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Love ◦  Sex ◦  Fur

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Updated: 3 years 33 weeks ago

Adult comics and furry

Tue 6 Sep 2016 - 13:00

Today’s guest post in comic format by Nero O’Reilly. Nero lives, loves, and works in Seattle, WA with his two cats and one cute partner. He is a web dev by day, freelance illustrator by night, and a comics-maker at all hours. More work can be found at his portfolio site and his currently running webcomic at http://www.carnivorepla.net/

This untitled comic previously appeared in the Alphabet anthology and is published with the creator’s express permission.

Categories: News

Enjoying the Problematic

Sun 14 Sep 2014 - 13:00

Recently, on [a][s], I wrote about the ways in which one may interact with furry in different ways, and how these little trends with in the larger trend of furry (such as the micro/macro communities, etc.) lead to a more durable fandom overall. I stick by these words, too. As is often mentioned by countless members of our subculture, I think that the furry fandom itself gains much of its strength from the fact that it lacks a central canon. As a result, we find it easy to create our own microcosms within the microcosm of furry, and these may often flourish, sometimes despite the problems inherent in their existence.

It\’s often my habit to talk about taking a step back and looking at something from an outside point of view, and that\’s no different here. I want to take a step back and look at some of the problematic aspects of sexuality within the fandom. That the fandom intersects with sexuality in many ways is hardly surprising anymore, but the intersection between sexuality and problematic content is something that is occurs on a very fundamental level within society, and so it\’s worth taking a look at the ways in which furry sexuality can be problematic.

Someone I don't even remember following just retweeted a bunch of RL animal dicks now I know who to unfollow. Also feel kinda sick.

— Yackal (@Irid0n) September 7, 2014

The most obvious instance of the problematic within furry is that of problematic content. Zoophilia, which was tackled in this article by JM is probably one of the bigger subjects that registers as problematic to most people, as the reaction by Iridon above shows. As JM mentions in the opening line of his article, zoophilia is fairly visible within furry in a great many ways, from the art, to the members of the fandom interested in the subject. Zoophilia strikes many as problematic due in part to the issue of consent – never mind whether or not your partner issues consent, how can sex be seen as consenting when your partner is not even capable of giving consent?

Along similar lines is the proliferation of cub porn within our subculture. This also touches on consent out of the understanding that underaged characters may not understand sexuality full enough to be able to give informed consent – or to deny giving consent – when necessary. In JM\’s treatment of the subject, he bring\’s up Dan Savage\’s idea of \”gold-star pedophiles\”, as individuals who, while they enjoy the idea of sexual acts with underaged people, never act on the urges, which can be seen as a way of addressing and responding to the problematic nature of cub porn. It\’s a way to address one\’s urges without acting them out in a situation where consent cannot be assured to be given.

More general than problematic content is the idea of problemantic trends or sub-subcultures within the furry subculture. While many of these may revolve around content, I want to distinguish these as being more general: these trends may revolve around kinks, body types, or various other aspects of sexuality, and tend to be the kernel at the center of sub-subcultures within the fandom – tight- or loose-knit groups that form out of a shared interest in a particular topic.

One of these trends was called out in a self-styled \”rant\” by the user rampack at Weasyl, and specifically called out the use of the terms \”herm\”, \”shemale\”, and \”cuntboy\” as being problematic. The trend of characters that mix both primary and secondary sexual characteristics of both classical biological sexes within furry is nothing new, and has been around at least since I joined the fandom, nearly fifteen years ago. It was enlightening for me, seeing an explanation of why something that is seen almost as commonplace within our subculture is problematic, and seeing the discussion that the post engendered. Feelings are strong on both sides of the issue.

Another instance of a trend being called out as problematic comes from furry writer Robert Baird in an excellent essay on the act of checking his own privilege when it comes to the fact that some of his stories include non-consensual or what appear on the surface to be non-consensual sex (I know that sounds weasely for me to say, but I\’m trying not to spoil some of his very well written stories; I promise it fits in well with the plot) and even things such as cheating and impregnation. The essay, in part, describes the ways in which a creator of content that follows a problematic trend must at the very least acknowledge the problematic nature of their works. The essay itself is about much, much more than just that, as I\’ll bring up later, but worth a read all the same.

A third way in which the problematic intersects with furry is that of problematic creators. This is hardly intended to be a call-out post, so I won\’t use any names; I simply want to discuss the way in which people who can be seen as problematic are seen within the fandom by their audiences, whether intended or not.

On sharing a picture that I found attractive, not too long ago, I was filled in on the story of the artist by a friend of mine. The artist, it seems, had fetishized the concept of rape, and even though not all of their art included depictions of it – a majority of their pictures did not – the idea of rape and non-consensual sex came up often in their interactions with my friend. In the end, my friend calmly and politely cut contact, but the fact of the fetishization of something they viewed to be damaging and inappropriate stuck with them, enough that they shared their thoughts with me when I posted that picture to twitter. It made me question my own enjoyment of the artist\’s subject matter

Some instances of a problematic creator are even more stark than that, however. What does one do about the creations of an artist who actually is a rapist? Or one who has been accused of domestic assault? Or of theft, or of bribery, or of racism? At what point does the artist\’s actions start to influence the art that they make, and, as a completely separate question, at what point does it start to affect one\’s enjoyment of the creations? It\’s not a simple set of questions, and the answers will vary not only by creator, but also by consumer, and factors outside the creator-consumer relationship.

So what does it mean to enjoy problematic things? As Robert Baird puts it in his essay, \”Attempting to police what people like is a fool’s errand indulged only by the recreationally irate\”. The things we like are, simply, the things we like. Our preferences are rarely consciously chosen, and may often wind up being problematic. While that\’s certainly okay – there\’s nothing wrong with liking the things you like – it raises all sorts of questions:

  • Should you support the work with money? Example: Would you pay to own a copy of Chinatown, or merely watch it when it came on television?
  • Do you differentiate works from different eras in the creator’s life? For example, if you have a favorite book and over time the creator turned progressively homophobic, can you cherish the work written before that transformation, or do you judge it by the author’s “final form,” as it were?
  • How much weight should you give to historical context?
  • How much do you care about a creator’s personal life?
  • Does it matter whether the creator is living or dead?

(This list comes from an excellent essay on the subject by writer John Scalzi, and is definitely worth the read.)

Consciously chosen or not, what is needed is conscious treatment of the subject – whether it\’s a piece of media, a subject matter, or a problematic creator. Although it may be easier to simply enjoy something without thinking about the consequences of that thing in particular, it\’s important to our interaction with those around us and our place within a culture, subculture, or interest group not to treat things in so cavalier a manner. An essay puts this in an elegant three part list, which is worth reading on its own for the author\’s explanations of each of these items:

  1. Acknowledge that the thing you like is problematic, and do not make excuses for it.
  2. Do not gloss over issues or derail conversations about the problematic elements of the content.
  3. Acknowledge other interpretations of the media you like, even if they\’re less favorable.

What this boils down to, really, is not sweeping the problematic aspects of the media, trend, or person under the rug: it needs to be acknowledged, it needs to be discussed fairly and openly, and one needs to be open to other interpretations and criticism of the thing one enjoys. It\’s sort of a way of challenging doxa, when it comes down to it. One might accept the fact that herms are just a part of the furry fandom, always have been, and always will be, but one needs to take a step back and understand that the word and the concept are problematic for a good number of people, a thing that\’s worth keeping in mind and not dismissing out of hand.

In the end, it is important to, in the words of Anita Sarkeesian, \”remember that it is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of it’s more problematic or pernicious aspects\”. The point is never to condemn the idea of enjoying something that you find enjoyable, but simply be aware of the conversation surrounding it.

Categories: News

Diversity Of Animal Sex A Boon For Furry Porn

Tue 8 Oct 2013 - 13:00

Guest post by Rakuen Growlithe, an author and artist from South Africa who writes both fiction and non-fiction. He is a SoFurry Ambassador and contributing editor for Flayrah. Outside of the furry fandom, he blogs about topics that interest him and is studying for his MSc in human genetics.

Although none of the links are pornographic, some of them do show graphic depictions of animal genitalia and are NSFW.

Yiff. That\’s what the fox says. It\’s also been a fairly contentious topic in the furry fandom, even though about 89% of furs look at porn. One of the best things about the furry fandom, and especially its porn, is the freedom and imagination that can be exercised. We can be and do anything, without needing to worry about whether it would be possible. Even basic anatomy gets spiced up for the fandom with most characters sporting the now-ubiquitous canine knot. But, the knot is hardly the only interesting animal feature that can be appropriated for furry pornography and this article, aimed at authors, artists and the curious, is going to share a couple of the more interesting features out there.

