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Furries

Freaky Fetish or Furballs of Fun?

Like 90 percent of my dating stories, this one begins with Grindr.

Early last week, I was lying in bed watching Hellraiser, when I got a notification that I had a new message on Grindr.

Lately, the only messages I've been getting on there are the ones from bots asking me if I'm into fucking/sucking, friends, or dating. I figured out fairly early on that these are bots and they they stick to a relatively verbatim script. I'd respond with something—anything—and would get almost an instantaneous response of "Huh?" My next reply would warrant a "Wtf? I'm getting notified of your messages but can't see them." One last time I'd feign interest and be rewarded with, "I guess if you're a real person and are interested text me," complete with a random phone number; one that was not from my area code. I've learned to pick those profiles out by their names alone "Want2SwallowUrLoad," "RyanSwallows," etc. Another indicator is that despite messaging me mere moments before, the user would be offline.

So, as you can imagine, I was mildly irritated that I was wasting my time even checking to see whom the message had come from. Why wasn't Grindr doing a better job of protecting us? A bot or two here and there is one thing, but several a day, especially between midnight and 3 am is obnoxious.

I was surprised to see that the profile jame was "Moderator" and the profile picture was of a cartoon wolf. Never knowing when to just walk away, I opened the message to see that the guy had said "Hey." I replied the same and checked out the profile. I was not totally surprised based on the profile pic, but still shocked to see that the guy identified as a furry.

For those of you not up on all the hot, new lingo, Urban Dictionary defines a furry as :

1. adjective.: having or coated in fur.
2. adjective.: being related to the 'furry' community, such as artwork, stories.
3. mistake.: A misspelling of fury =P
4. noun.:
    a. One who shows interest in things that can be described with the              'furry' adjective.
    b. One who prefers to imagine themself as more animalistic than they         are."

There is a subsect of the furries that like to dress up like animals and have sex with consenting partners. Those are the furries with which I am the most acquainted. However, just because someone is a furry, doesn't mean they like to have sex in wolf costumes.

There is a Doctor Who convention that I like to attend Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago, called Chicago TARDIS.  Two year ago when I was there, I was on line to get an autograph from Michelle Gomez, when I noticed that the couple in front of me was a man in his late 30s to early 40s, and a human sized cartoon wolf. I tried not to be conspicuous, but I kept my attention on the pair. As they approached the table where Michelle and her assistant were seated, the man spoke for his partner, who just waved and shook her hands excitedly. Michelle found the whole thing hilarious, even when the man asked for the autograph to be made out to his partner, although the name was obviously fake. I couldn't help but snag a peek at the photo they were having signed: both the man and Michelle with the wolf girl, too. 

I could not believe that someone would go in public dressed like a cartoon wolf, but was completely floored that the woman would pay $50 for a photo with an actress and her face wasn't even in it! And then she paid another $50 to have it signed! I tried not to judge too harshly, but come on, I work hard for my money. There's no way I'd waste it on a photo and autograph where the real me wasn't even visible.

The guy on Grindr was my first initiated  experience with a furry. I decided to educate myself online before labeling the guy as a freak. As always, wikipedia offered a plethora of information.

The term "furry" was coined at a 1980 science fiction convention, according to Frank Patten, the fandom historian. A dialogue about anthropomorphic characters in sci was broached after a character drawing of Albedo Anthropomorphics by Steve Gallucci was shown. 

The term "furry fandom" began appearing in fanzines as early as 1983.

A study found that the furry fandom is male-dominated, with 80% of the respondents identifying as male.

Most studies of the furry community have been found to be rather divided.

Gerbasi et al conducted a survey in 2007 to examine the myriad derivations of the furry fandom. 38% of the surveyed (the largest) cited a "route to socializing with others who share common interests such as anthropomorphic art and costumes" as the main reason for their interest in the community. Conversely, other furries were discovered who identified as "other than human" and/or wanted to be like the animal which which they identify.

Compared to the non-Furry population, bisexuality and homosexuality were found to be over-represented -- at an estimated factor of 10—within the furry community. A study in the US found that 1.8% of furries were bi, while 1.7% were gay, according to a 2011 study from UCLA scholars.

On the other other hand, of four separate surveys, 37-52% were bisexual, 28-51% were straight, 14-25% were gay, and 3-8% were none of the above.  Of the respondents, half were in relationships; 76% of which were in a relationship with another furry.

There are sexual elements to the furry lifestyle, including furry-themed cybersex and erotic art.

The term "Yiff" is sometimes used to describe sexual activity with furries either on or off line.

A survey of 4,300 furries on sex within the community concluded that 38% were ambivalent on sex and their furry identity; 37% felt that sexual attraction was important; 24% saw no correlation.

A separate study had 46% claiming to have "minor sexual interest in furries," 33% to have "significant sexual interest in furries," and 21% having no sexual interest.

Another survey found that 96.3% of males watched furry porn, as did 78.3% of females. 50.9% of the furry art was pornagraphic. 17.1% of males exclusively-- or almost so -- watched furry porn. 5% credited furry porn as their reason for joining the fandom.

A very tiny group of the furry community is interested in zoophilia (sex with animals,) while the majority are against it.

In 2008, an anonymous survey was conducted and revealed that 17% of the respondents were into zoophilia.

A 1997 - 1998 study showed a 2% interest in zoophilia and 1% interest in plushphilia (sex arousal by stuffed animals.)

A comparable study from 1974 to 1980 at the University of Northern Iowa had 7.5% into zoophilia, and  2.2 to 5.3 % fantasizing about sex with animals.

So, just like everything else there is good and bad to it. I feel less creeped out knowing that predominantly, the furry. community is just about loving animals with human qualities, dressing up like them, and finding acceptance. In a way, it's not so different from me dressing up and going to Comic Con, though I only go to meet the celebrities. I couldn't really care less about meeting other fans.

The furry guy and I did talk briefly, but once he realized that I was almost 100 miles away, he stopped talking. My feelings weren't. I love animals, especially cats (I have five) but I would never date a furry -- sexual or otherwise. I couldn't take my partner seriously if they were wandering around the house in an animal costume. Maybe I'm just narrow-minded, I don't know.

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