Ryan Alexander Hill Version 1.

5 Furries [Foreword] It is important to note that a majority of what I have written is based on my knowledge, my research, and my observations of the furry culture as a whole. [Introduction] In the whole of this document, it is with the intent to cover a subject that has little literature or documentation to explain it. furries difficult a very difficult subject to find any kind of real concrete information on that isn't biased or one-sided. I intend on covering as many perspectives on the matter as I can. I suppose the first real thing that should be reviewed or understood as someone who is either curious about the subject or seeking to learn more about furries should be what exactly constitutes a furry. This is a slick slope to stand on because that is where the problem originates and the reason I feel the need to write this article. It is not easy to define what constitutes a furry or how one defines being a furry to one or two simple variables. That is not to say that it can’t be one or two simple aspects that define someone as a furry but it is very easy to lose track of the different ways people tie themselves to being a furry. I can say that there is an average or middle ground where everyone can agree that those variables fit into furriness, but it is just as easy to say that being a furry is a modular culture where one chooses to identify with different aspects that are usually agreed upon within the culture as to being furry. As much as anyone would like to say that furries are a “kink” culture, that is not necessarily true in all domains and there are many people who do not believe that it is in all cases a hyper-sexualized aspect of their life. At some point I will be making a reviewed list of the aspects that are most commonly associated with furry culture. I am going to write the list with the intent that it follows the idea of a modular culture where one picks and chooses what kind of things in the culture interest them. Many of these things can be easily broken down or related to kinks or even just sexual urges, but it is often the case that these choices of interest are part of why a person will identify themselves as a furry. It is very important to take note that there are many other cultures that express themselves and sometimes a furry will denote themselves not only as a furry, but as a member of that culture. When I say this I mean to state that it is very important that you know that I am writing about specific attributes of the furry subculture. Many people often make assumptive connections to other cultures or kinks and it can be very confusing when the primary element that I am focusing on is confused with other kinks like bondage, masochism, and dominance/submission. I will expand on this later. The more commonly identified aspects of the furry culture are those that are visual or physical in nature because those are the quickest things that we can latch onto. Much in the idea of stereotypes there are a lot of things that come to mind when someone says furries to someone who is a not a furry. Like anything else in any culture there are stereotypes layered at the top and I am here to dissect

the whole of it and really delve into each aspect so that there is some kind of written characterization of how furries function. My first subject of dissection will be representation and how that plays out in a multitude of ways into furry identity. [Subject: Representation - Physicality] The first aspect of representation that is quite easy to understand is the actual physical denotation or characterization that a person might choose for themselves based on either appearance or personal preference of appearance. That is to say that the choice might be stirred by the physical characteristics of the person matching the animal itself or because they have a particular fancy for said animal's appearance. A literal physical representation may take the form of a costume, which among the culture is labeled as a fursuit. Apart from something imagined or rendered in an artistic medium like digital or traditional art forms this is probably one of the easiest to identify apart from the other traits. For anyone who has no knowledge of what a fursuit is, it is something like what most people identify as a sports mascot. [Subject: Representation - Psychology] The second aspect of representation I make note of is that of a psychological or mental affiliation with a specific animal. Things like a Pack Mentality or being “animal-minded” are things that would be related to this subject, but are things that I will save to explain later. This psychological or mental attachment to a specific animal can be stirred by a lot of things. In some ways I feel that the more common reasons for affiliation are rooted in the actual stereotypical characteristics that are often assigned or assumed to be part of a species' attitudes or habits. One example of this is that foxes are often considered to be very friendly, but also very promiscuous. It's important to note while often informed by the broader culture's interpretation of an animal, furry stereotypes have evolved from within as well, resulting in interpretations that can be drastically different. I would like to cite an example from a study in National Geographic to make an example of actual fox psychology and development compared alongside the development of lupine and canines throughout history. What took hundreds of years for lupines to turn into canines and develop more docile trends took only a few years for foxes. In a closed study there was a group of foxes that were raised by humans and over a few generations they became very friendly and very docile (Ratliff). The aforementioned instance is an example of where the common furry draws a psychological comparison of traits and attributes them to a specific species. Another example would be that because wolves are wild animals one might consider it appealing if they don't like authority or if they consider themselves to be very separated from society. There is also the concept of mindsets, which I will be covering later, that are very important to the expression of personal values and behaviors often related to a specific animal or species. [Subject: Representation - Spirituality] The third aspect of representation is spirituality. A person who expresses a spiritual connection to an animal might feel that they are connected to that animal by other means than one that would reflect a psychological or physical tie. A spiritual connection may lead to a psychological connection or a physical connection but these furries tend to stray away from labeling it as a physical or psychological connection. I suppose the one really good example of a Spiritual connection that does have a lot of literature written about it would be Totemism.