Mammals

Let\’s start by noting that the human penis is unusual among mammals in that it lacks a baculum, or penis bone. Carl Zimmer has a more detailed article on the baculum but the main message is that we aren\’t yet sure what its function is or why we don\’t have one. Some other animals that lack a baculum include the elephant (who certainly doesn\’t have to feel inadequate in that area), hyenas and ungulates. We can even include dolphins among the ungulates due to their evolutionary relationship. Just this year, scientists reported the first observation (video included) of spontaneous ejaculation in a dolphin. Otherwise, in the furry fandom, dolphins seem to be most well-known for having a prehensile penis. They are not the only ones with this ability as both elephants and tapirs can move their penis at will, demonstrated here.

Now that I\’ve mentioned hyenas, let\’s spend some time with them as they are quite interesting. Hyenas live in a matriarchal society, meaning that females outrank males. Female hyenas have comparable levels of testosterone to, can be larger than and, outwardly, look much the same as males. Their external genitalia is almost indistinguishable from a male\’s, leading to the myth that they are hermaphrodites. The truth is that they have a nearly 17 cm (7 inches for those in Burma, Liberia or the US) clitoris and a scrotum-like pouch! This is probably a consequence of their high testosterone level. In human sexual development, the penis develops from the same precursor tissues that form the labia minora and clitoris in females while the scrotum is formed from the same tissue as the labia majora.

In the land down under, things become even more peculiar. There we find the monotremes (platypuses and echinda). This small sub-set of mammals are the only ones that lay eggs, instead of giving birth to live young. Platypuses, like other mammals, they produce milk for their offspring but, unlike other mammals, lack nipples. Instead the females secrete milk through their sweat glands and the platypups lick it off the skin. Our own milk production is also from modified sweat glands though, so perhaps it\’s not as strange as it seems.

Kangaroos, however, are definitely strange in that the females possess three vaginas! Unfortunately for furry pornographers they still have only one external opening, preventing large group scenes. It does, however, mean that they can be permanently pregnant, something that\’s also possible in hares. In male kangaroos, the testicles sit above the penis and can be extended and contracted at will.

Reptiles and birds

It\’s well-known that snakes have a hemipenis, though not used quite the way as portrayed in the furry fandom, but another reptile has something perhaps even better. An important role in pornography, now replaced by drugs, belonged to the fluffer, the person whose job it was to sexual excite actors before a shoot. It would be so much easier if no preparation was needed, and that is the case for alligators. Instead of needing to inflate their penis, it is always hard and can slip out almost instantly, ready for action.

Birds in the furry fandom are seldom anatomically-correct. It\’s quite possible that most furs will remember that birds possess a cloaca, a single hole for defecation, urination and copulation (with the former two occurring simultaneously). What does not seem to be as well-known is that 97% of birds do not have a penis. One of the few that does is the duck. That doesn\’t mean they can be drawn all hard and dripping though, as a duck erection grows straight into the female. In this case, straight might be the wrong word as both the penis and vagina are twisted into a corkscrew shape (which can be seen in the video at the previous link). In addition, while we, and most animals, get an erection as blood floods the penis, a bird\’s erection occurs because the penis becomes engorged with lymph.

Invertebrates

\”Tell me what kind of weapon is love when it comes to the fight?\” If the parson from Jeff Wayne\’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds had just asked a hawkmoth he might have had an answer. Like many insects, hawkmoths are in danger of being eaten by bats. Scientists found that hawkmoths, in response to a bat\’s echolocation, emit their own ultrasonic cry. They do this by rubbing their genital scales against their body! It\’s not clear whether it\’s a warning or intended to confuse the bats but it\’s certainly a novel use of their equipment.

Other invertebrates are willing to sacrifice their genitals for sex. This is the case in certain spiders, where the male snaps off his penis during sex. There are a few possible motivations for this seemingly bad decision. Since there\’s a high risk of being eaten by his mate, detaching his genitals, which continue inseminating the female, offers a better chance of passing on his genes. In addition, without his penis weighing him down, the male spider has 80% more stamina. This could allow him to prevent other males from mating with the same female. Seaslugs take the idea even further. When one has finished mating (I can\’t say the male as they are hermaphrodites) it snaps off a part of its penis. It\’s able to do this three times before nothing is left and it has to wait for a new penis to grow!

To finish off, let\’s look at a case of cupid love. Or maybe it\’s intense BDSM play. Snails, apart from their goo fetish, take the idea of penetration quite literally. When mating, they (hermaphrodites again) attempt to shoot one or more \”love darts\” into their partner. Just as it sounds, this involves an actual dart being stabbed into the other snail in no specific place. This isn\’t a part of the actual sex itself but the gastropodal equivalent of foreplay. There is a serious side to the kinkiness. Successfully darting their partner both increases their sperm\’s survival and lengthens the time before their partner mates with another snail.

Last word

This article doesn\’t even begin to cover all the anatomical and behavioural variety that exists out there, all of which is available for the furry fandom. I doubt we\’ll suddenly see everything being used but a couple of these have shown up in art or stories before and this may serve to make artists think harder about their work. Hopefully we can see something more imaginative coming out than the regular knotted cock, as sexy as it is. Hey, we may even learn something from our porn.

Categories: News

Dating and Relationships Inside the Fandom

Sat 5 Oct 2013 - 13:00

I\’m a very big proponent of the idea that, for the most part, furry is simply a small slice of society at large. We have our skews, of course – the gender skew (towards men), the age skew (towards the 15-25 year old age range), as well as some other, minor skews such as general technical aptitude, or even species selection toward canids – but for the most part, we do not think or act so differently from the \”rest of the world\” that we cannot interface with it. Our chosen home and family may be more comfortable for us, but we do not exist separate from everyone else.

It\’s not surprising in the least, then, that dating and relationships do form a part of our membership with this subculture. We think about it, we write about it, we join websites, make websites, or write litanies against websites focused on dating, relationships and love. It\’s part of life, and so it is also part of the fandom. Given the subtitle of \”Love and Sex in the Furry Fandom,\” it is also part of our repertoire of subjects to write about, and so I think it\’s high time that we took a moment to explore dating and relationships inside furry.

Much of what got me interested in writing about such things as this is the propensity of furries to center a good portion (if not all) of their social lives within the fandom. This does extend to dating and relationships as well: a casual observation points to the fact that many (though hardly all) furries seek out romantic relationships within furry itself as part of an aim to build a life within the social group that means so much to them.

This isn\’t surprising, nor even new. It is far from uncommon for individuals to build up lives within the smaller communities of which they\’re a part. Americans, after all, don\’t simply have all of the American population available to them as a dating pool: they\’re restricted by geography, of course, but they also tend to restrict themselves further by interest. Sports fans, hanging out with sports fans, are more likely to date other sports fans, and the same goes for gamers, hiking aficionados, dog lovers, et cetera, ad infinitum. That is what helps to build up strength within a subculture: members do not simply enjoy things on their own without communication, but share that enjoyment with others, and grow closer in the process.

In this sense, our membership acts as a sort of attractor in a complex or chaotic system. If we look to furry to form our strongest relationships, and forming strong relationships helps to strengthen furry, then it\’s likely that furry will be a more likely place to look for those seeking to form relationships. As with all complex situations, this is not all that\’s going on behind the scenes, but still a large part of it: a shared interest gives us something in common, and so we form bonds around that shared interest. The sense of community plays a large enough part, however, that we would be doing it a disservice not to recognize it.

So what do we gain from dating within the fandom? Of course, one of the more obvious benefits is a ready-made dating pool. That is, there are a large amount of visible potential partners out there. The visible aspect is particularly notable, and I think that this ties in with our heavy reliance on electronic communication. In person, a sports fan, gamer, hiking aficionado, or dog lover is not necessarily visible as such – it\’s not tattooed on the front of their face nor written across their back (well, okay, appearal aside). Online, however, one need only compare the names and icons on a furry Twitter feed versus one dedicated to, say, tech. The preponderance of animal face icons or species in names is readily visible. We do have our outward signs of membership, and we can often see immediately when we are talking with a member of our subculture.

This is additionally relevant when it comes to learning more about each other. The ability to research our friends and potential partners is an activity that might come off as stalkerish if not for the quick and relatively simple ability to find out more about someone one is interested in via their FurAffinity/Weasyl/InkBunny profile, including even the type of art (or sex, for that matter) that they favorite or content producers that they follow on such sites. This is not to excuse actual stalking, of course, which is still a potential hazard within our subculture, but more on that in a few. The take-away here is that we live our lives publicly by virtue of participating so heavily via the Internet.

Additionally, there is added security in dating within the fandom, as no one necessarily has \”that weird partner\” that folks talk around rather than about. You know the one. The one that\’s, for instance, super into animal people on the Internet. We gain security by starting and maintaining relationships that conform to the expectations and visions of our friends and social groups. That is, a relationship within the fandom is not considered non-conformist, and so we gain all the benefits of social conformity – at least, within the fandom – that go along with a socially conforming relationship outside the fandom.

Of course, the most obvious benefit is that of a shared interest. Interests can do a lot to tie a relationship together, and that goes beyond simply agreeing that you like the same thing. Interests give you something to agree and disagree about passionately, give you a framework for your in-jokes, and give you a means of socializing as a couple outside the context of your own relationship, but still within a pertinent context of that interest. We would all be bored if we shared interests in precisely the same way, for example, but we also would not be compatible if we never shared any interests. Something along the lines of membership to a subculture helps provide the perfect balance of the two.

