Furry (IARP, 2016), they identify themselves as furries due

Furry Fandom (FF): a leash of self-image and social
discrimination against minority groups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        As society grows, opinions
will differ as our society is integrated based on different perspectives,
mindsets, and cultures which differs from one another (Anthony., 1997, P.2).
However, sometimes people would extremize their exhibition of their repulsive
behavior, or “social control” against minority groups (Lamm &
Schaefer, 1998. P.185-186), which the Furry Fandom is an example. In Foreign
countries, the Furry Fandom is stigmatized as a group which most favored
activity is engaging in sexual intercourse, having erotic fantasies on
anthropomorphized animals, and people who express their love towards their
“Fursonas” all in body-sized animal “fursuits” (Jeansonne.,
2012, P. 64). Due to these negative stereotypes, the Furry Fandom is
discriminated, prejudiced, and disdained by the general public. However, the Furry Fandom has an increasing participant amount over the years
especially in the US and other Western countries when more people have claimed that being a furry as their
self-acceptance and their self-realization (IARP, 2016). But as the negativity
of the society against them is rather strong, they tend to question their
self-image of being a furry is doubted, or in the most extreme cases, turning
suicidal (Patten, 2017, P.121). This
expository essay will first introduce the definition of a furry, how
adolescents gain their self-image and self-realization as a furry, and how the
society discriminates against them for their deviance from the general public,
in addition of the negative effects in which internet and multimedia have caused.

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Definition of a “Furry”

      As Michael (2013) has
defined, a “Furry” is a person who views themselves as a feral animal than a human. (p.4)
while Jeansonne (2012) defines
a furry as someone who has a passion and enthusiasm
for being an anthropomorphic animal. (p.2).

I. The process of a
person discovering their self-image and realization into a furry

     Pursuing Self-Image

     The
first reason of a person transforming into part of the furry fandom is the pursuit of their own self-image and
self-realization. The definition of Self-image is to
visualize yourself into an object or entity which the person desire to be,
which mainly occurs during the adolescent age by self-knowledge, which means
one’s knowledge on oneself (Myers,1996,
P.40-41). Furries are an excellent example for this as they usually are between
ages of 18 and 23 (IARP, 2016), they identify themselves as furries due to
pursuing and fulfilling their self-knowledge about their self-image, as stated
in another research, the “Fursona” they choose to become, which is their
ideal personalities (Jeanonne, 2012, P.XI) is
entirely based on internal decisions (IARP, 2016). Another research has stated
that the participants of the furry fandom has found their own self-image as one
due to influences such as Disney, Artwork, and Childhood influence in general
and will pursue it by participating conventions and exploring within (IARP,
2016). Such reasons are originated from the need of pursuing their self-image
and achieving self-realization

     The
Need To Socialize

     Secondly,
with the influence of peers, furries might need to
find acceptance in order to gain confidence and self-worth in order to further
develop their social skills as well as maintaining their social status. Therefore,
adolescents will try to discover interests that would make them gain their
social-comfort in order to fulfill their needs of socializing (Kathleen., Jill.
& Joseph, 2008). From the previous argument, adolescents discovered their
self-image as a furry but are not willing to express it for discrimination and
prejudice from the general public are prevalent and unavoidable (Sharon, 2015).
But by discovering compatible-minded people, these people can finally satisfy
their needs of socializing in more deviant and unorthodox communities (For example Furry Conventions, FurCon, SecondLife, etcetera.), instead of trying to be compatible
to the general public and attending local gatherings (IARP, 2016). Furthermore,
involvement in the Furry Fandom was found to be a resource for well-being,
neutralizing minority pressure and confronting a denounced recreation identity
(Steven, 2013). Furthermore, since they discovered like-minded people with
similarities in self-identification, they would produce an urge of escaping
from social discrimination and injustice against them, and therefore trying to
“escape from this world” (Michael, 2013, P.14-15). Such reasons are
all related to stimulating social comfort, and gaining self-confidence.