[Subject: Fetishism] The next subject that is easiest to relate to the previous dissection of representation is fetishism. For anyone who does not understand the origin of the word fetish or its literal meaning it is easiest to state that it is something that must be present in order for something else to occur. Branching from that an example would be that if one has a necklace that they associate with a certain type of fate—maybe a degree of greater luck that they attribute to the necklace—then they aren't going to feel like they are as lucky when they don’t have that necklace. Stated more concisely, if that subject is not present there will be no response whether it be physical, psychological, or spiritual. If there is a response it might be suppressed by a conditioned favoritism for that particular fetish. In this case I believe that there is a very strong role in fetishism for a furry by comparison in a non-furry. I suppose that this is more easily stated that while a furry can feel a psychological, physical, or spiritual connection to another person it will be much stronger if that person is also emulating or representing a similar part of those three states. As a modular culture it is not uncommon for a furry to feel or express connections to different parts or aspects of all three of these things. [Subject: Mindsets, Actions, and Orders] As I said I would revisit the subject I feel that it is very important to explain the subject of mindsets as they are connected to the psychology of furries. There are a great many mindsets that can be taken on by person as these are also a modular form of expression as it is related to the furry culture. That is to say that it is sub modular in a hierarchy of other possible attributes that are in the whole of the culture. A mindset can be taken on by a furry as they desire to ingrain themselves psychologically in the role that they have assigned for themselves within the furry culture. Apart from positioning themselves into this psychological role there are a great deal of expressions and actions that furries will use to define or display this mindset to others. I feel that the word action best describes these social expressions that are often more heard of than seen by anyone else especially non furs. A short list of the more commonly stated, used, and heard of actions would be nuzzling, biting, licking, growling, petting, and scratching. Many of these are very friendly actions and require a lot of comfort in the security of either another person or in the personal subjection into the mindset of being a furry. Many of those are exactly as they sound and very self explanatory as being relative to treating oneself and others like the animal they are representing. That being said I feel it is safe to say that furries have more narrow personal boundaries around other furries that they are both comfortable and friends with regardless of relationship status. Although that is not to say that all are as freely expressive of these characteristics and actions as others. Hence my belief on a modular mindset being very case sensitive to the person. It might be better to explain growling as a non specific action. That is to say that it is not necessarily an aggressive behavior. It can be used as a method of expressing and emotion using a very animalistic sound. Another part of dissecting the mindsets of furries is understanding how relation to an animal's psychology or characteristics can shape their social beliefs rather than just their forms of representation. The best example in my opinion for this particular form of structure is the concept of a pack mentality. It is a form of relationship structured around there being more than one participant involved.

More easily stated would be an example to stir the mind. Say there is a group of people who consider themselves to be in love with each other; The concept of love being very elementary and universal. This grouping could be of a very serious tone where they are all in fact very committed to each other and from that point on there could be more developments to associate the structure of the group with that of a wolf pack. The next keystone in the structure being the concept of an Alpha male and an Alpha female; leaders. If there is a group than it is easy to assume if it is not a collective balance of members than there must be those who are in control of the group. Adding another twist to make the instance of this pack mentality more complicated and more specific we can infuse the concept of dominance and submission. In that sense let us assume that in this group the Alphas are the dominants in the group and anyone else is submissive. I am not going to review the concept of dominance and submission but I will say that it is possible for furries to take other concepts of other cultures and kinks to further the intent or the feel of relation between the actual natural expressions or ideas as they are seen in the wild and transfer them to literal representations in their lives to either mimic or relate to their furry personalities. [Subject: Visualization and Fursonas] As I covered earlier in my explanation of physical representation there are visual representations that can be portrayed in many manners by furries. It is important to note that appearance can evolve in either direction in the case of a furry's choice of physical attributions. A representation can evolve based on the original appearances a furry has and move forward to be adjusted to a more anthropomorphic or animalistic. At the same time a furry might adjust or transform this representation farther than that to form more of an ideal physical match for their personality even if it does not match their exact characteristics or body type. There is much in the way of speech involved in furry culture; many terms and other ideas that are often used in speech to express ideas or subjects to other furries. I will not delve too deeply into this, but as an example I will bring up the word mate. It is one of the most commonly used words by furries to express something of an immediate sense that a furry will understand and anyone else will have to think about, or will not understand because it is not commonly used in other forms of vernacular. The concept of a significant other, which is one of its exact meanings, is really the only use of the word, but it is so outside the realm of common speech that many people would be confused at its use. As all of this has been explained I will focus on one of the major primary accepted ideals that is held across the furry culture. The concept of the fursona; or the furry personality. This for lack of a better way to say it in so many words is the culmination of all of the modular perspectives, beliefs, attributions, and choices any single furry will make up. [Subject: Stereotypes] It is common as a culture in any culture for there to be stereotypes that are the assumed norm by outsiders who do not have an understanding of the people within. I would like to clarify what things are ignorant stereotypes and what are falsehoods. It is assumed by a lot of people that every furry likes or is into the idea of fursuits, which is not the case. That is one form of identity that I covered and is one thing that a furry can use as either a fetish or an association to their fursonas. Not all furries are sex addled lunatics, but that is not to say that it isn't very common. Nor is it the case that furries, unless they are otherwise inclined, practice zoophilia. [Subject: Speech] …. I'll get to this...

Works Consulted Ratliff, Evan. "Animal Domestication: Taming the Wild - Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine." National Geographic Magazine. National Geographic. Web. 23 Jan. 2012. <http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/03/taming-wild-animals/ratliff-text>.