While the furry fandom can be a wonderful place and a force for good in the world, the topics that tend to circulate on Furry Twitter are somewhat seasonal: They repeat every so often–usually sparked by someone saying or doing something shitty–and never actually lead to a productive result.
Let’s look at a few of these reoccurring topics and suggest actual solutions, rather than reactionary hot takes that only add fuel to an already out-of-control fire.
Safe Spaces for Underage Furries
Once upon a time, there was a movement called Burned Furs: A right-wing puritanical effort to rid the early furry fandom of its adult side. If you take the time to read about these clowns, you’ll hear a lot of the same arguments that alt-right trolls make today, except now they use the word “degenerate” to describe anything vaguely LGBTQ+.
As a result, most adult furries are generally wary of the creation of a “safe space” for strictly-SFW furry content, because it always gets co-opted by homophobes and the “sex is evil” variety of bigot. There’s also the concern that if you put all of the minors in one place, it will inevitably become a flytrap for creeps looking for their next victim.
There absolutely should be room for furries–of any age (asexual folks are valid too)–that only serves work-safe (i.e. non-sexualized) content. However, these spaces should be curated by people with a generally sex-positive mindset.
Why Should Sex-Positive Adults Moderate Non-Sexualized Spaces?
Let’s learn from history, please, so as to not repeat its follies.
If the horror known as conversion therapy has proven nothing else, it’s that telling LGBTQ+ kids that sex is evil is only going to lead to misery and suicide.
(No, I’m not pulling punches on this one. Religious nuts just love to drive queer people to suicide, and only 20% to 25% of furries are heterosexual.)
Nature abhors a vacuum. If you don’t step in, someone else will. If someone else is incentivized to do so, they probably won’t have the kids’ best interests in mind. Neither anti-sex puritans nor would-be sexual predators should be given access, let alone influence.
Neither should right-wing extremists, such as “alt-furry” (a movement of imbeciles who follow someone’s fursona named “Foxler”–literally “Fox Hitler”–yet try to insist they aren’t Nazis; yeah right).
What Should Be Done?
First, accept that a lot of furries are underage and shouldn’t be exposed to adult content–even if for no other reason than legal risk. (If anyone objects to that, you should feel very concerned about being alone with them.) Furthermore, there are some adults that don’t want to be exposed to NSFW content either.
Being sex-positive isn’t the same thing as being horny. Sex-positivity requires an understanding and respect for consent and boundaries. If someone doesn’t want to see your lewd art or photos, don’t go out of your way to make sure they see it (i.e. sending it to them directly).
Have an After Dark social media account for 18+ users? Block minors that try to follow you (and consider making your account private then screening your follow requests to filter out minors).
However, I don’t think we necessarily need a separate “label” for SFW furry content. Labels make you more susceptible to being coopted by perverse motives.
Worksafe furry groups on Signal/WhatsApp/Telegram/Discord/etc. are all valid.
If you’re underage and yearn for a SFW space for your furry fandom participation, talking to Moms of Furries is probably the best way to get started. Unlike random furries, their entire schtick is “make the fandom easier for parents to understand, and safer for their kids to play in”.
The threat model is complicated, the lines are blurred, and there’s a lot of shades of gray, but ultimately just letting people have worksafe spaces in the fandom is a good thing.
Just don’t let anyone try to convince the folks in those spaces that people who do enjoy the adult side of the fandom are bad and deserve to be shunned. That’s the anti-sex puritan bullshit I’ve talked about.
Murrsuits / Pup Hoods / etc.
Like clockwork, a pocket of furries (usually the same agitators mentioned in the previous section) will surface with some sort of hatred/shaming towards murrsuits, pup hoods, and other harmless sources of fun and self-expression.
(A murrsuit, by the way, is a fursuit that’s specifically intended for use in sexual encounters, and usually has extra zippers for the wearer’s privates.)
The exact nature of their outrage changes with the season. Some folks (like the dumb narcissistic troll who once created a database of murrsuit owners) make unsubstantiated claims about health/cleanliness with sexual fluids and murrsuits.
Others are lazy, and make general hand-wavy statements that strike a moral chord with most people, but don’t actually make sense when you think about them for very long. Their structure looks like this:
- If some people have sex in their fursuits, then fursuits are sex toys.
- You shouldn’t have sex toys around kids!
This is a lazy attempt to manipulate the listener, for two reasons:
- If some people have sex in their fursuits, that doesn’t actually make fursuits sex toys– and even if it somehow did, it still doesn’t make it so for people who don’t have sex in their fursuits.
- Lots of people have sex while wearing clothing. Wouldn’t the same logic applied to fursuits apply here too? And if so, are you arguing for everyone being naked around children? I sure fucking hope not.
Similar arguments are often raised about pup hoods, because of their apparent BDSM/kink connotations.
If they’re being worn in a non-lewd, tasteful manner (i.e. nobody’s genitals are being exposed, there’s no visible “bondage”, etc.), there’s nothing special about the anti-pup hood arguments. Same shit, different day.
What Should Be Done?
Simple: People really need to get over their fear of sex.
When you see someone trying to shame another adult for having a sexuality, tell them to fuck off and leave the other person alone.
