Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An Outsider's Look @ 'Fursuiting'.

I can honestly say that I've never invested much energy trying to empathize with 'furries'. In fact I've been so ignorant about this little subculture that I wasn't even aware that their proper term is 'fursuiters'. Of course this doesn't exactly roll right off the tongue, so it's not likely to supplant common parlance. However it is always instructive to learn how people view themselves, especially when there is so much ridicule directed toward them. Perhaps I should explain the basic phenomena- 'fursuiting' is a type of activity aimed at anthropomorphizing animals. The idea is to design a costume that makes the individual appear like a cute and fuzzy animal. You can't reasonably claim never to have seen this in action. Indeed many college and high school mascots are represented by students in animal costumes. They just happen to appear so for more indirect reasons.

The true 'fursuiter' dresses like a beast for passion, not profession. For one reason or another these folks get personal enjoyment by adopting the personalities of other species. Sometimes they wear full bodysuits, and these can be quite elaborate. The deluxe fursuit includes an internal cooling system such as is found in computer hard drives. But the vast majority of participants opt for stuffed animal heads, tails, gloves, and leggings, worn together with 'ordinary' human clothing. Naturally you would expect 'furries' to flock together, and there are indeed a number of annual conventions set up for them to congregate and interact. Anthrocon is one of the biggest yearly events, and is actually held here in Pittsburgh, PA.

Since our beautiful new convention center has attracted such an illustrious gathering, it follows that there has been ample discussion and speculation among the locals about just what the 'furries' are up to. One of the central features of Anthrocon is the opportunity for dealers and designers to show off their wares to potential customers. While there is likely some money to be made in the fursuit industry, many of the participants are involved for love rather than profit. Artistry in the costumes is admired and critiqued at the convention. There are also social events, role playing scenarios, art shows and dances. The organization that runs Anthrocon strives to maintain an environment that is suitable for all ages, but they require that minors be accompanied by an appropriate guardian.

One of the main reasons for the extra care taken to govern the overall atmosphere of Anthrocon is the prevailing perception of 'furries' throughout the larger society. It is a commonly held belief that the raison d'etre of fursuiting has to do with fetish play. This aspect of the phenomena is the cause for much contempt and suspicion. Why else would full-grown adults want to dress up as animals if they weren't to be engaged in some odd perversity? Visions of cross-species fornication haunt the assumptions of the innocent. Comparisons are made to fetish balls and other seedy niches in transgressive culture. This is rather unfortunate for the wholesome guy or gal who just wants to leave their worries buried at the 100 degree center of a giant badger costume. Not every dude in a dog suit wants to bite off your pecker, a la The Shining.

Perhaps it's simply an easy target, but the entire 'furry' subculture has been subject to a disproportionate amount of enmity. It's not as if the conventional world of 'heterosexuality' is without its dark corners. Maybe it's true that 5-10% of the furry community actually gets down to some illicit activity. Should we be so surprised? I guess it doesn't help that the occasional vorarephile lurks on the edges of the fursuiting community. In a way I guess it's a natural extension. Yet it would be a mistake to think that there is a vicious predator hiding behind every cute and fuzzy mask. Sure there are special suits designed with anatomically correct artificial genitalia... but for every woodland biped with "strategically placed holes", there's a giant mouse just wanting to make a child smile. Is there anything truly wrong with that?

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24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's get real, even if all these folks are dangerous perverts-- Pittsburgh is in no position to kick them out cause we are broke and need to pimp ourselves out to anyone who can pay.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Rick Byerly said...

i wonder how they feel about actual animals with fur? i notice they prohibit pets at the convention (bad attempt at humor there).

11:27 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

anon,

I certainly have no problem with them congregating in our fair city. Hell, I would gladly go back to the heyday of freak shows. The weirder, the better.

As far as being broke- the whole damn country is broke.


rick,

Funny... they don't really talk about non-anthropomorphized creatures.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet a lot of folks think Bankok has lost it's edge as the place to sleep with a 10 year old and Burma is just to hard to get to.

Lets market Pittsburgh as a furry petting zoo! We have to face the fact that the casino isn't gonna pay all the bills and get down and dirty.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Zoosexuality is permitted in a few countries, such as Sweden and Denmark, although ordinary animal treatment laws apply. In other countries, such as Germany and Russia, zoosexuality is legal, but zoosexual pornography is illegal.

Elsewhere in the developed world, it is a prudent assumption that it is illegal or at the least against social custom.

There are also commonly laws against forcing another person to engage in zoosexual activity, especially minors (usually considered equivalent to rape), and laws related to exposing others (either non-consensually or minors) to the sight of a sexual act. In some jurisdictions, laws against zoosexual conduct also include provisions for seizure of animals where convicted.

