I learned a new word, it isn't a nice word. That word is "furfag." There are so many things wrong with this word that it really is hard to know where to start. The academic in me races ahead first, with a five thousand word paper suggesting itself even before the rest of me has had a chance to catch up. However the very shape of the word is enough to register a few obvious objections.
To give the academic her moment: start with the figure of the shaman, of human, animal masks and rituals. Point out the undercurrent of animalization of human sexuality in the present, we even call it animal magnetism. Show that mainstream publications like Playboy participate in selling the "furry fantasy." Show how the ostracizing of Furries follows the familiar pattern of taking something which is prevalent in mainstream society but taboo and barely repressed, linking it to clearly transgressive behavior, and then finding a target which evokes some level of obvious visual difference so obvious that even someone whose idea of foreplay is "hope on the pose ball sis," can recognize it.
Close by talking about how the furry community, because it is shrinking, because it is not empowered in sl, because it can be accused of bestiality which is not in fact the furry community as its home base makes a perfect target. Close by an examination of the actual members of the furry and tiny community, and state that it is clear that bigotry and racism, in the absence of established targets, will create new ones.
Draw appropriate references to racial minorities and legally sanctioned harassment, demonstrate hypocrisy by showing similar or higher levels of transgressive behavior in accepted communities, make the appropriate genuflections in the direction of the correct authors and of course.
Footnote. Footnote. Footnote.
There, an afternoon wasted writing a brilliant (see also: obscure, hard to read) gem of analysis (see also: how to make even orgasm sound dull) that no one will read, because anyone who would can tell just by reading this. Alright the shaman section tracing animal headed costumes and deities would at least have illustrations and would get people's attention.
Maybe I will write the shaman part, it is at least interesting in concept.
But the key engine of the problem is the conflation of an rl bigotry, that is the absurd hatred of rl homosexuality, with an science fiction fan sub-sub-culture, furry, with the extreme transgressive act, bestiality. These are three different pieces, they do not have real points of contact in practice, but instead are designed to make people have the gag reflex repeatedly, until, so overwhelmed by the last revolting image, they are willing to do anything to their rights and civilization just to prevent anyone from ever engaging in anything remotely resembling it. Having been given a target, they start learning that age old chant "Burn witch, burn!" Or learning to tie knots, or whatever their society's proclivities are for socially sanctioned massacre and abuse.
But let me talk about my own experiences with the three pieces, and why I see them as completely disconnected, and the social construction of "furry as gay bestiality" is such complete nonsense.
Gay men on SL, unlike lesbianism, real, fantasy or simply from lack of supply, is not very visible. While there are prominent sl'ers who are homosexual, and many heterosexual men come to sl to work through bisexual or homosexual fantasies, over all, gay clubs, gay culture and gay sensibility have been lacking in sl. I think this has an effect on male fashions, because rl, it is gay men who are a large part of fashion design, taste making, and style breaking. I had never met a gay man who uses furry as his secondary avatar. I went here to find if there were any, and found a mall with a camping pod. A far cry from Transsexual haven or Bondage Sex Dungeon, which have people doing what they do at every hour of the day or night.
I did find an issue of "anthrogasm magazine" which was a gay issue. It had a profile and an extended stories, starting with a gay horse porn story with copious pictures. The only ads, noteably, were heterosexually targeted. And while the fur flies, it is all anthropomorphic fur, eve if the phalluses were sometimes animal in shape. And the heterosexual male community on SL has no right to complain about cocks not exactly being to realistic shape, color and proportion.
Furry can be divided into to areas, tiny and furry. It is not that people wearing furry or tiny are non-sexual. In fact, many of them are more stable in their relationships than are human shaped avatars, and more cautious in who they expend their affection on. I've never met a member of either community that has made actual bestiality the focus of their sexuality. Instead, what is sexual about furry, as opposed to tiny, is the shamanistic reality of wanting to take on the characteristics of an admired animal: in the case of Playboy Bunnies, the sexual characteristics of rabbits. The line between "neko" and "furry" is the replacement of the face.