     Creating
one’s desired self

     A person could also achieve their
self-image and self-realization with the aid of acquiring their self-esteem and
self-character by participation in the furry fandom (IARP, 2016). When a Furry
enters the furry fandom, a new identity, which is a “Fursona”, would
be essential in order to communicate with other participants within (Jeanonne,
2012, P.30). Yet, many Fursonas reflect the creator’s personalities and many of
their personal traits as well for it would, like the previous argument has
mentioned, would promote the creator’s self-image and accomplish the desire of
certain actions and personalities such as being more adventurous, attractive,
energetic and confident or even being heterosexual or even homosexual (IARP,
2016). Therefore, through this process, a person might, from creating his
identity, into declaring himself to be a furry (Michael, 2013, P.18).

 

 

 

 

II. The Society’s Discrimination and Prejudice
Against the Furry Fandom

     The
harm of stereotyping

     Social stereotyping is one of the main
reasons the furry fandom meets social prejudice and hatred. Prejudice is
negative opinions against an entire category of people often having a racial or
religious minority, including the furry fandom, usually being stereotyped on
the basis of characteristics that distinguish from the general public such as
identity, race, or the community that person is in (Lamm. & Schaefer., 1998). Although there are
organizations that are working against discrimination, such as the Anti-Defamation
League, the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence, and so on (Lamm
& Schaefer, 1998, P.293-296), there is insufficient work that protects members of the Furry Fandom from being
heavily discriminated due to stereotypes. In the CSI episode of “Fur and
Loathing” broadcasted in 2012, furries are stereotyped as a group that is primarily interested in fetishistic
intercourse, which is until now, remained as a hotly-debated topic (Heidi, 2012,
P.317). Although stereotypes have
scorched the furry fandom as fetish-lovers, the fact that a Fursuit is so
expensive that the owners would not damage it by having intercourse in it, and
most participants are not even interested in the sensual side of the fandom has
remained as the truth (Heidi, 2012, P.318). Yet, the general public chose to
ignore the facts and instead, to embrace the stereotypes which lead to the
negative impression, and at last, turning into discrimination.

     The urge of having a deviance-free Society

     Deviance is a behavior that conflicts the
standards of a certain group or expectations of a group in society or a
person’s behavior which is different from conventional or standard social
values (Wickman, 1991, P.85-87), for example, alcoholics, tattooed people,
addicted gamblers, or even being late for class are all classified as deviance
(Schaefer. & Lamm., 1998, P. 191). Due
to furries have different values from the public, usually worsened by media
which emphasize repulsive and unorthodox behaviors, the public has negative stereotypes and usually portraits
furries as mischief-makers and deviants (Jakob, 2015, P.24), eventually
evolving into criticism and finally, discrimination for the public’s pressure
to create a “deviance-free” society.

     The Nature of Internet worsened the hatred and
negativity

     After the millennial
age, the internet is the information
super-speed-highway and spreads information at an
exponentially tremendous rate that it doesn’t combine only computers,
but televisions and telephones as well. However, it doesn’t spread only
positive information, but it spreads negative information as well and it is
vulnerable in spreading the latter in a monumental rate (Anthony, 1998,
P.394-397). Applying to the case of the Furry Fandom, websites such as 4Chan,
which turned from an anime-appreciation website into a rendezvous of
internet-humor, online-intimidation, and website-assaults which are mainly
against the furry fandom (Jakob, 2015, P.32). With other websites like “AntiFurryCoalition.org”,
“GodHatesFurries.com” and many others spreading negative information
and kept discussing hatred and antagonism, establishing anti-furry campaigns
and material, as an increasing amount of people were influenced by them and
“followed the herd”. Therefore, furries were suffering from
discrimination due to the spread of information on
the Internet at a tremendous rate (Jeansonne, 2012, P.6).

Conclusion

     The
Furry Fandom is a subculture which is hotly debated by the public, due to it
having a strong deviance apart from popular culture. Although strongly
discriminated, many people still acquire their self-identity, image, and
realization due to influences from the young adolescent age, the need to
socialize and the desire to be what the person wishes to acquire. However, the
society still provides hatred due to stereotyping, people’s intolerance of deviance and the nature of the internet
worsened the phenomenon. However, discrimination does not only occur in the furry fandom, it occurs towards
almost everyone, like a person’s ethnicity, religion, or race. With an
increasing number of anti-discrimination campaigns mentioned above,
discrimination will be expected to vanish, and one might try to find more
methods to accomplish this objective.