How're you? Recently, I have had a difficult time with my sexuality. I have found that I don't just find women attractive, but [I am attracted to] my parent's older dog, Ozzy. I grew up with this dog, and it's bothering me. I went home for the holidays and found that I was getting erect from looking at Ozzy. I do not know how to deal with this issue. Do I need a release? Or should I seek psychiatric help? This has overall been a difficult and confusing time for me. What do you think? Have you ever had a similar issue or had someone write in with something similar?
Tiennan (age 23)
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Thank you for your letter. This is an important issue to many people in the fandom, as you might guess. For one thing, furries are often suspected of being all zoophiles (attracted to animals), which is simply untrue. However, there are a few zoophiles in the fandom just as there are in the general population. Zoophilia is rare, but you might find it occurring more often in a fandom that is based on an interest in animalistic characters (this should be unsurprising).
A great deal has been changing in the mental health profession community in recent years regarding attitudes toward paraphilias (atypical sexual interests and behaviors). The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is the official guide for diagnosing mental health problems, now distinguishes between "paraphilia" and "paraphilia disorders." This is important because it essentially says that just because you have a sexual interest that is not "normal" doesn't necessarily mean you have a problem.
When is a paraphilia such as zoophilia a problem, then? Well, as with addictions, a paraphilia becomes a problematic disorder when it has a negative impact on your job, school, or personal life. For example, going to a Vegas casino to gamble once in a while is not a problem; gambling away your life savings and ending up living in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass is.
So, as long as your attraction to dogs is not affecting you or those around you (especially if you keep this attraction platonic), you don't technically have a disorder.
Why, then, do some people (you're not the only one) have this attraction in the first place, you might ask? Psychologists are still debating this, but there are a few hypotheses. One is that some people are attracted by novelty--in this case, how a dog's penis differs anatomically from a human penis. Another possible reason is the attraction to the forbidden. People can be stimulated by the idea of something being "naughty" because it is unconventional and frowned upon. A third reason might be that a person has difficulty forming close relationships with people and therefore turns toward, in this case, a dog for intimacy. Among animals, dogs are ideal candidates because they are so sociable, friendly, sweet, loyal, and unthreatening. Still another way one can develop paraphilia is by conditioning. For example, a person might develop a foot fetish if they had one or more sexual experiences in which erotic foot play was involved. Over time, they might become focused on feet, causing their arousal, because they associate feet with sex.
Any of the above might be a cause for your interest in dogs in some way. Since I am not a psychologist, it could, indeed, be a good step for you to speak to a professional about your concerns. They might be able to dig deeper and help you discover why you are having these feelings.
I hope this was helpful.
I’m an artist. During the course of my yet short career I’ve naturally been making friends (or co-existing in friendly terms, with most) with other artists and clients and it has been excellent so far. However, a few days ago I was made aware of a rather difficult situation that has been making rounds in my head ever since.
Turns out one of these persons has covered up and remains friends with someone who was outed as a child groomer some time ago, and doing something about it wouldn’t pose a problem for me if it weren’t for the fact that said person (the one who’s friends with the predator) lives an incredibly active social life and is also friends with the vast majority of artists and clients I’m also friends with.
I know some of them are aware of this fact, while some others aren’t. The whole group of people goes around connecting with tons and tons of people in different artist owned servers, including mine, so it’s really weird to look at them and have to suspect everyone all of a sudden.
I don’t know what to do about this. I don’t want to be the reason a lot of these people end up fighting each other. I don’t even know if it’s something I should meddle with to begin with. They’ve been friends with each other for far longer than I have. I’ve only known them since this past year and I feel like a complete outsider to the overall group and the whole situation.
I’m not a really big artist. I know that if I spoke up I would probably be eaten alive and that I don’t stand a chance against a group as big as this in my current state, including that I would probably lose a lot of friends in the process. I know they have harassed people in the past because of stuff like this. It’s scary to think that most of my support would completely disappear if I make the wrong move, especially considering that being from a third world country with an ever dying economy, making art on the internet is my only chance of living a slightly better life.
