Fur Real?

A look inside the furry subcultural craze

By Tom Huddleston, Jr.


Most people would probably never look at Minnie Mouse and think: “Damn, what I’d give to get her out of that polka dot dress.“ But then again, most people aren’t furries.

The furry sub-culture garnered a larger profile in recent years thanks to mostly unflattering references on television shows like Entourage and CSI. The term “furry” refers to people who take their love of human-like cartoon animals to extremes that include donning fur suits, creating furry fanzines, and attending “ConFurences.” Most pop cultural depictions seem to focus on the sexual side of furrydom — in which participants dress as their favorite woodland creatures while engaging in acts so creepily X-Rated that there’s a special place reserved for them all the way in the back of the Disney Vault.

In his 2001 article for Vanity Fair entitled “Pleasures of the Fur,” George Gurley shed some light on the sexual nature of some furries. Sex between furries is known as “yiffing.” As in, “I totally yiffed the shit out of that owl last night.” Another furry-centric term is “skritching,” which refers to an animal-like grooming procedure that serves as a type of greeting in the rapidly expanding community of animal lovers.

In 1989, San Diego, California hosted 65 furries at the first official convention, ConFurence Zero. Today, Anthrocon, the world’s largest furry convention, cites annual increases in attendance since its inception in 1997 and hosted 3,776 furries this past year. Furries also head a social-networking trend — FurNation, founded in 1996, boasting over 4,000 bestial buffs as members.

The genre draws a tremendous amount of influence from mainstream books and movies with anthropomorphic animal characters, including Watership Down, Disney’s Robin Hood, and even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For those who fondly remember breaking out nunchucks and a fake shell for Halloween, the concept of Michelangelo as an object of some “furvert’s” desire could prove unsettling. But sexualizing our youthful heroes is just an issue with which we will forever have to grapple.

Members of the furry community, though, claim that the kinky sexual reputation they currently sport is overblown. In fact, a 2007 survey conducted by the UC Davis Furry Research Team — no doubt a crack team — found that, while 76% of furries in relationships claim a fellow furry as their significant other, only 18% of furries actually own their own fursuit, suggesting that they can’t all be fucking like, well, rabbits.

Of course, the fact that furry fandom isn’t all about Barry Beaver mounting Sally Squirrel only makes the whole scene slightly less disturbing, yet there is something almost equally perverse about the fact that these people actually excited about the release of Howard the Duck on DVD. The truth is, furries aren’t much different from Trekkies and Star Wars geeks: mostly white males who absolutely adore animals with human characteristics and they take that love to freakier places than any sane person could ever imagine.

So, congratulations, furries. Today you are slightly less creepy than you were yesterday

Image courtesy of blogs.westward.com

Tom Huddleston, Jr. is a regular web contributor of Jerk Explains it All.