The means by which we select our partners is hardly some universally positive act, however, and there are a few things in particular that myself and others have mentioned as being worthy of keeping an eye out, particularly in online relationships. The anonymity of the internet does help us in some respects, but it can encourage unwanted attention in the form of stalking and additional privacy concerns. There is, of course a fine line to walk with how much information we provide and how much we hold back, and what we do provide can come back to bite us in the end in the form of unwanted attention.

Beyond unwanted attention, however, is the distance factor, which is a valid concern for many if us, again in the case of online relationships. The reason for the number of these relationships in particular, though, might have something to do with our selection criteria mentioned above. While our potential partner pool is limited by our interests, it\’s also further limited by location: if we choose to get into a relationship with another furry, then our local dating pool might be very limited indeed. An informal poll at time of writing showed about half of the participants in long-distance relationships, with the notable explanation that it\’s less of an issue with \”planes + internet + some planning\”. An online relationship might, at that point, seem much more feasible given that that sort of thing vastly expands the pool of potential partners for one.

Another way by in which our limited relationship pool shows is that the aforementioned skews that are evident in the fandom at large show themselves particularly in relationships. The most notable example, obviously, is gender. When I present the data panel at conventions, I often bring this up: we, as a subculture, represent a pretty even distribution of the spectrum from completely heterosexual to homosexual, but given the skew in gender and biological sex, many more individuals wind up in homosexual relationships. With a dating pool consisting of around 80% male furries, it\’s not really any surprise that relationships are also skewed toward those involving two male participants, even when those participants don\’t identify as completely homosexual. This obviously furthers the visibility of homosexuality within the fandom, to the point where that appears to be more of a skew than it might actually be. Other skews, such as age and species show up as well, of course, though sex, gender, and orientation are the most readily visible ones.

None of these are evidence of a furry-only style of dating, though taken as a whole, they do say something about our fandom. We date within our subculture, using it as a sort of attractor as many do, and we date online – no small amount of effort is spent on dating online, given the proliferation of social sites, social networks, chat rooms, MUCKs, and so on with a focus on sex and relationships – and the skews evident in our subculture show themselves in our relationships. However, that makes it no less interesting: this is who we are, this is how we interact, and this is how we love each other and relate to each other. If furry is a slice of society at large, that\’s all well and good, but we are also made up of our individual participants, and, in the end, it is between us where these relationships are formed.

Categories: News

Guest Post: Excuse me, I only talk to REAL dogs

Sat 24 Aug 2013 - 13:00

Guest post by Klisoura, a contributor on [adjective][species]. This article was originally posted on [a][s] on August 14, 2013

\”Welcome to the Internet. Where the men are men, the women are men, and —\”

Wait, what?

Hang out in the chatrooms that dot the furry landscape, and you\’ll find this sentiment expressed not infrequently. Boiled down, it encapsulates the belief that you can\’t trust what you see, which is simple enough — but I\’ll suggest that this line of thinking is both inaccurate and also slightly troublesome.

If you\’re not a roleplayer, this line of discussion is all somewhat irrelevant to you. But according to the 2012 Furry Survey, more than half of furries do engage in roleplaying to some degree, and at some time. This probably isn\’t surprising; roleplaying offers a safe space to explore our identities, and it probably goes without saying that furries would gravitate towards this exploration.

It seems to be self-evident that people are willing to accept interacting with people who present themselves as a different species than they really are, and in my experience it\’s generally accepted that one\’s online sexual orientation can legitimately differ from one\’s real-world orientation. So why is gender so problematic?

Well, first of all, what do I mean by \”problematic\”?

Quantitatively, we notice a strong aversion to changing one\’s sex online: 82% of people say that they do not do so, with a strong majority (58.5%) saying they would not do so. Even amongst active roleplayers, 74% hew strictly to the biological sex they were born with — that is, the remaining 18% (26% amongst roleplayers) also encapsulates the (admittedly small) number of transgendered persons who are electing to accurately represent their gender.

Qualitatively, we see statements like, \”I\’m not a fan of people who are [girls online but] guys in real life\” — the backronymic pejorative \”GIRL\” (Guy In Real Life) applies here — and it is here that we start to see one of the interesting dimensions of the issue, which is that it is expressly gendered and generally heteronormative: far fewer people seem as troubled by the idea that the male winged magic-using bipedal talking sapient fox-wolf mix they\’re talking to is actually being operated by a female puppeteer.

We understand, at least to some degree, that furry chatrooms are not accurate representations of reality, as my last description indicates. In my sojourns through the fandom I\’ve seen people who claimed to be Russian when they were really American, people who claimed to be lawyers, people who claimed to be thin, people who claimed to have master\’s degrees in esoteric subjects…

It\’s pretty much par for the course.

So why\’s it gender that sets people off? Why not other areas of body image? Why wouldn\’t you put in your profile, \”I only want to talk to people who are physically fit in real life\”? Possibly because it would seem shallow, and slightly irrelevant for the purposes of light conversation, nondirected roleplay, and typefucking?

Let\’s examine some possible answers.

The first is that it\’s an inherent dishonesty that is fair to judge people on. That is: if I can\’t trust that you\’re honest about such a fundamental aspect of your personality, then what can I trust you on? Is it supposed to not matter because we\’re talking as two avatars? If we\’re only interacting mask-on-mask, then what does anything really matter, anyway?

This seems like a logical statement, until you unpack it a bit. After all, someone\’s real-world physical attributes are only actually relevant if you enter every conversation expecting the possibility that your interaction on FurryMUCK could logically lead to a real-world romantic or sexual encounter. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is a weird, overbearing, and even slightly offputting mindset to start from.

We are, after all, expressly entering into an abstracted, idealized world when we engage with avatars. Even chatroom sexuality is transgressive: we gain the ability to interact free of many of the restrictions and repercussions imposed by the real world. Make the phrasing honest: \”I would like to pretend to be a dog, and for you to pretend to be a red panda-lynx hybrid, and I would like to put some of my pretend bipedal clothes-wearing ambient-music-appreciating dog parts inside your pretend red-panda lynx body but only if I\’d be cool doing that in real life, too.\”

As pickup lines go, it\’s a little awkward.

A more interesting objection, though it\’s not often phrased explicitly, is the one that boils it down to the unseemliness of straight men pretending to be women so that they can have straight sex, or to otherwise benefit from the attention they would otherwise lack.

So, then. Fetch me the numbers, Igor!

On the Furry Survey, I ask about presenting yourself in the fandom as a gender different from your biological sex. Five options are presented:

  • No, and I would not do so
  • No, but I might do so
  • Yes, sometimes
  • Yes, often
  • My primary furry avatar fits this description

As said, 58.5% of respondents gave the first answer — that is, that they \”would not\” do so. When we limit the response to only straight men, that number jumps to 71.6%. A further 21.4% of straight men say they don\’t, but they might consider it. Straight men are a third as likely to say they do it \”often\” (<1% compared to 3% in the general population), and around a quarter as likely to say their primary avatar differs from their own biological sex (1.5% compared to 5.6% in the general population).

It is here that we pause to note a couple more things about the prevalence of gender fluidity. Firstly, in a proportional sense it\’s substantially more common amongst women; women are 2.5 times as likely to have a male primary avatar than men are to have a female one, and 2.7 times as likely to say they \”often\” represent themselves as a different gender. Only 37.2% of women say they \”would not\” use a male avatar; 64.3% of men say they \”would not\” use a female one.

Secondly, it would seem that since straight people are substantially less likely to do, then the slack is made up by those in other portions of the sexuality spectrum. It was suggested that partly this might be because changing genders allows you to explore your own notional homo- or bi-sexuality in interesting — and safe — new ways.

But this is an interesting concept, and we\’re going to come back to it in a bit.

If we compare those who say they would not and those who say they always present themselves as a different gender, it\’s true that there are certain evident differences. For one, as stated, people who always do so are less likely to be straight (22% vs 43%), and far more likely to be pansexual (24% vs 4%). They\’re also three times as likely to be asexual, though — 11.3% vs 3.7%. In real number terms, they make up 5.6% of the fandom, but 22% of the fandom\’s asexual people and more than a third of the pansexual members.

Outside of sexual orientation terms, they are also, as stated, more likely to be female. They are older, though by less than a year, and have a higher degree of education. They are 19% less likely to be single and 45% more likely to be in a long-term relationship.

Their positions on an attitudinal survey tend to be more extreme. People with gender-transgressive primary identities are 46% more likely to strongly disagree that what other people think of them is important (14.2% to 9.7%). They are 50% more likely to strongly disagree with the statement \”creativity is one of my strongest attributes\” (43.4% to 28.4%). They are 88% more likely to \”strongly agree\” that they are more talented than most of their peers (10.9% to 5.8%) — but also 55% more likely to \”strongly disagree\” with that statement (18% to 11.6%).