Furthermore, I have plans of moving countries in the future. I'm incredibly scared of the criminality rate of my current place and many people are murdered just in my city alone each year, so I'd go as far as to think my physical health is in danger if I don't move out quickly and art is the thing that will help me on that.
My question is, if someone knows that something around them is bad but doesn't have the power to do anything about it, does that make them equally as bad? I don’t like the idea of allowing these people to keep existing in my space but, is it valid when it’s for the sake of keeping a low profile for self preservation?
I would love to have your opinion on this matter, and I deeply appreciate your time. Thank you.
Anonymous (age 23)
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Interesting question. I assume that by "child" you mean someone who is not of legal age to consent to sex. So, first of all, this is, of course, illegal if we are talking actual sex. Now, you are from outside the USA, apparently, but I don't know where the other parties are. Are they in the United States? If this is criminal behavior outside your own country, it's rather difficult to report.
Another thing to consider is evidence. Is there any solid evidence for what is being claimed or is it just internet chatter? There is a lot of posting on social websites that is complete and utter baloney, and you don't want to contribute to that rumor mill. I'm looking at posts you shared with me on Twitter [not shared here], and even the person making the accusations is using words like "allegedly." I'm also reading these tweets, one of them saying the minor is 17 versus the groomer being 27. Seventeen (and 16), actually, is legal age in 41 of the states in the USA, with 18 being the age of consent in the other nine states. So, if all parties concerned are in one of the 41 states, it's really not a crime.
As for "grooming," it sounds as if the older person is supplying the younger person with pornographic images to try and get them aroused. It is illegal in the USA to show minors pornography, and by "minor," we are again dealing with different laws in different states. So, again, if they aren't in one of those 9 states, it's not illegal. What WOULD be illegal in ALL 50 states would be to have the young person, who is under 18, pose for naked photos or be in a porno film.
So, you see, this can be complicated. As for you making posts about it on, say, art social groups on the internet, I'd say that's unnecessary. Someone other than you has already, clearly, posted a lot about this. There is no obligation to you to warn people and, honestly, it's kind of none of your business. Also, as you said, your posting about it would not help the matter in any way. And, no, you are not a bad person for not raising a flag. You are not the Police of the World's Bad Behavior.
I'm glad you sent me this query as it highlights a problem I see all the time online: People think that it is their job to condemn people vocally on the internet whenever someone does something they consider bad or questionable. The reason this is a problem is that most of the time people are making accusations based on assumptions, rumors, gossip, and opinion, and when you participate in the rumor mill, the result can be the destruction of an innocent person's reputation--or worse. Furthermore, if you are proven wrong, you end up destroying your own respectability and looking like a fool.
Do yourself a favor and stay out of the public forum of dirty laundry. If someone has, indeed, done something immoral or criminal, believe me, people will find out without your help. Now, if someone does something to YOU that is criminal, you obviously should report it to the authorities. That's a no-brainer. Or, if they are simply being an asshole to you, the solution is to cut them out of your life, forget about them, and move on. And if a friend of yours is being hurt, you should go to them in private and offer them your support.
The internet has become a dung heap of trash-talk and lies. Don't become one of the flies attracted by the stench.
My brother (17) found the Furry Fandom last year, and my dad was fine with it, and my mom is kinda freaked out by it, and she has told me this but not my brother. I, on the other hand, have always been an advocate for how great and positive the Furry Fandom is and my brother has been really happy for that. My brother loved the Fandom so much I actually owe it to him that I became a Furry because I wanted to see what exactly about it made it so great. Looking back, I think the signs have always been there, and it feels nice to find a place I feel like I belong.
Now here's where my problem is I'm really embarrassed to tell my brother I'm a Furry because he might think I'm just trying to copy him or trying to make fun of him or that I'm ruining something special to him. I do want to tell him, though, because I feel like there is a lot of good memories we can make together doing something we both love.
So here is my question: How do I tell my brother I'm a Furry, especially since I don't want to hurt my relationship with him or my mom if she finds out, too? Anyway, thanks so much for your time and would be very grateful if you could help.
