavior in other hobbies as well. Like a motor head teasing a man who drives a minivan, or a PC gamer teasing another gamer who uses a laptop as opposed to a water-cooled desktop that consumes enough power to run a small town. There are people in this world that are so devoted to the altar of their hobby (some of those that literally have alters, such as religion) and put so much effort and finance into it that they can’t help but brag or demean those that are less devote than they.

Brunt Budgeting Banter Bruhaha

As a matter of disclosure, I had started developing this article in early August. As I was putting together the final words, another statement made by a Twitter user would create yet another example of classist controversy in the fandom. The tweet made by Elder Rubber Asylum was a common sort of joke made about fiscal irresponsibility that people had typically bantered in the fandom for quite a few years and as far as I can remember.

Jokes like this that point out the tendencies of furs to be seen committing to actions that are deemed as financially irresponsible are not uncommon in the fandom. Usually they underline those that will ask for an emergency funding for standard life items like rent, food, or transportation prior to telling the world they are purchasing art, a fursuit, or even a trip to a convention. Since these are not an uncommon statement or jest, it was quite surprising as to the reaction that was received by the tweet.

Classist accusations flew fast and furiously. The main point of those frustrated was that the impoverished deserve their vacations just as much as those that are well off enough to not have to live paycheck to paycheck. One anonymous source stating their feelings of financial exasperation in being guilted by their fellow furs about their fiscal decisions can be seen below

If you're the type who struggles to eat every month, maybe that one con is your only chance in a year or longer to see people who accept you as you are, and it's the only thing keeping you from losing that last little bit of will to live. If that's you, that shit can be worth it. I know first-hand what it's like to feel that crushing loneliness of your own poverty not only costing you opportunities in your day-to-day life but also robbing you of the larger opportunity to go somewhere where you actually fit in. It's where I am now. The idea that people in poverty should suffer the maximum possible austerity as punishment for their impoverishment is a byproduct of thinking that poor people are always poor because they "deserve to be". Because that's not accurate, nothing that follows from that is either.

I get that the OP of the quoted post has since clarified and heavily narrowed who they're talking about, so they can continue to poke fun at that exact kind of person in ways that also catch a whole lot of otherwise poor people in that net. The sentiment is still nasty.

This tonal shift in response to pokes at fiscal decisions has made it clear that some in the furry fandom have had enough with having the way they wish to spend their money questioned by their fellow furs, particularly those whom are not financially well off. But it would be biased to not note that furs who can afford exuberance and have drop down a large amount of money on fursuits also receive hefty criticism for their purchases, even when the buyer isn't using the moment to brag about their wealth like the HLFC example. So in this way the judgement of cash flow swings both ways.

In Conclusion

The standard way people like to think of classism is defined by fancy homes, cars, and jewelry and those that have those things looking down upon others that don’t. However, this does appear to occur in other forms. Such as one’s ability to understand trivial knowledge about the content their hobby revolves around, whether we’re talking religious texts or Star Trek quotes. Classism will exist as a side effect in society as long as people can peruse different paths or can hold different quantities of wealth or talent. And as it would seem, the furry fandom is not immune to the cult of stuff-ism, even if that stuff is the stuffed costumes we bear.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

You make it sound like furries such as Lupine Assassin don't exist, and Elder Rubber Asylum composed that Tweet purely out of classist caprice.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Haven't heard of Lupine Assassin since his conflicts with FurAffinity years ago, which were interesting but hardly could be defined as Classist.. He has behaved in such ways?

I tried to note that he was utilizing the tweet as a joke, not implying its intent. The reaction of others indicated that they felt it enforced classist views, regardless of intent.

In fact the quote utilized to highlight this view did end with the highlighting that it wasn't as overreaching as some had found it to be, but there was still feelings about the effect, irregardless of intentions.

The first two examples are far more blatant examples, with intent of looking down on others for sure.

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

Dude, he DID mention furries like Lupine Assassin. Just not by name. Was he supposed to? Why?

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

I honestly did feel kinda weird about my last Newsbyte (the FortNite panda skin), as it is basically $20 for a purely cosmetic aspect of a free game (basically in that it's 2,000 V-Bucks, which is approximately $20 bucks minus whatever V-Bucks a player has earned in game). But then I remembered that it is literally a virtual fursuit, and I decided not to worry about it.