People with healthy sex lives don’t owe you anything, except a baseline for hygiene that literally every murrsuiter I know already exceeds without ever having to be told. There’s no action item here.
They aren’t welcome; get the fuck out! I don’t care how their victims are classified: You aren’t allowed to be a part of our fandom if you perpetrate or support sexual abuse.
Underage, non-human, whatever. Leave.
Sexual abuse isn’t actually part of the Discourse we’re examining. Call those fuckers out and don’t let them back in. You’re doing good work by cleaning house.
Sometimes, you’ll come across a furry who decries the fact that their sexual abuser friends got “cancelled” by “cancel culture” and “social justice warriors”. These putzes ought to be loaded into a rocket and fired into the sun too.
Also: Kero the Wolf is guilty and people who still believe his innocence, or attempt to downplay the severity of his heinous acts, are doing a disservice to the entire fandom. (Or they’re also animal abusers, in which case, they can get yeeted too.)
There is a very stark difference between babyfurs (people who mix AB/DL with furry) and pedophiles.
The former is a harmless kink that involves adults roleplaying.
The latter is a sexual disorder that leads to the victimization of children.
Whenever babyfurs come up in the Furry Twitter Discourse, what’s really happening is the anti-sex crowd is trying to hope you won’t realize these are two very different ideas, and that your well-deserved disgust for one will automatically translate into hatred for the other.
Don’t be fooled.
(Hey, it’s not my thing either, but if it’s safe and between consenting adults, who the fuck are either of us to judge?)
Feral Art and Characters
Some artists have feral art styles (i.e. standing on four legs rather than two; no thumbs).
Feral characters with human sentience are still furry, even if you can superficially relate feral furry art to the kind of content that animal abusers might seek.
As always, there’s a reasonable litmus test available for judging this kind of content:
Note: The Harkness Test wasn’t created by an academic institution and there is no peer-reviewed pedigree behind it, but it’s sufficient for our purposes. If you don’t like it, design a better one and get it peer-reviewed. Until then, we can continue to phone it in with the Harkness Test and not make perfect the enemy of good.
Neither pedophile (“cub”) nor bestiality/zoophilia art are okay, because they normalize sexual abuse. Cub art in particular is bad, because it has used by perpetrators to groom people into participating (usually as a victim, but sometimes as a co-conspirator).
Ban cub art. Ban artistic depictions of zoophilia.
But don’t extend the bans to encompass babyfur art (which is AB/DL, not underage characters) nor feral art (which is an art style, not actual animals being portrayed).
If you cannot distinguish cub from babyfur, you shouldn’t be leading any moral crusades on social media or cancelling people, because you’re going to inevitably harm a lot of innocent people if you do.
Same goes for feral/zoo.
What About Pokemon Fursonas (Pokesonas)?
Some furries argue that Pokemon-based fursonas–and any art thereof–is inherently non-furry and therefore any lewd art of their characters is gross and problematic. This warrants a closer look.
Many Pokemon are clearly at, or above, human intelligence (i.e. the psychic types). Furthermore, the fact that Meowth from the anime learned human speech and can directly translate what other Pokemon are saying implies that it is possible to communicate affirmative consent, in the framework of established lore.
Speaking of which: the canon lore for the Pokemon franchise confirms the existence of human-Pokemon marriage (source).
When you combine these observations, it’s pretty clear that Pokemon are generally capable the Harkness test, so these “Pokemon yiff is zoophilia” takes are either arguing for a special case (i.e. either a specific species of Pokemon lacks the sentience that the rest seem to, or the characters involved are violating boundaries), or they’re intentionally engaging in social manipulation to push an agenda.
Also, they’re fictitious creatures. Splitting hairs over this is really petty compared to the harm real people inflict on real animals.
The NSFW Feral Art Acceptability Matrix
If you’re in doubt about whether a piece of NSFW art passes the Harkness test, consult the following table (while being pessimistic; if you can’t tell whether a character is a feral fursona or a dumb animal, always assume the worst):
* It might pass the test but it’s still kinda weird for humans to be depicting it in art. Be very careful that you’re not producing material that inadvertently promotes sexual abuse and/or aids groomers.
I’ve actually gotten a lot of grief from two camps over this section of the post.
One camp wants all feral art to be banned because of a “slippery slope” fallacy, and they believe my argument here doesn’t go far enough.
The other wants all feral art to be allowed because they believe “people can distinguish between fantasy and reality”, and believes my argument goes too far.
People who dig their heels in on extreme, opposite positions will never be made to agree. Neither this blog post nor a painstakingly-researched scientific study will sway their minds, and I have no desire to even try.
I am neither a puritanical moral crusader nor an apologist for sexual abuse. If you are, know now that I will not amend this post to further your agenda.
Consent is what ultimately matters, and since animals and children cannot consent, all art portraying either sexually is harmful.
But if the art doesn’t portray animals or children, it’s fair game (even if you or I personally dislike it). There are much bigger fish to fry than a (largely) harmless fantasy; what are your priorities?
Before I started this blog, I used to write articles on Medium. My most popular one tackled the topic of “popufurs” directly. Go read it.
If you’ve read this far, consider yourself fully briefed on the recurring topics in Furry Twitter discourse.
If another topic starts rearing its head often enough, I’ll either update this page or write a sequel article to cover the new badness.