Logan (age 15)
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Gosh, I would think your brother would be very happy that his sibling is also a furry and that they could share their furry experiences together. Why would you think otherwise? Are there instances in the past where he thought you were trying to imitate him? Younger siblings sometimes do have a rivalry. When I was little, I would follow my older sister around and try to do stuff with her, which kind of irritated her. She is three years older than I am. Your brother is two years older, which isn't a huge difference, but in the teen years it can seem like it.
I don't know your brother, obviously, but most furries are excited to have a family member who is also a furry and understands why they love it. I would go ahead and tell him. IMHO it should be a bonding experience between the two of you, and will likely become even more so as you get older.
Let me know how it goes.
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I did it. I told my brother I was a furry, and I didn't make a big deal out of it, so neither did he. I am a little bit of an artist, so I offered to do some art for him, and he was pretty happy.
Thank you so much for your advice. It really helped me work up the courage to tell him.
I am in my mid-twenties. How can I gain confidence? I doubt myself a lot and always fear the worst like failing. That I'll fail everything that I'll do. I've been noticing that I have ADHD-like symptoms for 4 years. I don't even have a driver's license. Fearing that the worst will happen due to these symptoms, it makes other things hard too. Many people have told me to believe in myself. What can I do?
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"Believe in yourself" is easier to say than to do. It's a cop-out phrase used by friends and family who don't know how to help you. Well-intentioned, but useless. So, okay, you should believe in yourself, of course, but you can't just snap your fingers and, to quote Captain Picard, make it so. How to proceed?
There are several factors involved that cause us to doubt ourselves:
The first thing you need to do is rid yourself of the burden of meeting other people's expectations of what is "success" and what is "failure." If you think that "success" is making lots of money and having lots of material possessions, for example, then you can often feel like a failure if you don't make money and buy expensive things. But, if you feel that "success" is being a kind, giving, and GOOD person who pursues their own dreams, you might find yourself becoming a success very quickly.
Next point: Don't avoid failure, embrace it. EVERYONE fails at least some of the time. I have experienced many failures myself. Hey, even people like Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, and Bill Gates have experienced failures. Failures are not as bad as they sound because they are learning experiences. For example, one time I tried to apply to a university's creative writing program. I submitted fiction samples to them and was roundly rejected. Reexamining what I sent, I realized that my writing was pretentious crap. I learned from that and am a much better writer now. Another example: my novel (only wrote one so far) was rejected 100 times before a publisher accepted it. (Oh, and in the process, I discovered I am a very good nonfiction writer). Just keep trying. Hey, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind was rejected 40 times. Stephen King's early work was rejected hundreds of times before he published Carrie.
Failure is a learning experience. Do not fear it. Expect it and learn from it. Same with rejection. You WILL experience rejection many times before you find acceptance. Once you get rid of the fears of failure and rejection, you can move forward. You do that by substituting expectation for anticipation. Anticipation is much more anxiety-inducing than expectation.
In summary, to build self-confidence you must:
I hope that helps.
How do I stop the oncoming flow of hate towards the furry fandom? I hate how I'm persecuted for wanting to wear a costume. I understand that yes, there is a bad side to the fandom, but that's not the whole thing. Take Indigo_Raptor, for instance. They were so young, and yet they supposedly killed themselves because of hate. I really don't like how everyone stereotypes furries as 'The fandom that f*ks cheese graters and dogs for fun." And the people who bark at me in the school hallways--my fursona isn't even a dog; Neon's a cat! And if I'm a furry, and I don't go around barking at people, how come they do? We as furries have given the rest of the world more than enough reason to at least accept us if not love us.
How do I stop this? Is it even possible?
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(Note: I could not reply to you via email because you used a school email server, which blocks emails from unknown sources like this one, so I hope you see this on my website.)