It should be noted that FortNite has it's own form of classism when it comes to the skins; the Battle Royale mode is free, and players start with a small collection of randomly assigned "skins" if they don't buy the "Battle Pass" (which gives them a chance to unlock further skins) or just buy skins from the item shop. These "Defaults" are often disparaged as "easy kills" or otherwise bad players, somewhat justified by the fact that they are often new or casual players, but just as likely to be players of any skill level who want to play the damn FREE game for, you know, FREE. (Also, just an aside, but I'm glad Epic went out of their way to make skins in general, and the "Defaults" in particular, a racially and gender diverse group.) I bought the Battle Pass because it does give you something to work towards, especially if you're not exactly racking up the Victory Royales like me.

Personal note; I was totally going to buy the Panda skin, but I lost my damn debit card and had the bank freeze it the day before it became available in the store, so I guess I'll have to wait until it comes back around.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

This happened with TF2 as well. The damaged top hat whose name evades me now was seen as a n00b's hat.

Your rating: None

Despite having nearly a thousand hours in the game, I still wear the Ghostly Gibbus with pride.

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

People were definitely reading so much more than what is possibly there into Elder's tweet. Maybe the implication that spending money on conventions you need to fly to isn't always the best financial decision hit too close to home.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Well, I did have a recent joke that came to mind about our habits.

Furries: We worry about the consolidation of fiscal power under Corporatism creating power monopolies, yet we also seem to enjoy landing on hotel spaces. At some point this has got to be Stockholm Syndrome.

Furries: We are concerned about global warming, but please keep one room at the convention at the temperature of a meat-locker so we can wear these costumes that increase our overall body temperature to unsafe degrees.

Yeah, I do think that his joke was pointing out something, and that yeah, our fandom has an issue with inter-connectivity. The internet brings us closer together, yet for niche groups like ours it can make people feel further apart. I think the only way that is fixed is not easy, it's about getting together with people on a more local level and trying to keep contacts and local meets and gatherings going.

Hopefully eventually every region can have something going on so that the convention thing literally become a cherry on top instead of what people feel as being something required.

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (6 votes)

I'd love to know how you know all these furries that aren't complete apathetic idiots when it comes to politics and economics. Most furries I know it's like, man, talk to me about yiff, fursuits and art all you want, but if you can't have at least a half-informed opinion about important shit, just don't have an opinion. Let the grownups talk among themselves eh.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Well, here you are on an article where people are discussing opinions that are hopefully a minimum of half-informed. Looks like you found them all by yourself.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

All five of them.... Joy....

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (5 votes)

Real problem: "How can we get drinkable water?" First World Problem: "How can we get awesome fursuits?"

"Classism", what is that?

My impression (try hearing this out, as a source for some info in the piece) - it's a well intentioned topic but the framing is so mushy and relative, it's hard to make a clear point.

Fandom isn't the world or a culture, it's a tiny subculture. Leisure/luxury is relative to outside circumstance, affordability of con travel or an art career or plain popularity doesn't make a "furry bourgeoisie" with a dispossessed "furry proletariat". Fandom isn't a competition... caring too much about how many suits someone else has or their popularity says something about personal insecurity.

You especially see this weird exceptionalism with the Porn Artists Get All The Likes! complaint from Envious Clean Artists... like have you ever seen a porn artist have Clean Artist Privilege to work worry-free for Disney or whatever, outside the tiny fandom bubble? And who cares if you don't get as many likes as the next furry? What's the QUALITY of likes? A dozen true fans can outweigh thousands of meme-sharers who don't give a shit about the artist whose work got ripped off.

Fandom does have a strong DIY nature. You can spend the bare minimum on supplies to make a fursuit by hand, (like everyone who started doing that) or get a pencil and paper, and write or draw or start a blog, or anything else that furries do, for almost free.

I'm frequently astonished at how some people can look at some billion dollar bullshit movie box office number, or Hollywood industry circle-jerk award they will never get within a mile of touching, and go WOW COOL like it has anything to do with them. But then look at a patron putting a few thousand in an artists pocket as YOU RICH BASTARD. Holy lack of perspective!