Sexual handling of an animal for the purposes of veterinary practice, or animal husbandry (breeding), is normally exempted where such laws exist. In public discussion for the recently passed Oregon law, however, one animal shelter's spokesperson wanted the husbandry exemption kept out, as he was concerned that someone might use these "accepted farming practices" as a legal loophole to then have (legal) sexual contact with an animal only for personal enjoyment. One of the legislators responded by asking if they were trying to outlaw an act (of sexual contact), or a state of mind. The veterinary and husbandry exemption was left out of Oregon's law in the final, enacted version."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoosexuality_and_the_law

See! Some European countries are serious about being economically competitive. We can't afford to wait. Lot's of people are hot for horses and some of them are rich.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, we have to legalize drugs too! Burma has both child prostitutes and fresh high grade smack in one place. We lost everything else to China and India. We gotta fight for this market. I'm sure they are cool with you raping a duck there too for the right price.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/oct/30/burma.international

http://www.asiaobserver.com/Burma/Burma-background-drugs.htm

10:52 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

anon,

I duuno. My inclination is to suggest that you are going a bit overboard here. I hardly think you can compare fursuiting to child porn and bestiality (or zoosexuality, or whatever).You don't think we should criminalize fursuiting, do you? Whatever would they do at our nations' theme parks?

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know, most of this is just harmless fun. But I am serious about going for the hardcore market. Some perverts are really rich!

People just are not being real about how broke the city is. They were happy to spend themselves into the tank and now they seem shocked at the results. Drugs and hardcore bestiality are a solid money making market and will fill up the convention center and hotels pronto.

And as far as filling up the stadiums-- I say go with the Roman solution.

4:44 PM  
Blogger jefg99 said...

Merge,

This may come as a surprise to you (as you might not remember it), but you mother fursuited a few times years ago. Some people took pictures of her. And, she got paid to do it.

So, does that would make you the son of a fursuiter, and just how DOES that make you feel? If you need an answer from the inside, you might want to check with her.

Stumped? For a short time she worked for manpower as the Kodak Bear in retail store demonstrations.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

anon,

Luke Ravenstahl is a nice Catholic boy. He'll never have it.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

jefg99,

Y'know... it would have been real easy to moderate this comment right out of existence. In fact, this whole thread is borderline. Anyway, the truth will out.

At least she got paid to do it. It could be worse.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Merge,

Luke wouldn't go for it and that's why we need a mayor like Jerry Springer who understands the value of fur flying.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Springer

7:20 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

anon,

The world of politics suffered a great loss when Springer retired from public life. He was so loved in Cincinnati that he ascended to the mayor's office AFTER getting caught soliciting a cathouse with a personal check. But I guess that our loss is American culture's gain.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even CMU is getting in on the the transgender/ transpecies act and they got all these hot asian girls too. The new mascot is sure to set them on the wrong road that will lead to the San Fernando Valley!!

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/search/p_123579.html

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, for not explaining what the valley is. About 90% of the porn films shot in the US are produced and distributed by firms in the San Fernando Valley.

The kids smart enough to have CMU tech degrees should consider moving to NY or the Silicon valley. The one dumb enough to have gotten art degrees need to seek out oportunities in Silicone Valley.Give up, nobody cares about your art-- get a job in the valley or ask if Jeff Koons needs help with his work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVZyVq8IeBU

The link is to a non porn video but many wonderful films are available on request.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Anonymous,

Yes... please refrain from linking to porn videos on this blog.

Thank you.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just an FYI: Not all "Furries" are "Fursuiters". The latter refers specifically to people who enjoy the costuming side of the fandom. To help see the difference, you can take a look at attendance numbers from recent conventions. Anthrocon 2007 had ~2,800 attendees, but the Fursuit Parade (the largest single fursuitting event) had about 350 costumes involved.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

anon,

Thanks for your input. The distinction is hereby noted!

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes,

Thanks Anonymous. I have no knowledge of this culture at all and am really just here to spew hate. Times are getting tough and I really think Jews and blacks have been blamed enough so these furry dudes look like easy targets. Can't pull a real tiger's tail.

Hey Anonymous, how can I join the crusade against Scientology with you?

2:26 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Hmm... I wasn't aware I was "spewing hate" in this post.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, that was my role Merge.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slorc wants to assure everyone that the recent cyclone in Myanmar has not effected the child sex trade or damaged the poppy crop.Welcome furries, Burma is still a paradise!

1:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only idiots hate furries.

2:19 AM  
Anonymous Artiewhitefox said...

Biblically the pervert perverts truth to get people to war against people. look up the words pervert, perverted perversion perverseness in the KJV. You will see that the word does not refer to a sexual activity. Satan is that word being sexless. Satan is death and all bad things. People that are perverted in their language and judgment will cause people to hate making people do abominable acts. One of which is the spilling of innocent blood to defile their hands with blood having a defiled soul defiling themselves with what is spoken with their mouth. Those words are described biblically to be naughty good for nothing words as worthless as a rotten figs. The furry, nudist and zoosexual are not connected to those words at all.

12:19 PM  

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