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Para-what?

Paraphila is an umbrella term used to cover the family of philias. In sexology, it is sometimes more widely used to cover atypical sexual interests or deviances. While the word paraphilia may seem alien, the philias it encompasses may seem slightly familiar. Think fetishes and unusual desires and you're on the right track!

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

What an animal!


Judging by my household zoo of 3 cats and a pup, you could easily call me a pet-lover. Over the years, I've read many fantasies, tales and cases of sexual love for animals - snakes, horses, gerbils, oh my - however, I've never quite been able to 'get' it. Perhaps it was my sheltered upbringing, but the thought of an animal makes me feel quite asexual, I'm pleased to say. While I could never condone those sorts of acts, I've no right to stop anyone's fantasy - to each their own, I suppose.

While acts of beastiality leave me feeling disturbed and slightly more asexual than when I began writing this blog, my exposure to the sexual side of furry fandom has left me slightly scarred! With its own Wiki portal, this large group is on the increase as more and more people are turning to anthromorphic love.

Anthropomorphic or “humanised” animals have existed since early civilisations such as ancient Egypt. In many cultures, man has created animals with human traits. However, it's only been since the 1980's that furry”fandom has been recognized as a distinct community. With fans found globally, they are bound by their affection for these fanciful creatures and their longing to become them themselves.

In a Usenet posting, a member calling himself furry fan Dr Pepper explains his desire to the newbie. And of course there's mention of sex, after all we are at heart animals with primal urges. He writes: " Long as we're getting free of social conventions, we might as well get to sex. Most furries are interested in the concept of sex between themselves as themselves, or themselves as their personas, with other such creatures. This differs from simple bestiality in that the partner is another mature sapient. So regardless of the species difference, it remains full participation sex between two people. Dear me, did I say two? Two is another social convention. A lot (most?) furries like group sex. In fact, social conventions seem to go down like dominos once one gets started. That may be why so many (most?) furries are bi. "

Events such as Anthrocon, the largest held each summer in Pittsburgh, allow the community to meet and perhaps let social conventions collapse. With 2000 costumed attendees expected, it's bound to be an exciting event for those involved and slightly shocking for onlookers.

George Gurley's article "Pleasures of the Fur" for Vanity Fair gives insight into a similar event, the Midwest Furfest. Gurley writes: "A moose is loitering outside a hotel in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights. The moose -- actually a man in a full-body moose costume -- is here for a convention ... and so is the porcupine a few feet away, as well as the many foxes and wolves.

"Even the people in regular clothes have a little something (ferret hand puppet, rabbit ears) to set them apart from the ordinary hotel guests. One man in jeans and a button-down shirt gets up from a couch in the lobby and walks over to the elevator, revealing a fluffy tail dragging behind him. The elevator doors open. Inside, a fellow is kissing a man with antlers on his head.

"The other hotel guests look stunned.

"'We're a group of people who like things having to do with animals and cartoons,' a man in a tiger suit tells a woman. 'We're furries'

"'So cute,' the woman says."

So, what is it about furry anthromorphic creatures that gets fans' juuces flowing? Giza writes on the Anthrocon site: ""If you as an adult still occasionally like to flip to the old cartoons, or have a stuffed animal sitting on the dashboard of your car, or buy cereal because it has a cool tiger on the box, you may well enjoy what our fandom has to offer."

Sex columnist Dan Savage, of The Onion and Stranger fame writes: "Furries emerged in the late 1990s, right when the first generation of children whose entire lives were dominated by Disney products and imagery came of age. After being exposed to images of cuddly, safe, saucer-eyed, anthropomorphized animals throughout their childhoods, during puberty these same kids had sex presented to them as something deadly and dangerous. The abstinence "educators" and AIDS "awareness" campaigns they were subjected to exaggerated the actual risks of HIV transmission, pregnancy, and death. Is it any wonder that a tiny percentage of this Disney/abstinence generation came to fetishize the safe and cuddly stuffed animals of their childhoods? "

Jonathan Miller, in a letter to the Register disagrees with this type of media perception of furry purely as a fetish.

Miller argues: "While it IS true that there are those who use the furry community as a vehicle for their sexuality, a large majority lead relatively normal lives. The problem that has occurred, and one that the community is very concerned about, is that the news media has decided to single out those with furry-related fetishes and used them to portray the group as a whole."

While Savage sets out an argument which seems plausible, Miller's certainly needs to be given some weight. When it comes to obsessions and fixations, it's best not to tar all with one brush....but perhaps I'm feeling slightly biased today as my desk is adorned with not one but two P.G. Tips Monkeys and my house is overflowing with the teabags that I bought to make them mine! I guess that means it's cups of tea all around!!


3 comments:

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Perri Rhoades said...

Well, you certainly have come across a lot of derogatory writings on what amounts to a harmless subject. Basically the hype that furry fandom is all about sex is just that, hype. Generally it's a fandom for cartoons, literature, arts and crafts. If there seems to be sex in it, that's because it's the adult counterpoint to the younger traditional furry fandom, and adults usually have some kind of taste for sexual humor and whatnot. Though, believe it or not, even in this day and age, they also often have an eye for intellectual and insightful content. But nobody likes to look at that angle, because it's boring. It doesn’t make for shocking exposé articles.

So basically furry fandom is just a bunch of people enjoying the anthropomorphic arts in the same way people from any other fandom would enjoy their art forms. People make a lot of fuss about us, but we really don't deserve it. Really, we don't. We're just a bunch of boring comic book geeks that you wouldn't give the time of day to if you couldn't find some little thing to blow up all out of proportion so that we look shocking, or at least interesting.

Seriously, is there anything interesting about a 44 year old guy watching Chip N Dale's Rescue Rangers just because it's cute and funny? Nah. Boring. Stupid even. Maybe worth half a LOL.

Anyway, this right here is a pretty accurate portrayal of the fandom.

And here's the history of the genre the fandom exists for.

Karen Cotton said...

Perri,

Thanks for your comment and the links to the You Tube clip and the genre's history. I have looked at both and found them quite insightful.

While I did choose to focus on the sexual aspect of furry fandom, it was in keeping within my blog's subject matter.

My research showed that yes, there are many furries out there who are creative and passionate about their interest in a purely non-sexual way, however, for some there is a sexual element which is informative and entertaining to some.

As human beings, we are unfortunately driven by our animal urges (no pun intended), so therefore enjoy engaging in, viewing and reading about these urges...unfortunately the media understands this and therefore sexualises any story in order to profit.

I attempted to approach the subject of furry fandom with an open-mind which is difficult as there are many derogatory writings out there on the subject.

As my blog is about sexual fetishes, I did choose to focus on the sexual aspect - however, I did point out that my interest was in the 'sexual side of furry fandom' -to indicate to readers that this is by no means a general tarring of all furry fans as furry fetishists.

While searching for a response to the notion of all furry fans being portrayed as having sexual thrills from this fetish, I came across Jonathan Miller's quite valid point - so included it.

I'm sorry if my views caused any offence as that never was and never will be my intention.

Thanks again for your comment.

Karen