[Happy Halloween, Dear Readers --Papabear]
I am happy to inform you that I have gotten over my Tech E Coyote obsession and I have in fact began talking to someone real a fair bit online. He has been perfectly fine with me and no discomfort, bad feelings or anything have happened and we have become "internet friends" He lives in America and I'm British and we don't plan on meeting up or anything IRL. However I fear there might be a problem on the horizon.
A few days ago, I heard my mother discuss something to do with something called Tarot. These are apparently to do with fortune telling and she says have some links to Satanism. So not good then, eh?
A while ago I had been looking through the submissions and journals on my friends Fur Affinity page and discovered that he has a collection of these cards which he commissions artist to make for him. I thought these were, frankly, quite cool looking but probably due to my lack of knowledge.
I'm basically worried that I may have befriended a perfectly nice... Satanist. He has been very nice and friendly and I trust him as much as it is sensible to online, which isn't that much, just small things like when he'll be online, nothing valuable. But I trust my mother far more but I know she can get touchy over things to do with, let’s call it magic for want of a better word.
So, my question is simple, What the holy fornication do I do? Should I stay friends with him, talk to him, break away from him or just leave it alone. I don't want to just bugger off without an explanation. It is the internet, but come on, we do deserve some clarity.
Thanks for the help
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Glad you are over your crush on Tech E :-P
I saved your question for today because it is so timely for this holiday; hope you don’t mind. But to the question at paw.... Tarot cards were invented in Europe in the 1400s to play a number of harmless card games. It wasn’t until about four hundred years later that people started using them for fortune telling (or divination). Today, there are different versions of Tarot cards, some associated with games and some associated with the occult.
Just as Tarot cards were adopted by mystics to tell fortunes, regular playing cards are also used for the same purpose. You can also cast lots, throw bones, use a crystal ball, read tea leaves, etc. None of these things are magic in themselves. It is only one's attitude towards them that makes them seem so.
The same goes for Tarot cards. They are just cards with art on them, nothing more. It is the mystic who is the key here. If you believe in such things, it is the mystic’s ability to read the cards randomly shuffled and dealt that allows him or her to tell make predictions about the future. The cards are just pieces of cardboard or plastic with drawings on them.
It’s okay for you to like the art on the Tarot cards your friend made. It would be wrong to assume that because he makes such cards he is a Satanist. The two of you have become friends and that’s a wonderful thing. In your conversations with him, try to bring up the topic of religion and philosophy in a nonchalant manner. Maybe start by saying some of your own beliefs and then see what he thinks. This is a much better way of finding out more about your friend because you know what they say about people who assume—you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”
Last week I posted this letter about the idea of some furries forming a community. While I have serious doubts of the practicality of furries creating a functioning, economically independent community, Papabear does still maintain that furries do form at least an ersatz community, one very loosely organized, but still a community. One furry posted a response, however, that I find quite disturbing, especially since I have been hoping to form an organization of furries.
I am posting the letter here. This furry--well, not even sure if this is from a furry—has a very negative opinion of furries. My concern is this: how prevalent is this opinion? Do YOU feel this way? Do a lot of furries feel this way? If so, then any efforts toward creating the AFA would be utterly futile.
Do you feel like you're part of a community or not? Please post your opinions following this letter. Thank you.