They are not appreciably likely to say that sex is more important to their furry identity (average score on 10-point scale is 4.6 vs 4.3), which circles us back to an earlier point. It may seem like I am, to a degree, harping on this, but I think it\’s important to note that, from the evidence, people who change their gender online aren\’t doing so for sexual reasons.

So what does it tell us if we think they are?

What first drew me to this topic was how closely the discussion recalls classic and unfortunate interactions transgendered individuals are familiar with. As I said to start with, because the question discusses presenting an avatar different from your biological sex, a small number of those people are transgendered persons — but most of them are not, and I am certainly not going to suggest that gender dysphoria is the primary motivation.

But, in furry chatrooms and roleplaying environments, you see the same classic scripts playing out. You see the same troubling, parochial belief in \”traps\” — people who are disingenuously trying to mislead straight men into a life of… well, certainly a life of something, anyway, and evidently something more problematic than simply pretending to be a tiger. You see the same stigma attached to gender transgressiveness, particularly in the notion that people make the choices they do because they would be relationship-unsuccessful otherwise (a statement that is demonstrably incorrect).

You even see hints of \”trans panic,\” with people discovering \”the truth\” about their conversational partners attacking them, belittling them, and engaging in other behaviors that are designed to reinforce a gender-normative worldview. I ran a roleplaying chatroom for nine years, and I cannot count the number of times, as a moderator, I had someone breathlessly \”out\” someone to me.

\”Oh, bloody hell,\” you are sighing into your scotch. You wave the waiter over to bring you your check, shaking your head and muttering: \”Here they go on about transphobia again.\”

Well.

Yeah.

I\’m willing to call this out because, as I said, it seems to be equally parts silly and troubling. I have yet to see a clear articulation of why it should be acceptable to change your species but not your sex that doesn\’t boil down to balky circumlocutions around the fundamental issue that people still see gender as immutable and transgenderism as the slightly skeevy hallmark of second-class persons.

That is to say, I don\’t see a clear articulation that doesn\’t either hem and haw around that issue or reveal a hell of a lot more about the speaker than you\’d initially suspect. As I said, your conversational partner\’s real-world gender is dubiously crucial if you enter into conversations expecting the possibility that you intend to engage with them in real-life sexual contexts, but that\’s a can of worms all on its own.

As the New Yorker\’s Peter Steiner once famously quipped: \”on the Internet, nobody knows you\’re a dog.\” Anonymous communication involves striking a careful balance between respecting the freedom that comes from constructed identity, and being aware of the assumptions we make in our interactions with others.

It\’s clearly something that we\’re uncomfortable with: anonymity invites its own destruction, and the Internet takes a singular pride in denying of others the right to be anonymous, or to choose on their own terms what they present. And when gender roles come into play, we run headlong into traditional discomfort with people who don\’t play by the rules. Hence the invention of new stereotypes, irrespective of whether they are actually accurate — and I have no doubt that some of you who have gotten this far are thinking: yeah, but I know people like that.

Perhaps.

But these seem to be edge cases, and the thing that strikes me about the dim eye turned on those with gender-transgressive identities is that casual chauvinism is still chauvinism, and bears reflection. The fandom has an established and positive legacy of being supportive of all types of self-exploration. How peculiar — and slightly sad — it would be if this is one of the last to enjoy the legitimacy of existing unexamined and uncriticized.

Because in all probability, insisting you will only talk to real dogs is a losing game, of dubious reward.

Categories: News

Let’s Talk About Sex

Sat 17 Aug 2013 - 13:00

I spend a lot of time burying myself in the fandom, reveling in the connections we build and giving back in the best ways I can manage.  I’m not a good artist (just trust me on this – it’s best for everyone if I don’t draw), and my music career stalled after I graduated college: I’ve not yet found the means to jump-start it.  When it comes to fiction, I’m afraid I have more ideas than I have motivation.  It’s not a good combo, really, as I wind up with (quite literally) notebooks full of ideas with all of two stories to show for it.  I have a doofy time-travel story that somehow managed to involve choir music, sigh, and a short piece of erotic fiction that involves two foxes and some milkshakes.

I’m not an excellent writer.  My prose is loose, and the fact that keeping it that way is the only way I can manage to get anything done does not speak well for improvement down the road.  I can pull a mean metonymy, I’m average at alliteration, and if I squint for a while, I’m sure  I can squeeze out a metaphor, but I have no formal training in writing beyond the minimum required to graduate high school, and whatever it took to get my music degree.

What I do have going for me, however, is words.  I’ve got a lot of words.

So: lets sit down and have a little chat about sex.  Or – wait, cancel that.  Let’s have a grand discussion about it

In my delving within the fandom, I have wound up involved in a few projects, and one of those is the delightful, rather fuzzy book club Bookmarfs!.  The club is a very open affair, though we’ve got regular participants in the form of myself, my partner Forneus, a most excellent fox, Peri, TabbieWolf, and the inimitable Lunostophiles.  When we somehow managed to boil this month’s book down from a choice of <book about sex>, <book about heterosexuality>, and <essays on patriotism>, to <book about sex>, I was a little surprised, though hardly displeased.  All three were quite good, and while I do hope we get to Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality and The Partly Cloudy Patriot sometime in the future, Mary Roach’s Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex has been a very interesting read, and there’s one passage in particular that I’d like to share:

The media’s ubiquitous coverage of sex and sex research – as well as the genesis and population explosion of TV, radio, and newspaper sex advisors – have chipped away at the taboos that kept couples from talking openly with each other about the sex they were having.  Bit by bit, sex research has unraveled the hows, whys, why-nots, and how-betters of arousal and orgasm.  The more the researchers and the sexperts and the reporters talked about sex, the easier it became for everyone else to.  As communication eases and knowledge grows, inhibitions dissolve and confidence takes root.

I think a lot about the ways in which we, as a culture, move forward.  JM and I have both written about it over on [adjective][species]; about the ways in which both conformity and transgression, each in their place, help to advance both individuals and society.  I think that the two writing platforms of [adjective][species] and LSF embody this nicely, when we get down to it.  Sure, there’s some mixing – there’s quite a bit of transgression on [a][s], and there’s bound to be a fair bit of conformity here on LSF!  Still, though, our whole point is to move things forward, whether it’s through reinforcing the ideas that tacitly pervade the fandom, or by challenging the very ideas that many hold dear.

The previous quote from Bonk comes from a section about the ways in which Masters and Johnson changed viewpoints with their publication of Homosexuality in Perspective in 1979. The book is admittedly not without its problems – the second half of the book apparently could be read as a tract on curing homosexuality, though I’ve not read it for myself.  The first half of the book, though, was spent dissecting the differences in sexual interaction between homosexual and heterosexual couples, whether they’d been together for years or simply assigned to be together that night by the researchers.  Between homosexual couples, Masters and Johnson noted, there was much more attention to one’s partner and much less attention to, to paraphrase Mary Roach, the author of Bonk, goals.  Rather than focusing on the goal of orgasm, the sexual act shifted on the act of providing pleasure.

As Roach admits in the quote, much has changed in the nearly 35 years since the publication of Homosexuality in Perspective.  Never mind problems in the HiP study, nor even social attitudes towards sexual orientation, the discussion around sex itself, as the author insists, has shifted.  We are becoming more open about sexuality (the reasons for which include, not least of which, commercial opportunity), and by virtue of becoming more open in general, we are becoming more open specifically within our relationships.  The taboos that dog us through the ages don’t stand in the way quite as often as they used to, and are easily knocked down by more knowledge, more discussion, and being more open.

They’re not gone completely, however, and that’s why, to paraphrase Vi Hart, so long as we construct barriers for ourselves, we always find ways to deconstruct them as well; and we will always construct those barriers.

To that end, I’d like to announce the first of (hopefully) several guides published and distributed freely within the furry fandom: The Love ◦ Sex ◦ Fur Guide to Safer Sex.

JM and I have been discussing such a thing in various guises for quite a while now, and I’ve spent the last month or so laying the groundwork for such a project.  The idea is simple: to provide a short, accurate guide or guides for distribution within our subculture to accomplish the simple goal of disseminating more information.  This is the heart of Mary Roach’s point in the quote above, it’s the fact that underpins the very existence of the [adjective][species] projects, and it’s the one thing mentioned over and over again whenever an idea such as this is mentioned.

Furry is nothing if not participatory, however, and so here’s the twist: all of the guides are open sourced.  Not will be, but already are, have been from day one.  “Open Source” has almost certainly permeated most aspects of our culture by now, but it’s still worth clarifying.  Anyone with the will to do so is free to make changes to the guides.  They are not, of course, open to vandalism – changes must be approved before they are merged in with the master copy – but they are open to everyone to not only suggest, but to be proactive and make corrections, to add information, and to extend the base of knowledge. We’ll get to the how in a bit.  First, though, let’s get into some goals and planning.