Furries such as yourself all make the same mistake in thinking that normies are specifically targeting the furry fandom with their behavior towards its members. Actually, what you and others are experiencing is one facet of a phenomenon with humans: social predation. This is the characteristic in society in which those at the top of a hierarchy (the "top dogs," shall we say) and other members below who follow said hierarchy attack those at the bottom or outside the accepted norms in order to keep the status quo intact.
You see this kind of behavior in other animals, too, not just humans. Wolves, as most know, have their alphas and betas keeping the omegas in line; monkey troops actually go to war with other troops they feel are impinging on their territory; animals ranging from pronghorn sheep to elephants have been seen expressing bullying behavior, too. The higher an animal is in the hierarchy, the more aggressive it tends to be.
Humans behave just like the "lower animals" in this respect. In areas such as business and politics, of course, there is a clear hierarchy involving job titles and salaries and power. In the school, titles might not be formalized and complete with a salary, but they are still there in loose terms such as "that lunch table belongs to the popular kids, that one is for the jocks, nerds and geeks over there, and the losers sit outside on a bench."
Groups that adhere to social norms and that gain status through achievements (real or imagined) such as winning a championship game or wearing expensive and stylish clothes rise to the top of the hierarchy. Those who challenge the status quo by being different are filtered to the bottom of the glass. Such is the fate of furries because we aren't "normal."
But targeting furries per se is just an excuse. Anyone outside the "normal" range will be subject to violence and bullying. In the recent past, for example, such violence was directed at African Americans (and still is in many ways, but somewhat less so in schools now). People will also be targeted for their religion or nationality, as is seen in all the violence still going on today against Jews, Muslims (labeled as terrorists), Sikhs (often mistaken as Muslims because haters are stupid), LGBTQIA people, the handicapable, and more.
Bullies and haters are violent and nasty not just to keep the outsiders out, but also because this behavior reinforces the status quo hierarchy and creates a social bond (however unpleasant) with a group's leaders and all their toadies.
So, when you ask, "How do I stop furry haters?" you are asking the wrong question because you don't stop them. They are a part of social behavior in humans that will always be there, and you will be attacked for anything you might be or do that is considered "not normal."
Before I continue, it is important to note that if bullying becomes violent or dangerous in any way, you need to report it to your school administration and, possibly, local authorities if it gets really bad. There are laws against bullying (go to https://www.stopbullying.gov/ for more information on that).
When it comes to annoying teasing behavior, there are a couple of strategies you can pursue:
Whatever strategy you try--or maybe you have one of your own--the important thing is to not show any weakness. As Nick Wilde explained to Judy Hopps, you should never let them see that they got to you. Don't give them that power.
Will this stop the bullying? Maybe, maybe not. As noted above, you can't really completely stop it, but you can sure keep it from bothering you.
Remember, it's not about your being a furry; it's about them using bullying to maintain their social status. Is that pathetic? Yes, yes it is. And you don't have to buy into their pathetic displays of insecurity.
Hope that helps,
What age generally do you have to be to go to a furry convention? Is there a set age or what exactly?
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Every convention I know of has an age policy. A typical one would be that if you are under 16 years of age you must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian; if you are 16 or 17, you must have signed approval from a parent or guardian; if you are 18 and older, you're good to go. Sin City Murr Con in Las Vegas is, obviously, for 18 and older ONLY because of its very adult nature.
That is in the United States. Other countries are different. For example, I am led to understand that UK conventions do not allow minors at all. Same with Eurofurence in Germany and Furdu in Australia--you have to be 18. Asia cons can vary, I believe. For example, Furs Upon Malaysa allows furries as young as 13 to attend, but 13 to 17 year old furries must have an adult with them.
Anyway, you're likely only interest in U.S. cons, so short answer is you will need a parent to come with you. If you aren't sure, just visit the furcon's webpage and they will have the age policies posted there.