Both are relatively heterosexualized groups. People do furry because they want either to desexualize their presentation, the teddy bear effect, or because they want the tactile sense of fur or feathers, or the spiritual traits of animals. Or often all three.
Facial replacement is the hallmark of the shamanistic: the combining of sexual responsiveness with an animal goes back to the lost mists of astrological creation. The myth of Taurus has been overlaid with Zeus taking Europa, the goddess for which the continent of Europe is named. If you want to know how embedded the mixing of sex and animality is, look at the sky, or a map. We have a continent named after the results of bestiality.
But such replacement, as with the Egyptian gods who were animal headed, represents, not the desire to couple with an animal, but the desire to be at one with spirits, and the spirit world. Even of those are tartaric spirits.
So let us talk about the third leg of the triad: bestiality. Clinically, bestiality in the sense of penetration with an animal penis, or penetrating an animal vagina, is not a cosmopolitan practice, but a rural one. It is generally illegal directly or indirectly, but clinicians are advised against being heavily judgmental, simply because it is often the results of extreme isolation from farming, the military or other similar situations.
In second life. Frankly, the people taking sensational pictures haven't had to deal with bestiality on a professional level, and have no idea who requests it. While there is overlap with what can be called the "fantasy," as in the literary genre, the requests I have had for bestial activities have come from human, straight men. Let me repeat that: human straight men are the ones who want to see women get it on with dogs and horses.
The reason for this is really simple. In SL bestiality is the next level of transgression, and many, many, many straight men want to see women who want to be penetrated so much that they will be penetrated by anything. Bestiality trumps just about anything for transgressive need to be penetrated. This is in our culture. Think about what being "boned" means. Humans don't have a baculum or baubellum usually. Nor do horses for that matter, but many of our close relatives do. If someone is getting boned, it probably isn't by a person.
So this is the reality of it, the bigot impulse is targeting a small, relatively politically weak group, and furries are that, by conjoining them with two traits they do not have: male homosexuality and bestiality. All three of the traits are present in human culture, society and myth for thousands of years, as Greek, Egyptian, Sumerian and Hindu mythology all attest to. I am thinking of the entrance way to a major American Art Museum that has an statue of Ganesh, complete with penis, being straddled by one of his consorts. If Furry is "broadly offensive," then we need to shut down just about every collection of antiquities in every major art museum in the world.
So there you have it, the attempt to demonize a weak subgroup, one which can be slurred with activities that don't fit the sub-culture, but which are very present taboos in the main culture, is being wrought again. I know from my own professional experience who the bestiality seekers are. As a professional, I supply whatever legal and not bannable desires my clients have, regardless of whether they are my needs, because that is what I am here for.
However, it is quite another thing to have people attacked and abused because they make the taboo desires present in our culture too visible for the comfort of some who, in all likelihood, are more than touched by them. So when people start griefing the Playboy club, and there is a move by LL to shut down the world's largest purveyor of furry fantasy, I will believe there is some principle at work. Since I don't believe that is ever going to happen, or should it even be considered, it is time to be realistic, and realize that this is a case of the people who crash social communities, whether sl or wikipedia, by using an endless hoard of throw away accounts to grief targets that they can rationalize in public as being transgressive, and therefore acceptable, even meritorious, targets.
We are here to work out our fantasies, and if people need these, then that is what they need. And if there is some hypocritical attempt to pseudo-Disnify SL, I have a pretty cageful of examples as to how that just is not so. Let us be honest, more disruption and problems, probably even rl acts of violence, will be caused by infidelity, which is sl's national pastime, than by all of the extreme acts on sl. It's true rl, that ordinary relationships cause far more of the damage, than all of the fetishes combined.
If you want to make rl safe, then end infidelity. I wish anyone who tries this project more than luck, since it will take more than luck to do it.