Rather than spend time listing what this is not, let me just explain a little bit of where I’m coming from on this.  I’m not a very sexually active person, despite my part in a site such as this.  Even between my partners and I, acts that even I would consider sex are decidedly rare, to the point where I would be comfortable with the label “gray-aseuxal” at the moment, in that sex sort of falls into this weird gray area.  Labels and identity are always in flux, of course, but I mention this primarily as a preface to the fact that despite that, we make it a point to talk about sex a lot.  A lot. If we could be said to have a favorite thing to talk about, it’s probably sex.  It’s in these discussions that we’ve come across the most internal strife in values instilled by parents, society, and even some parts of the furry fandom.  Sex, like many topics shrouded in taboo, also carries a lot of negative weight for people, and my primary interest is that of sex positivity.

Sex positivity is one of those topics almost certainly in need of its own article (or several), but in short, the idea is that sex and the discussion around it should never be a negative experience.  That was my tweet-length description, but we asked on Twitter a while back, and got several additional replies: “That each person has the right to express sexuality to their own degree without being made to feel bad about it”, and “it means accepting that a complex area of human interaction exists and is full of nuance that requires careful consideration”, and “sex positive means treating sex in a mutually joyous, consensual, fun, and funny manner.  It’s an expression of love, but not the only one by far, nor is it the only physical one” were just a few of the examples.

The primary goals of the first guide are:

  • Accurate and up to date information on safer sex, and
  • A safe and positive outlook on sex and sexuality.

Beyond that, we aim to make it as inclusive as possible, as well as pertinent within the fandom.  It should be interesting, fun, and worthy of discussion, just like the act itself.  And so with that, have at it!  Read, share, and contribute!  It’s all available here.

How it works

The guides are hosted, all together, in one git repository on GitHub.  A git repository is simply a folder of files that a program, called git, knows about.  Git is a distributed revision control system: it knows how to track changes made over time (the revision control system part), and it lets anyone work with the entire project at once or even host copies of it (the distributed part).  GitHub is a website that hosts these repositories in such a way that anyone can contribute to them.  This means that you can grab a copy of the entire set of guides (a process called forking), make the changes you want, save those changes back up to GitHub (a process called pushing), and then ask us at LSF to consider merging your changes in (a process called a pull request).  This is, by necessity, a very brief overview, but GitHub not only has some excellent documentation on the process at the top of their help page, but also a client for Windows that helps make the process much, much simpler.  If you need any additional help with git, please feel free to ask!  You can contact me directly at makyo@adjectivespecies.com.

Once you have made a change and created a pull-request on GitHub, try to get some input on the changes you’d like to make!  I’ll do my best to review every request that comes my way, but we’d like to have two positive reviews for each pull request to be merged, unless it’s something trivial such as fixing spelling or markup.  At that point, the branch will be merged into the master branch, and changes will go live soon thereafter on the site.  Additionally, once we get print versions of the guides, those changes will be merged and made available wherever the print versions will be distributed.  There’s more information on the whole process on the repo page on GitHub.

If you don’t wish to contribute directly – whether you don’t wish to have a safer-sex guide in your list of contributions on GitHub, or you simply don’t want to bother with git – that’s also fine!  If you have a change you’d like to make, you can simply tell us about it (or send us a diff) by emailing the address above.  I’ll work to create a branch to represent your work under my own account, and then offer it up for review, anonymously if you so choose.  If you don’t want to go as far as actually modifying the guide itself, you can also open an issue, which someone else can then resolve.  The goal is to make it as easy as possible to manage contributions, and we don’t want to leave anyone out!  Additionally, you can always help review upcoming changes (here is an example of a proposing changes), which will be announced here and over Twitter.  You can do that through email, as well.  Our primary needs for those are:

  • Making sure the information is accurate (we use the CDC as our benchmark),
  • Making sure the information is relevant (the guide should be clear and concise, and hopefully at least a little furry), and
  • Making sure the information is presented well (is it furry, does it look good, etc).

There are other ways in which you can contribute, as well – not only will we be having more guides coming up soon (the next planned is on relationships, along with the [a][s] guides for fursuiting and convention attendance), but we’ll also need a few pieces of art for each!  Finally, you can always help by spreading the word and getting these guides out there.  After all (say it with me)…

More information is better!

автоматы бесплатно скачать лягушки

Categories: News

Online Relationships

Sat 27 Jul 2013 - 13:00

A version of this article originally appeared on [adjective][species] in December, 2011. It has been updated and edited to better fit LSF.

I spent a night a while back cooking dinner for my fiancé (now husband), who was sick with the flu and a sinus infection. Though I was either cooking or working, we had a few moments of banality together, talking about work or taking NyQuil for the night. Eventually, I sent him to bed before he could start another TV show; I was feeling jealous that I was working so much and he had taken the day off. We said our goodnights and our I-love-yous, and he left to go lay down. As he did so, I was immediately struck by how weird the whole evening was to me, then fascinated that such would be the case. The whole night was totally mundane, as are so many others, but it took place in person: something relatively unique to me and seemingly uncommon in the circles in which I hang out in the fandom. Even all of my relationships that weren\’t strictly based online still had some interaction in that arena, and I think there are a few good reasons for this.

Furry is really important to me. Like, really, really important. I\’ve thoroughly entrenched myself in the fandom, have lived it for more than a decade, and relish every moment of my interactions with it. That\’s the whole reason I started these projects, really: the act of writing helps me understand what this is and why it\’s important to me, and the act of sharing what I write is one way that I feel I can give back to the community that has meant so much to me. I\’ve written about a lot, lately, and I feel that my topics have been fairly diverse, but not without their common threads. Of course, there\’s the difference between how we feel and how we act, and the importance of a character separate from our selves, but what I think is the most important attribute of our fandom is the way we interact and the relationships we form with each other in the context of furry. There is a reason that the most-used tag on [a][s] is the \”social interaction\” tag. Second to that is, of course, \”Internet\”, and the obvious combination of the two leads us to online relationships – that is, dating – which play an outsized role in our community.

I am no stranger to online relationships. Far from it, in fact: I think I can say that my online relationships outnumber my in-person relationships two or even three to one. One of the big draws to having a relationship online in a culture that is based in large part on the Internet is that you gain the advantage of the selection bias: by interacting in a primarily furry setting, you have at your disposal for potential partners primarily furries. A good part of a relationship lies in having a good deal in common with your partner, and that is handily built into the fandom. You likely have a group of people with similar levels of technological aptitude, a ready-made shared interest in anthropomorphics, and you don’t have to explain your activities to your partner. That you share this ahead of time makes a good case for dating within the fandom. It\’s simply easier, perhaps healthier to be in a relationship with another furry.

I went through a relationship with a non-furry a few years ago, and while I cared for my partner deeply, there was always this thing we could never quite share. It\’s not that we didn\’t have other things in common, nor that we didn\’t talk about furry. It was that there was this bond that I shared with other people that I could just never share with her, not without her becoming a part of the fandom, which is something I could never force her to do and she did not seem interested in doing on her own. I still care for her and do miss some aspects of going out with a non-fur: particularly, I miss the fact that it often caused me to step back and take a look at the things that I was doing or saying or thinking as part of this subculture from and outside perspective. While I\’ve always considered myself a fairly introspective person, I can honestly say that this was probably the first time that I had started to really look into what furry meant to me, particularly because either it or my relationship was on the line. The relationship didn\’t last and was probably never meant to, with this and other differences keeping us apart.

Another thing that that relationship lacked was not only the interaction between the two parties on a personal level, but interaction on a character level. Even though JD and I rarely talk online (he’s a terrible speller – sorry hon!), we still have this multi-layered relationship that may be essential for a couple within the fandom. For furries, you have to interact well as a couple not only on a personal level, but as characters and vice versa, and this is one of the reasons several of my other relationships did not work out quite as well as either party had hoped. Although things may have been spectacular or mind blowing online, you’re just not really an eFox or iWolf in person (well…probably). Species aside, our characters are very much front-stage constructs, in the Erving Goffman sense. We build up these characters to emphasize or even take on attributes that may be lacking in us, and that\’s what helps to make them a separate entity from our true self. It\’s amazing to think back on all of the wonderful times I have had over the years in the relationships I\’ve been a part of and realize that, when thought of that way, it\’s like watching two people completely separate from ourselves fall in love: my iFox to your eWhatever, and you and I are only the narrators, or perhaps the readers of a story.

More than just these separate aspects of our personas, however, are the barriers inherent in online interaction, particularly in a furry setting. The best, and also quite possibly the worst thing about online interaction is that, being primarily text based, you have the ability to construct your avatar moreso than usual. You have the ability to reread what you\’re about to say, and the ability to build a reply that is carefully designed with the other party in mind. It comes as a shock interacting with someone in real life after having only had the ability to interact with them online for so long. This is, of course, especially true when there are additional levels of fantasy involved in your interactions, one of the most salient (non-species) examples being gender play: not only are you constructing your front-stage avatar with this additional type of foresight, but you are changing a very basic fact about yourself in the process. Gender roles are complicated things that have their tie-ins even with role-play online as animal people, and when those roles are inverted or otherwise changed between the two settings of online and off, the interaction between the parties of the relationship is put at risk. Even so, it\’s important to have that interaction between both character and self within the relationship in both contexts. James is still my dog, and I\’m still his…whatever species I am that day, even though we\’re both grown man-shapes working our day jobs and taking care of each other when we get sick.

