The Big Contro-fur-sy


Elizabeth Pietras, Writer

Do you identify as a furry? Last month, the BFA daily announcements asked this controversial question, fueling an enduring and heated debate amidst the student body.

Tori Jessiman (‘21),  the student responsible for the idea of a BFA “Furry Club,” confesses that her only intentions were to find a community where people of her identity could be accepted.

“I wanted to start this [furry club] so that people could meet with other furries, and if you weren’t a furry you learn more about what it means to be a furry,” Jessiman said.

Instead, an influx of mockery and criticism through forms both verbal and digital ensued, thus, what was intended as a serious invitation soon became a comical joke. Though the club’s purpose was to provide the BFA furry population with a safer and more accepting environment, it appears to have resulted in one more hateful and hostile than before. Not sure what a furry is? Keep reading.

At BFA, furries are a minority, and thus a target for harassment. Camron Colston, the BFA Dean, addresses the two main reasons for such hostility.

“Part of [harassment] is being ignorant of other people’s views because they don’t match up with yours, and part of it’s just being cruel,” Colston said.  

The extent to which furries at BFA face harassment is so severe,  that many refused interviews for fear of their mental and physical safety. One student would only accept an interview on the terms that his name would not be disclosed to the public.

“People are not open to new things. It’s like homophobia for gays. People just don’t want to accept new things. It scares them,” Furry A said.

If Colston’s point is valid and a majority of hatred can be credited towards ignorance, then many readers are obligated to ask this one question: what is a furry?

Jessica Owens is a co-moderator for the Vermont Furs, a group which formed in Montpelier during the early 2000’s. They are a “family friendly” organization with members who range from age 11 – 43.

“For some being a furry is like having a spirit animal, others is a creative outlet,” Owens said.

“What it means to be furry varies from person to person, but one thing that most can agree on is a love for cartoon animals and creativity,” Owens said.

According to Furry A, the group that many call “furries” are actually two separate groups.

“Otherkin is where you see yourself as more an animal than anything else and furry is where you see yourself as an animal with human characteristics,” Furry A said.

Colston adds to Furry A’s claim, emphasizing the fact that the defintion of a furry is more than “fur-deep.”

“To some people in the furry club, it may just be a costume to them. It’s not who they are, but an expression of their personality, whereas other people are actually identifying as an animal,” Colston said.

Additionally the accessories popularly associated with furries (i.e. tails, ears, suits) are not worn by furries alone, but a variety of individuals due to personal preferences and styles.

“Just because you wear a tail and ears doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a furry. For instance there is someone at our school, I don’t know their name, but they always wear a big fluffy tail.  I asked them if they’re a furry and they said no. Some people just wear it because they think it looks good.” Jessiman said.

So then, do furries and otherkin consider their identities as a sexual preference? Social media has convinced society to think that they do.

Stereotyped as less innocent than they look by mainstream media, furries tend to get a bad rap. A 2001 Vanity Fair article brought up both bestiality and plushophilia (sexual attraction to stuffed animals), and defined furry fandom as “sex, religion and a whole new way of life.” The show Entourage presented a pink bunny fursuit as a sexual prop, and in CSI-episode Fur and Loathing in Las Vegas, furries are portrayed as fetishists mainly in it for the “yiff” – furry pornography or sex.

When furries are presented in the mainstream media, they’re portrayed as perverted criminals. An article written by the Daily News covers the gruesome tale of a boy who was allegedly forced to dress as ‘Tony the Tiger’ at Philadelphia fetish parties and sexually assaulted by several men, including one wearing a fox costume.

Due to their negative portrayal from the media, furries have become associated with vile acts such as pedophillia, beastility, sexual assault, and being raunchy sexual fetishists. Although not entirely false, they do not accurately represent the furry population as a whole, but rather a small percent.

All BFA furries who agreed to be interviewed denied any connection with their identity as a furry and their sexual orientation.

“[Identification] differs from person to person, but for me it is not sexual.” Furry A said.

“It’s more of a personality thing.” Jessiman said.

Regardless, as the stereotypes persist, so does harassment. Furry A has identified as a furry for roughly two to three years. He claims that the hardest part about identifying as a furry is “having to hide who I am in fear that I won’t be wanted.” In terms of harassment, he’s been bullied “multiple times. [He] wear[s] a tail and [is] constantly made fun of for it.”

Furry A has one wish for those who do not identify as furries.

“I wish people would treat me the same. They treat me as I’m an actual animal when I’m still just a human,” Furry A said. “We are very friendly and open, but we have started to close off because of bullying and mean people.”