(I give the same amount of shits to that, as to vicariously enjoying pro sportsball. I know it matters to someone, so that's cool for them, but the personal reward I'd get is from playing it or directly helping someone else play it.)

With relative perspective in mind, about cons and "class": I'd ask *local congoers* whether they feel accommodated, whose skin is on the line to pay for it, and who is volunteering (and they aren't employees)... if that feels like a club, well, IT IS one... there can be a strong community benefit/nonprofit element and what my buddy Summercat calls a "furry tax", but class can be a mushy frame while Do-Ocracy matters more than "that guy has more stuff and I don't like it". If an Australian con has an image problem to overseas readers, well, were you going to go, and are there plenty of others?

**************

Back to the article, general comments:

I think we're looking at a case of Telephone Game Syndrome. Like what is "fursuite"? Who has ever heard that before? How are you even supposed to pronounce that? I suspect this is a misquote or mischaracterization.

You can get the idea that the source article is very poorly done by how it called HCFC biggest in Australia (it isn't). When I shared the article the week it came out, I commented it felt like they threw in the kitchen-sink of legend/stereoytpe about furries just because they could, and did a shit job of trying to downplay and play them up at the same time.

As for what Captain Otter (the con chair catching all the heat) actually meant, I have an impression he's not quite the villain this paints him as; I know he gets local friction, but from other personal chat with him, I also got an idea that he isn't an unsupportive guy, maybe it's just expressed abrasively. He didn't do himself favors in what's quoted, though, for sure.

Elder Rubber Asylum is also a cool guy, I also suspect a major case of Reading Too Much into his tweet.

**************

In "Full suits good; partial suits bad": oh yeah, that there, the "only fullsuits" thing - that nugget of info really helps justify the topic... yeah, that's not cool! But... "segregation of partials from full suiters in the picture"... you know the connotation of segregation? That word means something VERY different outside of fandom. See what I mean about First World Problems and being relative?

**************

The BLFC topic: I hope readers realize that ONE, extremely excepted, example of someone getting a hard time was balanced by an INCREDIBLY MASSIVE freaking parade of support. I sure couldn't track it all... (I talked to the little girl on-site when it happened, too...) http://dogpatch.press/2018/05/16/meet-emma-the-tiger-blfc/

It might be an exception that proves the rule of how un-elite this nerd thing is.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

You can get the idea that the source article is very poorly done by how it called HCFC biggest in Australia (it isn't).

This critique I think you're confusing the Daily Mail's coverage with news.au

Here's News.au's statement about Harbour City Fur con

Aussie furries who spoke to news.com.au ahead of this weekend’s sold-out Harbour City Fur Con, a massive fan gathering in Sydney’s CBD which will be attended by well-known, international furry speakers, said those looking for sex in an animal suit make up just a tiny minority of those donning the colourful costumes.

https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/i-was-kicked-out-of-home-aussie...

It never claimed it was the largest.

The quote around the word fursuites was as follows:

....

WAIT A F*CKING MINUTE!!!

They changed the article!!

Son of a bitch, they're gas-lighting up in here, no notes about updating, but I literately took screen shots of the article for my video on this and the quote no longer exists!

Here is what the article says now:

“You can go to pretty much any major city and just go on Facebook and you can meet up with people who are into the same thing.”

A decent fursuit is a big source of pride for a furry and it isn’t just some tacky Halloween outfit you pick up from a costume shop.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that furries have sex in their suits,” Mr Cattaneo said.

Here is what it used to say (per a screenshot on my video about this topic a few weeks ago):
https://youtu.be/MP7RczUNmJg?t=34m20s

“You can go to pretty much any major city and just go on Facebook and you can meet up with people who are into the same thing.”

He said the "weird" furries -- such as those into furry foot fetishes or overly into the sexual aspect of the culture -- can be spotted a mile away because of their over-the-top, rainbow coloured fursuits.

"We call them 'fursuites', which is a codeword which basically means someone with a really bad furuit," he said.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that furries have sex in their suits,” Mr Cattaneo said.

The odd thing is your response in defending the guy made me think 'is he reading a different article than I did?" Apparently the answer to that question this time was literally yes. Yes you were.