All of this relies on technology, though. It relies on the fact that we, as a group, tend to be some fairly tech-savvy people. We are some pretty tech-literate folk, and that just adds to our relationships with each other. It takes a certain type of willingness to embed a portion of our lives in this thin layer of technology that hovers over, beneath, and through everything else, and a certain type of person to find the thought of that enjoyable as compared to perhaps going out to a bar in an attempt to pick up a date.

This is not to say that we\’re all nerds or anything. In fact, I\’m pretty sure that much of the stigma that affects \”nerds\” outside the fandom translates to within it as well. Rather, we are a group of people that has embraced the technology around us and made it part of our lives, even if we don\’t necessarily know, or even care how it works. We may not always be cutting edge, but we are contemporary with our generations, and maybe even a little ahead of the game, in general, and that may just serve as the basis for much of the social interaction within our subculture, and the relationships within that, taking at least second-seat to our interest in anthropomorphising animals.

I should emphasize that I am hardly against online relationships in any way, given my history and current situation. In the long run, I feel that I am who I am today in large part because of them. The way I work has shifted with my circumstances, and though I don\’t really take part in all that I used to, that\’s still a big part of who I am. I\’m one of those \”all experiences are beneficial\” foxes. I think that any chance we, as furries, get to share in the closeness of our bonds to each other and our characters\’ relationships is worth taking, for sure. Online relationships have become almost an integral part of our fandom and it would be strange to see the culture without them in the fore. Love itself is too big a topic for a lay-fox like myself to even begin to comprehend; I\’m simply glad that I had and have the chance to experience so much of it with such an awesome crowd, both on the \’net and off.

Categories: News

The Importance of Role-Play – Part 2

Sat 6 Jul 2013 - 13:00

Previously on Love ◦ Sex ◦ Fur…

Okay, so we\’re hardly a television series here. Last time I wrote, though, I spent nearly two thousand words on just how interesting I think sexual role-play is. Once I started nearing the end of the article, though, I noticed that I really sort of forgot to include more than a few token references to just how role-playing fits in with relationships. Sometimes, my writing suffers from the fact that I get so easily focused on a smaller aspect of a larger issue, and it\’s hard to step back far enough to see things from a broader point of view without losing the train of thought. Also, given that I finished the article literally fifteen minutes before it was supposed to go live due to a ridiculous power outage, I figured it\’d probably be best to leave things as they were and instead dub that article Part 1 and save Part 2, this article, for an exploration of how TinySex and role-play in general fit into relationships, both romantic and otherwise.

No small amount of ink (or key-presses, for that matter) has been spilled on the topic of how we, as furries, create these avatars for ourselves and use them to interact with each other, often in the most banal of ways. We role-play being advertising agents, get pictures of ourselves running late to work, or write stories about football players in love. Sure, we have our spaceships and magic, but speculative fiction of that sort is hardly solely the realm of furries. We also have our slice of life stories and bildungsromans. We role-play full lives as our characters, not just the heroic segments.

Last week, the topic I focused on was primarily that of one of the more banal, yet no less important, aspects of life: sex. I talked about sex primarily in terms of the act itself. I think that the last article suffered particularly from a lack of talk about the relational aspects of sex, as I spent most of my time thinking and writing about psychological aspects such as transgression or mechanical aspects such as orgasm. They\’re important, sure, but sex is a social act, given that it hardly takes place all by one\’s lonesome. I think it\’s well worth taking that step back and looking at the social aspects as well.

There are, I\’ve found some relationships in which role-play Just Works™. That is, even though there are relationships that I\’ve had, friendship or more, in which I\’ve given the occasionally hug or nuzz, there wasn\’t any room, need, or desire for much beyond that. However, there were many that were just the opposite. There were relationships that focused almost entirely on role play, and for a variety of reasons. Both types (and everything in between), I feel, are valid. A relationship that consisted entirely of me being a fox person and the other being a different animal person, interacting primarily in those roles, was still a close-knit relationship, one that I felt comfortable calling such even in the romantic sense. Looking into why that\’s the case is what got me thinking about this in the first place.

Restating that thesis, I don\’t think it\’s out of place for me to say that there are relationships that do more than include this context of role-play: they flourish on it. For various reasons, even if the acts involved in the RP within the relationship were possible offline (and we\’ve talked about a few that aren\’t), the relationship just wouldn\’t necessarily work the same, if at all, outside of this context.

The opposite is also true. There are people with whom I am good friends, but we only ever just talk online, though we might be close physically or even romantically offline. That\’s hardly extraordinary, of course: I talk with all of my coworkers online primarily about work, and have at most every job, though we may chat and go drinking outside of that online context. It\’s as though there\’s a divide between where role-play will and won\’t work for us that we pick up on and take into account when interacting, no matter how close we are emotionally.

One aspect that I think is worth reemphasizing is that, although the emotional connection in these role-play heavy relationships may be different, it\’s not invalid and hardly existent in these role-play. The interactions that I have and have had with others online (as mentioned previously, and worth a caveat again, I\’m not as into this sort of thing as I used to be) were often deep, personal connections to another individual or group of individuals. The countless hours I spent talking to and fooling around with others hardly count as nothing, the others hardly faceless automata reacting solely to what I type.

A lot of that has to do with the idea of spaces, or contexts. Sex online is still sex, but it takes place in a separate context, a separate space from sex in person. As a good example of that, it\’s been my experience that sex in person usually occupies most or all of one\’s attention, whereas that\’s hardly the case with role-play online. In fact, beyond just potentially having more than one thing going on, one might have more than one scene going on in order to still have most of what one\’s up to fall into the category of sex. This is something that fits within the pornographic aspect of the act: rather than being solely a participant, you are also watching or reading something, and as with pornography, that needn\’t take up 100% of one\’s attention.

The social aspects of sexuality can be seen as a collection of innumerable moving parts. We are our own expert systems, in that regard, with certain tolerances that must be taken into account in order for things to mesh in any given context. Taken this way, having multiple contexts – especially when one of those contexts is notably free and lax on rules – may be of use to some. Much of the previous article was about utilizing such a context in a way that proves beneficial to a great many people on an individual basis, but also it works just as well in a relationship setting.

One example where folks benefit is in differing levels of sexual activity. This stems mostly from the disconnect between sexual acts in RP and sexual acts offline. One side of this is that there isn\’t necessarily a need for one to be sexually active in real life for one to be sexually active in character. Whether it\’s having a low sex drive, or just the inability to currently take part in sexual acts in person (dorms, work, and so on being common reasons), doesn\’t necessarily preclude one from taking part in intimacy with someone else. The inverse is also true, of course: one can still be sexually active in person despite being in a relationship with someone online, where RP may be common. Not everyone lines up sexually all the time, after all.

Another important example relates to sexual promiscuity, and the way it is perceived in a role-play context as compared to something more grounded in real life. While monogamy and polygamy are complex social topics most definitely worthy of being explored more deeply on their own, it\’s interesting to note a surprising number of relationships that are more open in an online context than they are in person.

Part of this, I think, is due to the relative safety of TS: the lack of physical contact and the role that consent plays do help to keep everyone safe. Even when one is not currently in a romantic relationship, however, there is little in the way of physical harm that might come from being promiscuous in role-play, and sexual satiation does help keep people healthy mentally, even if one does wind up having to tone down promiscuity when one does wind up in a relationship.

Beyond that, however, the idea of contexts once again comes into play. What it means to have sex in the context of typing out strings of sentences with erotic content at one another can very obviously mean something different from consensual physical sex. That said, one isn\’t simply alternating roles of narrator in telling some erotic story. One\’s characters are extensions of oneself, and so the waters are muddied. Some take this to be equivalent to sexual activity offline, while others separate the ideas totally, and there are those who treat it every way in between.

To round out my hendiatris of examples, a final one is the ways in which basal aspects such as gender and orientation come into play. This is something that I\’m not sure is as widespread, but it has figured large in my own experiences, and I find it worth investigating. Both gender identity and sexual orientation can be much more complex and intricate than society often gives them credit. Experience through experimentation help flesh out one\’s sense of identity and self within a social setting, as they interact quite closely. Gender-play and a safe-space to experiment outside of more simplistic definitions of orientation. JM wrote on [a][s] about this previously, noting the number of members of our subculture who re-evaluate their sexual orientation, and I think this is one potential aspect of it (after all, I came into the fandom as a gay male and who even knows what I am now).