I have noticed that over the years I have been rather emotionally dead inside. It seems I need strong stimulus to feel a little compassion towards others outside of myself. But this does not mean I am selfish per se. I seem caring on the outside. I am friendly with my friends I hang out with. I do chores for Mom as she has to go to work in the morning and I am home during the day. I hug her. I say I love her, but I never really feel it. When she would get home, she would have dinner and then sit on the couch [with] her iPad watching the news and relaxing while I was on the computer. I would occasionally spend some time with her on the couch, but I never really felt a connection with her doing that. Also, my intrusive thoughts would constantly make me feel bad and not happy. Too negative. Honestly, at night they make me want to commit suicide sometimes.
Sometimes I would just write my thoughts down on paper. Whatever thought popped into my head I would write down, and it is always very negative stuff.
Another example is the Thousand Oaks shooting. I was attending Moorpark College when it happened. However, since I only recently moved there, I never formed any real ties to the local area. Point is, after it happened one of our teachers talked to each of us individually in case we needed to talk to someone about what just happened. I personally never really felt anything towards the victims. I more or less went about [my business] as if nothing really happened. So when the teacher talked to me, I was rather nonchalant and did not seem very upset whatsoever. Later, I received an email asking me to [see] the Moorpark counselor. I did not understand why at the time, but looking back I think my teacher talked to someone about my lack of emotion. I went to see the counselor, but since I was perfectly fine that day, I was in and out in 5 minutes. Nothing wrong whatsoever. (Note, I was recently diagnosed with autism).
I do not actively go out and hurt anyone. However, I do not really go out and volunteer to help anyone. If it’s of any relevancy, part of the reason I am emotionally dead or think I am that way is because of a lot of trauma during my young adult years.
Recently, I got a lifeguard job, and [judging by] the first day alone, it seems like a good fit for me. That should help with my depression and give me encouragement as I now have a source of income. It seems really easy, a good thing for my OCD thoughts. (They are not as bad as they were many months ago, but sometimes they still bother me.)
I have to admit I am never happy. My day is boring day and day out, and sometimes I feel like I am far behind most people my age in their progress of life.
So, what are your thoughts? What do you think is going on, and how do you think I should proceed going forward?
Nicholas (age 26)
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I am sorry for the struggles you are experiencing. Thank you for writing.
To make a full assessment of what's going on, I would ideally like to know more about your background, especially details about the trauma you mention only in passing. That said, my initial feeling is that all of this links with your autism. You don't say where you are on the autism spectrum, but be that as it may, autism is often associated with other emotional conditions. This comorbidity may involve all of the other problems you mention, including OCD, depression, and your lack of empathy for others.
You autism, combined with whatever trauma you might have suffered earlier, may have brought up or exacerbated these other emotional issues. Let's talk about each of these in turn:
In short, I suspect strongly that all these things you are experiencing, including your reaction to the Thousand Oaks shooting, are connected to your ASD. Therefore, the logical thing to ask is this: Are you being treated for your ASD? Are you seeing a professional? Have you consulted a doctor at any time? (I don't think your 5-minute consultation with a counselor counts).
I suggest you start by checking out the Autism Speaks website as a good place to find information and resources.
Don't worry that you might hurt someone (doubtful) and don't worry about competing with others your age (everyone is different and progresses at their own rate). But if you do have thoughts of suicide again and they get worse, please call the 988 hotline, or you can also chat at the website.
I hope this helps. Write again if you have more questions or concerns.
Hey, Papa Bear,
I wanted to write this letter to inform that certain things have improved recently. As you can probably tell from the latter part of the letter, I do have issues to tell but things otherwise have improved in some meaningful capacity. I now have a volunteer job working in retail (food bank) and I’m really happy with the position and made new friends. Also, as of last year, I became an uncle. My sister’s baby boy is so precious to me. He’s turned 1 fairly recently and I cannot be prouder of him. I realised as I reread your response letter to me from 2020 that I’m simply not ready to be a dad. It’ll come unexpectedly but I only want to be the best I can be, learning from my own parents and of course, my nephew. But right now, being there for him is my priority.