I take back my critique at the beginning saying they never said it was the largest con in Australia as well. They very well could have, and changed it.

By the way, my take on what the word "fursuit" means is also in that video. I think the press writer meant to write "fursuitee" (Fursuit + Trainee) as opposed to what they wrote. Neologisms are hard to get right, and trust me it provides quite a unique challenge to writing furry news so I don't blame them on mistyping it.

But it's "fursuite" now, and that's what people have been using so, k sara sara.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Did he really show that the entire fandom is full of classism? or just one jackhole?

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Well, 2 jackholes at least, technically - unless Captian Otter visited BlFC and I wasn't made aware.

An entire group cannot be biased in a certain way, otherwise how would we define it as a bias?

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

You're wrong there. An entire group can be biased in a certain way but it needs something to compare to The larger the group the harder it is for it to be completely biased. Take a look at political parties. Biasism is also typicaly on some sort of scale such as Left wing to Right wing in politics.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (9 votes)

Life is classist. I don't have all the money I want, I can't travel as much as I want, or buy everything I want. That is a bigger punishment in itself than the opinion of some furry somewhere.

I don't think anyone who says partial suits are worse than fullsuits has worn a fullsuit in a disco for an hour, or during the summer, or in a poorly ventilated area for long. Partial suits have clear advantages that go beyond being cheaper.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Others include:
1) Cheaper to travel with/takes up less space.
2) Less susceptible to body changes (Bucktown is a well known example where he has noted that when he put on weight he could no longer wear his Tiger suit.

Your rating: None

I've found hand-puppets are even better on both counts! (Although you do still have to worry about rheumatism and the like.)

I regularly take a couple of puppets in my small backpack, along with clothes. Saves a lot of money over buying luggage.

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (4 votes)

You have it all sorted out, and these makers don't even know it. Like the cool kids say on the internet: "He's living in 3018".

Your rating: None Average: 3 (4 votes)

This reminds me of one line of thought that came up in some discussions at Eurofurence. A lot of people are not comfortable with and do not love themselves. That frustration then builds up and causes them to lash out at others. If you're comfortable with who you are or your suit, then who cares what the others are wearing? That doesn't affect you.

And yes, people will get upset when jokes come too close to home because it just reminds them of their own failings; the things about themselves that they don't like. You can't laugh at yourself if you aren't comfortable with yourself. We all have failings and contradictions in our lives. We just have strive to be better and do better. Sometimes we should just enjoy the irony.

"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~

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

I particularly enjoy the irony that you're analyzing humor as a person who never once given, or gotten any joke in any interaction I have seen.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (4 votes)

I find that hard to believe. I have no problem with jokes and I enjoy a good joke.

"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~

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (6 votes)

I too enjoy a general awareness of the human capacity for the sensation known as "humor"

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (6 votes)

*Beep boop beep*
Initiating joke assimilation process

*Beep beep boop*
ERROR results inconclusive; joke not found

*boop click boop*
Run mirth simulation override

"ha ha ha I comprehend the comedic nature of the preceding statements"

*click click whirr*
Process complete

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (6 votes)

Was it really so important that someone paid attention to you being a dick that you had to come back 5 hours later and be a dick again in the same way?

Your rating: None Average: 1 (3 votes)

you fucking liar!

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (4 votes)

I been thinking along a different path as is the problem is fursuiting gave up individual expression though crafting and became an elitist Haute couture status symbol. The top fursuit makers became out fashion houses.

Your rating: None

If anyone noticed, there was a nasty hit-piece article in australian news this week. but it's so poorly written it looks unlikely to be convincing even to outsiders. Nothing new in it. Best not to give it any traffic.

Your rating: None

Best not to give it any traffic

Well, I mean- their audience isn't exactly furries- it's the general public. Let it be what it is, who cares.

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <img> <b> <i> <s> <blockquote> <ul> <ol> <li> <table> <tr> <td> <th> <sub> <sup> <object> <embed> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <dl> <dt> <dd> <param> <center> <strong> <q> <cite> <code> <em>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This test is to prevent automated spam submissions.

About the author

Sonious (Tantroo McNally)read storiescontact (login required)

a Kangaroo from CheektRoowaga, NY, interested in video games, current events, politics, philosophy and writing