A lot of these seem to boil down to relative levels of \”okayness\”. Being okay with oneself, being okay within a given context, and being okay both physically as well as emotionally and intellectually. The crux of the matter, after all, is that the physical is deemphasized while the mental and emotional are emphasized in role-play such as this. This is part of what goes into a safe space, and that\’s what\’s often required for maturation: a place in which one is both challenged without reduced possibility for harm, and an easy way out. It\’s a place to define the boundaries of okayness when it comes to things such as relative sexual activity, promiscuity, or countless other aspects of self.

There has been a lot of discussion over the last year about sex-positivity in furry. How sex and the fandom interact is more than just how sexual furries are in general, but how discussion around sex is framed between furries and themselves, and furries and the world at large. After all, this is a big part of why LSF was started in the first place. However, it\’s my belief that beyond being one of the more interesting aspects of that intersection, role-play is also one of the more sex-positive ones: interests are discussed and expanded on, websites such as f-list are created, and tools such as wixxx are used. There\’s discourse around the topic, and it\’s not just that it\’s relatively positive, it\’s also expected. A culture has built up within and around this RP context. It\’s no longer just singular acts.

Categories: News

The Importance of Role-Play – Part 1

Sat 29 Jun 2013 - 13:00

Sexual maturation is a process that, I would argue, lasts easily ten years, if not more. Sure, the body may be just about done with the surge of hormones after a few short years, and you probably stop growing (and start shrinking) at around eighteen to twenty years old, but the process of maturation is far more than physical. Even if it were to take an additional year to digest each year of puberty\’s changes, a generous estimate, that still only gets you to about twenty. In my case, I would say that it took another five years to fully grow into myself as a sexual person; that is, as someone who was not only capable of having sex, but someone who was capable of sexual interaction, in all the ways that implies, with others around me.

Honestly, I matured as a sexual being primarily online, and it was through text and within the context of furry that I experienced many of my most formative sexual experiences. Role-play, TinySex, cybering, type-fucking, co-authoring erotica – whatever you want to call it, the sharing of sexual acts and ideas across distances and through text does play quite a role within the furry fandom. And, for better or for worse, I think I\’m hardly alone in the style of my coming-of-age.

I rather like the term \”coauthoring erotica\”, myself. It really does come down to a process of playing out a fictional sex scene, except that rather than being between two characters with only the agency of one author behind them, each character has their own player with that player\’s own agency driving their actions. However, given the personal nature of many people\’s characters, it\’s really more autobiographical than this makes it sound. It comes down to a sort of subjunctive autobiography: a way of describing what we would do in such a situation.

Role-play of this sort is a stellar example of the interaction between fantasy and real life, as one\’s actions in a primarily fantastical space can be tied to the way one feels and acts outside of that space. One notable example surrounds orgasm in sexual role-play, and the idea that if one is planning on orgasm in real life as well as online, they ought to happen at around the same time, thus \”lining up\” the sensation for both the player and the description of what\’s happening with the character. I\’ll be careful to note that this usually is discussed in the negative: due to the refractory period, many find it difficult to so actively consider sex as to continue, thus an awkward idle-out or perhaps excuses leading to ending the session early being seen as an indicator of getting off too soon.

This also plays into the interaction that is going on between the two players, who may strive to reach climax at the same time, consciously or not. This is aluxury of the medium, of course. The shared moment of climax is seen as an ideal. It isn\’t always as common in physical sexual encounters as it is online, but more on that later.

So how exactly does all of this work? There are obviously countless different styles of RP, and there is hardly one common anatomy to a session. However, there are several common tropes that show up in sexual scenes.

  • The Romantic: of course, sex and romantic love are often entangled, and this is hardly challenged by the fact that the sexual act happens to be taking place in a (semi-)fictional setting on the Internet. This is of notable importance for couples separated by long distances. It\’s one way to experience the shared pleasure of sex even when the physical aspect of that is not possible.
  • Not everything is so tied to two individuals in a romantic relationship, however. The Mysterious Stranger is a trope surrounding one-off encounters between people who don\’t necessarily know each other, similar to a one-night stand, but often with rather less flirting or drinking than might be involved in one of those offline. The common factor here is that the two individuals may not know much about each other than their interests, and the thus the flirting phase may be abbreviated (or even absent).
  • Between these two extremes lies the Just Between Friends trope, which involves a relationship between two or more people who, while they may not necessarily be in a romantic relationship, still participate in sexual role-play with each other. Sex is often part of friendships, but when the sex is light on consequences and heavy on a sense of fun, it\’s particularly easy to work into many more relationships than one might ordinarily, but again, more on that later.
  • The Sex Scene is just what it says on the tin. With role-play that lasts longer than a single session, such as those that involve last over the period of weeks involving several characters and participated in by several players, a sex scene can happen and still fit within the overall arc of the plot being enacted. This can be as vaguely defined as a sort of guild or school that generally does things together (again on Tapestries, the St. Mary\’s School for Wayward Furs is a good example) or as tightly controlled as playing out a plot defined in advance.

Again, these are hardly universal, though they may show up often enough to be seen as common tropes. There are many different variations, including even well-defined events centering around sexual RP such as Kitseve, a fertility festival held on the Tapestries MUCK once a year.

There are a few other commonalities that I\’ve noticed in a lot of sexual role-play that are worth mentioning. For one, most every scene leads to climax, often for both (or all) parties, which is often less-common offline than it is online. This may be due in part to the sharper distinction between what is sexual and what isn\’t in a text-base role-playing situation than in person. Additionally, penetration of some sort seems to be more common online, as well, perhaps due to the relative ease of typing about the process as compared to the physical process itself, and perhaps due to it being \”more interesting\” compared to other forms of sexual interaction.

TinySex, sexual role-playing, has played a formative role for me in my own sexual maturation, leaving behind a sort of coming-of-age story of my own sexual maturation (a Bildongsroman, if you will) in the form of logs and memories. I don\’t think I\’m alone, either, in finding sexual satisfaction in the form of writing about it with at least one other person. For many furries, even for many who just grew up with the Internet as their companion as furries are hardly alone in this act, sexuality burgeons easily online for many reasons.

One of these is transgression. It\’s interesting to note the ways in which we act that align with what we think of as popular culture, and the ways in which we transgress against that. Kink is, in a lot of ways, one of the bigger and more structured ways to do so. It goes beyond just performing sexual acts online, which is perhaps transgressive in its own way (though less so now than it used to be – the decline in use of the word \’cyber\’ is something of an indicator here). With role-play, consequences are greatly reduced from similar acts taking place offline, and so it acts as a facilitator in a way, allowing greater and wider exploration into interests and kinks that one might not have the chance to do otherwise. Further still, there are things one can do in TS that are simply out of the realm of possibility in real life, relying heavily on the framework that furry provides to guide these plot lines. From something as common-place as canine knots to acts such as vore, furry helps give these both context (canines have knots, predators eat prey), and structure (we are canines, we are predators or prey).

Another important reason is the concept of consent. I believe that defining consent on a situational basis is one of the biggest parts of leading a sex-positive life. With role-play, though, consent relies heavily on participation. Power dynamics are softened by the fact that not consenting does not necessarily put one in danger; not consenting can simply mean not participating. This isn\’t to say that there are no power dynamics, that there aren\’t any abusive relationships due to this reliance on participation as consent. Rather that there is an easy way out of a situation one doesn\’t want to be in: logging off. One avenue that this helps open up is a safe way of exploring consent and agency through fetishization of the same. Both can be played with safely as part of the plot of the scene.

Of course, it\’s also still personal interaction on a level that is deeply important for many. There\’s a lot to be said for shared experience, and thus a lot to be said for the comfort in shared fantasy. Writing a story and expressing one\’s fantasy in words does cover quite a bit of ground, but it lacks that interaction, and this co-authorship helps to provide that. The solo act of writing doesn\’t always satisfy that need.

I know I\’ve been waxing rhapsodic about just how neat and awesome typesex is, and I really do enjoy it (or did, at least, it\’s been a few years since I\’ve been really into it), but I can\’t posit an idea as something worth studying and only look at the good sides. It\’s not that there\’s some sort of huge, sinister aspect to RP, of course, but it\’s worth considering that the being able to work with fantasy in such a way is a means to having ideal sexual encounters.

The fact of the matter is that sexuality in real life rarely, if ever, includes such scripted perfection. We can\’t pause and decide what would be the ideal – hottest, most well written, best for furthering the plot – next step offline nearly so easily as we can online. There\’s a lot to be gained from realism in terms of getting off, what hurts, and all that goes into a sexual encounter. There is certainly a place for sex within a relationship, and it\’s worth the potential pain of real live physical contact to understand one\’s partner. The unrealistic understanding of consent in TS is strange, of course. It doesn\’t apply one hundred percent outside of that context. Still, it\’s hardly a bad thing to play around online. An outlet is an outlet, and we all need those.

Role-play is most certainly not a furry-only thing, of course. Intentional role-play has been a part of life for most of human existence, I\’m sure, and sexuality is a logical extension of that. Even online, it\’s very much not restricted to furries alone: after all, the word cybersex wouldn\’t have been this big, scary thing for my parents to warn me about back in the late nineties without there being some type-fucking going on at the time. However, we already have the benefit of interacting through our intentionally constructed avatars in the context of furry. Adding sexuality in as an aspect only serves to further that for a great many people.