Also, that horrible person who abused my mum was arrested after breaking AVO [Apprehended Violence Order, which is used to protect people against domestic violence] the following morning. I’m glad he’s out of my family’s (and my) life, but I’m left trying to cope with the last three years he’s been so abusive to my mum (and indirectly, my family). I was only indirectly affected (the night before he was arrested, I actually confronted the horrible man to get out and he did but I was terrified of him, I still felt the need to stand up to him and with a furious glare I told him to get out while my mum screamed at me to leave the room out of terror for my safety, but I claimed I wasn’t afraid of him, which was a lie), but the last three years left a mental scar on me which has left me trying to heal by talking with friends and being honest with my mum (also helping her with shopping), who finally cut ties with him for good. I hope he never returns as nobody in my family wants him around.
However, this is my question: was I stupid/reckless to confront him while trying to be brave while also trying to protect my mother and brother (he was also confronting him) knowing how cowardly and terrified I actually am, or should I have just not bothered out of a desire to live and to not be killed by that monster (he had no weapons but he was still dangerous having a terrifying abusive mental state)?
I understand this is a heavy question but I needed to know if I did the right thing. I have a disability (autism), but he has one, too, but that shouldn’t excuse his disgusting actions given how long this was occurring. Still, I don’t need potential PTSD in my life. A lot of horrible domestic abuse cases often end in either severe injuries or mostly death (I saw a lot of news reports of this and I hate how common it is), and I don’t wanna lose my mum due to my cowardice, so I had to be brave. Nobody got hurt physically, but I still feel stupid knowing he could’ve beaten me to death if he wanted to. The past three years have been rather traumatic. I just wanna know if I did the right thing or not. My nephew is one of my few bright spots in my life that remind me what is truly important: family.
I've really appreciated your helpful and kindhearted letters to me over the years, Papa Bear. I would appreciate it if you answered my letter soon.
Sam the Dog
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I'm glad you have finally extricated the problem from your family situation. It is a tough question you ask about whether you did the "right thing." If I were to give the standard police answer, then no, you should not have put yourself at risk like that and you should have tried to avoid violence at all cost, call the police, and let the police do the touch work for you.
In this bear's humble opinion, though, you did the right thing. You faced up to a bully, and he backed down. It worked. And you were brave to do it. And if you were scared, that just means you were even braver yet because, you see, the bravest man is the one who faces his fears and does what needs to be done. If you have no fear, then no bravery is needed.
Sometimes we have to dare to be brave because help is not on the way. The police are often busy or just don't show up. Sometimes, as you might have heard, they show up at the wrong place and kill or arrest the wrong person. Work within the law, but don't trust anyone, including the police. and know your rights. Hell, one time, the police wanted to arrest my mother on suspicion of killing my grandfather when he merely died in bed of natural causes. And they treated me like a criminal when I was trying to report a car accident (one in which I wasn't even involved). Another time, my house was robbed. The cops even admitted they thought they knew who did it, but they did nothing, and when I went to report missing items at the station, the cop was more interested in talking to his buddies about his planned summer vacation than taking my list of items stolen. I don't have a great history with police, and that's coming from someone who has never even committed a crime except for getting one speeding ticket. Sheesh.
Did you do the right thing? Is the jerk gone? Yes. Is your mother now safe? Yes. Are you okay? Yes. Given the evidence, I would say, yes, you did the right thing. You can't argue with good results. You have a right to defend yourself and your family, and you especially have that right when you are inside your own home. The law is on your side in this case, most definitely.
This is not to say you should always behave forcefully. Sometimes the situation calls for it, sometimes not. For example, just a few days ago, I was at the library and one of the patrons was being forcefully removed by a security officer. He was kicking the officer and yelling at her, but I stood to one side. Obviously, people were already there to handle the situation, and if I had tried to help I likely would have just been in the way or gotten myself injured.
I'm not clear as to what the guy did, specifically, that caused you to toss him out, unless you had just had enough, but then you got the police involved and they arrested him, so all's well.
Again, take things on a case-by-case basis. You knew this jerk for three years, so you likely understood that he was really just a bully, and all bullies are cowards. You assessed the situation, faced up to the bully, got rid of him, and then reported him to the authorities.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.