Categories: News

Fantasy and Frameworks

Sat 22 Jun 2013 - 13:00

Fantasy, notably sexual fantasy, plays a vital role for us as we grow into sexual people. There’s a lot to be said about Just how formative fantasies can be, as well. Even though one’s first sexual experience no doubt plays a large role in one’s life, the fantasies that lead up to that and the way they change afterward (and are refined throughout life, of course) figure prominently in making us who we are.

However, fantasies do not occur in a vacuum. After all, they certainly wouldn’t change all that much after a sexual encounter of any importance; the first being a notable example, but any particularly delightful (or particularly awful) encounter can change the way we fantasize. So it really isn’t any surprise, if our fantasies don’t exist in a vacuum, that if we structure our life around acertain set of ideas, a certain framework, that our fantasies will have something of that structure as well, and there’s really no better example of such a framework for a website devoted to talking about love and sex in the furry fandom than the furry fandom itself.

The idea of frameworks on which to hang aspects of our lives is hardly unique to fantasies, of course. Much of the mythical aspects of religion serve the same sort of purpose: if we can understand our world from creation up until now through some sort of tale or story, then we have some context, some grid in which to place our thoughts, ideas, and action. That story can be something that’s meant almost entirely as an analog, such as a ladder reaching up to heaven, one side of which angels ascend and the other side of which angels descend, or it can be something to be interpreted literally such as the Israelites’ travels in Exodus. Both of these offer us something: a lesson, an idea, a concept that people can use to build up a framework of reality.

The example may be a bit abstruse, but in almost all aspects of life, we rely on a framework in which to fit things so that we may more easily understand them. Another way to think of the concept is a grid, or, to follow the metaphor further, a pair of glasses with a grid painted on them. We seek to find the level to which to align that grid, so that the ground lines up with the horizontals and the trees align with the verticals. It’s a way of thinking about and interpreting the world around us.

So what is sexual fantasy and how exactly does it rely on a framework of interpretation? It might help to first break down sexual fantasies into a few rough categories, because I think that, by understanding those categories, it will be easier to figure out the way they apply to the topic at hand.

  1. Backward-Thinking Fantasy – these fantasies are about events that have happened in the past which have come to mean a lot to us. It could be that we experienced some wonderful time, with someone else or by ourselves, and it struck a chord. It need not have even been wonderful, it could’ve been awful and, instead, the fantasy takes a turn for the “what could I have done different”-ness. Either way, everything relies on something from the past.
  2. Forward-Thinking Fantasy – fantasies that look forward to some event in the future, whether or not it’s definite, are finding a way to project past events into what we suppose will happen to us some time down the line. Again, these can focus on either the positive or the negative; after all, revenge fantasies are hardly uncommon.
  3. What-If Fantasies – these are the most common – for me, at least – types of fantasies: taking our current situation and either recasting it into something sexualized (what if I were receiving oral sex right now), taking our current situation and replacing it with something else (what if I were receiving oral sex on a picnic somewhere right now), or replacing our current situation with something entirely different (what if I were some anthro fox person chilling in a bar and some random wolf…well, you know).

The first one is obvious in its connection with these sorts of reticles through which we view the world. The things we’ve done in the past actually took place; they’ve happened, they’ve already been interpreted, and we already can look at them through the lenses that we’ve constructed out of the frameworks we hold dear.

The second is similarly obvious. They are things we expect, want, or for some other reason need to happen. These are, of course, often not sexual – imagining the relief of graduation or what you’ll do with this year’s bonus are very potent (if not exactly orgasm-inducing) ways to think about the future. However, most anyone who has taken part in a long-distance relationship with a sexual aspect can assure you that these come fast and hard at times, and can even be a relatively exciting thing to share with one’s partner (phone sex or type-fucking is okay, talking about fantasies is pretty neat, but putting them together is a well-tested means of testing such things out in otherwise constrained circumstances).

The third one, though, is where we really should focus, as I hinted at before. Thinking of furry as a framework constructed specifically with fantasy in mind buys us quite a lot. We can take all of these things we think and dream about, sexual and otherwise, and apply this lens of anthropomorphic animals to it. Furry isn’t just anthropomorphic animals, it’s anthropomorphic animals told consistently and coherently. By that, I mean that these aren’t just animal-shaped monstrosities existing without history or future, but these are our characters that live and grow with us, or stories set in worlds with centuries of past behind them taking place over time. The framework is loose enough to accommodate Renaissance-era worlds such as Kyell Gold’s Volle at the same time as it accommodates Kevin Frane’s future-ish universe of Summerhill (you’ll have to read the book to see what ‘future-ish’ means).

In short, what furry buys us is an open invitation to fantasize within its bounds. Part of the reason that sex plays the role that it does within the fandom is the combination of the previous two belabored points: if sexual fantasy plays such a large role for us, and furry is made for fantasy, then the two fit together quite nicely. All of the art, all of the role-play, even the convention sex and fursuit sex all play into that, they’re all one sort of way or another of acting out fantasy within this aspect of our lives.

These aren’t just simple, one-off fantasies, either: they can serve the very real purpose of exploration of self. In my own case, I don’t really know how else I would’ve felt comfortable exploring my own gender identity without having some aspect of role-play involved.

There are various ways that various trans* have found or have been made to explore this, themselves The most obvious being the Real-Life Experience or RLE, where a trans* patient is required to live their life in their desired gender role, fulfilling a predetermined checklist of items, sometimes before their doctor will prescribe hormones, and almost always before a surgeon will perform SRS. There are good and valid reasons that this standard of care is advocated, but some criticisms have been levied against it for being a mechanism of gatekeeping.

For myself, the outlet of role-play within the fantasy world was my form of experience, though, of course, hardly RLE. The fact that I had something in my life already set up to accommodate a change in form so drastic as a change in perceived sex – after all, that’s relatively minor considering the whole “look, I’m an arctic fox!” thing – gave me a means of exploring in a relatively safe place without necessarily committing to something such as hormones or surgery. I spent a good deal of time between about 2006 and 2011 exploring the tie-ins between gender and sex as they pertained to me by exploiting this whole framework that I had to work with. I could, in other words, pass, even to the point of having sex (lots of that, actually, I was quite the hornball for awhile, but I digress).

That experience, the fantasy that I had the fortune to be able to live out in at least some sense was really one of the more formative aspects of my life. What started out as a “mere” sexual fantasy wound up being one of those delightful self-discovery type things, helping me to figure out the ways in which I best interact with gender. It wasn’t RLE, but it served many of the same purposes for me.

Fantasy serves a very important role to us for reasons such as this. We gain experience interacting with the world in a social manner by finding healthy ways to harness fantasy for our own purposes. It’s not that everything I did surrounding all of that was healthy, by any stretch (my grades in school and at least a few friendships and relationships suffered), but neither was it useless faffing about on the Internet. I know I’m not alone in this, either. Furry as a framework for fantasy has helped just about everyone I know within the fandom in one way or another, whether it’s helping them through a tough time, such as the way my social circle pulled together after a friend’s death, or the sexual release many find.

I should note that I don’t think this is necessarily a furry thing, of course. Similar frameworks exist in many different communities, even ones that permit and encourage sexuality. Several kink communities are notable examples of this. This is a very large part of our lives for many of us, though, and so it’s notable on a personal level. I am a very big fan of it, and think it’s something worth embracing, as is probably obvious, and I think that a fair number of folks out there feel the same way. There are unhealthy ways to go about such things, of course, but that does not preclude healthy ways, either; after all, the option to have something that’s safe, fun, and social is something to cherish.
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Categories: News

Intersections

Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 22:30

Love ◦ Sex ◦ Fur is a new project by [adjective][species] to explore relationships, sexuality, and some of the finer points of personal interaction within the furry fandom. It is intended to be a safe space for authors to write about the ways in which these topics interact on social, cultural, and personal levels, helping us to leave no stone unturned in our explorations.

The intersection between our subculture, sexuality, and love is complex, and all the more interesting for that fact. A lot of what motivates us in life is the pursuit of happiness in all its varied forms, and the fact that we are so varied is what helps make all of this so interesting: things don’t always line up, or they line up beautifully, and the reasons for that are worth investigating.

Furry does not take place in a social vacuum, of course, but it does act as an attractor in a chaotic system: those of us who get close tend to stay close and find happiness within this system that is bound up in our happiness. We have a tendency to date within the fandom, to fall in love with other furries, and to enjoy our time together, always seeming to steer down the same path. It’s hardly a new phenomenon, either, but it’s still very pertinent.

These are the types of things that LSF will attempt to explore. The safe space bit of it helps to encourage authors to write what they want to write about with the understanding that that is what the site is all about. So, with that said, come and join us for exploration of the intersection of love, sex, and fur.

Categories: News