I can't believe that NO ONE MENTIONED that being a furry is simply a matter of self-declaration and how this complete lack of control over who gets to be a furry -- a precedent set from the fandom's infancy -- would throw a whole pile of monkey wrenches into any plans for a "furry community". Furry fandom indiscriminately imports personalities with diametrically opposed and incompatible values, ethics, outlooks, and attitudes. Included in the mix are sociopaths with serious character defects, but you can't kick them out because the fandom is a nerd herd and therefore overcompensates societal rejection with all-encompassing unconditional inclusivity. Furry is based off an infatuation with anthropomorphic animals. That shared value is superficial. As such, one is, unfortunately, NOT necessarily more likely to find "kindred spirits" within the fandom as without it. People are wildly different. Anthros mean different things to them. Think about Na'vi, Otherkin, Therians, plushies, rule 34, fursuiters, murrsuiters, gigglefairy sparkledogs, My Little Pony, foxes and wolves, videogamers, centaurs, Nazi furs, weres, haunted attraction furs, adult babyfurs, (oh hell, I'm not itemizing all the sub-fetishes that can go in conjunction with furry), Sonic fans, TMNT, (oh hell, insert a list of all the cartoon shows' and werewolf movies' fanbases, yada yada), daddy furs, civilized noble savage furs, con-goers, trans-humanists, Christian, (oh fuck, tack on a list of all the religions too -- including atheism), gay, bi, straight, asexual (LGBTQIAlphabet soup), lulz troll furries, imageboard furries and MUCH MUCH MUCH MORE -- including those aspects of furry that do not wish to be defined or sub-categorized and remain stubbornly nebulously uncodified. None of which even begins to describe all the FAR MORE IMPORTANT DEEPER MERITS AND FLAWS to consider in selecting fellow tribes-people in a proposed budding "furry" community that these people's individual moral compasses or lack thereof (regardless of whatever combination of sub-sub-sub-subcultures they ascribe to) could have carried them off to. So to sit these people down, who in truth have little in common and little interest in each other, and say, "Okay, here's a system of rules we need to play by to function as a community", misses the point by a factor of 9,000. Furry isn't a community. There may be communities within furry, but furry is not and cannot be a community as a whole. Communities start with shared values, ideals, and even aesthetics (the images and interactions with reality people want to associate with). If you want to start a community with those aspects of the fandom that are even remotely-possibly capable of it, starting with the love of animal people is a POOR CHOICE. Intentional communities crave balanced and stable ethos, pathos, and logos that justifies the investment of faith, hard work, and sacrifice that goes into creating and maintaining them. That goes far beyond the childish things of a protracted childhood that furry is mostly comprised of. Furries don't even really have an identity as evidenced by the multitudinous different responses by asking any one of them, "What is a furry?" So how do you propose to make a community out of a people that aren't even a tribe, or profoundly disinterested in such by their simple natures, if you will?
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Your argument seems to be that we can't have a furry community because we are too diverse. By that same logic, the United States should not exist because we have people of too many races, religions, political beliefs, etc. I believe that any group of people can come together if they find a unifying cause.
* * *
The writer returned, saying:
That's the point. Communities have unifying causes and codes. The U.S. is a superpower nation with solemn oaths and duties, a legal system, and constitution, so the comparison to furry fandom, which has none of those things (and lacks untold more in such a comparison), is laughable and invalid. I'm shocked you would dare compare the two.
I'm not talking about making the fandom into a nation. I'm talking about how the anti-structure of the fandom, through the malfeasance of enforced amorality, prevents it from forming so much as a simple single functioning HOUSE -- though blind people still treat it as such (much to their own detriment).
The fandom IS highly entropic. No one can MAKE a TANGIBLE community (Internet community doesn't count) out of the fandom (or anything else outside of junk merchandise to hawk).
As you all have already agreed upon the prior sentence in an earlier reply to another.
I'm saying the REASONS for that intangibility are: as soon as anyone says, "Furry is THIS." or "It's NOT THAT." in the attempt to create the causes for forming a standard to create structure for the impetus of a real community, they are instantaneously WRONG and abruptly called out on their bullshit because NO ONE gets that kind of authority to say what is and isn't allowed to be a part of furry fandom.
Furry fandom IS different from other fandoms because people within it do treat it like a community and welfare network. The problem is, they don't exercise any standards or structure, and are quite opposed to the idea, which attracts exploitative personalities like flies to a corpse. Not to mention the fandom is, consequently, not exactly conducive to life aspirations; absent of the hallmark of value of a true community. If this fandom is supposed to run like a community, as many of its motley crew of undisciplined, directionless, and many times, amoral members intend, its current state would be best likened unto a poorly run frat house. At best.
As for inclusivity: we're all excited to meet new peoples and new ways of doing things. The ironic hypocrisy is that different cultures came about through having different standards that made them interesting and unique. The negative value of indiscriminate inclusivity is that it destroys the standards of judgement of what to include and not include in a culture that makes it unique. Bring everyone in under One Big Tent(tm), regardless of what they can do, under a unifying cause, and more often than not, you may be unintentionally describing a con game.
Keep it real. You can have either indiscriminate quantity or discriminating quality (or both, if you employ shrewd Machiavellian techniques and divide them into layers and use one as a readily disposable shield to protect the more valuable other). Discrimination is not always evil: only when it's prejudiced is discrimination wrong. When you're at the supermarket determining which produce is green, ripe, and rotten, you're engaging in a form of discrimination. Tribe-selecting can, honestly, be analogous to selecting produce based on prospects' values, attitudes, and life choices. When selecting members of a community, it's important to discriminate APPROPRIATELY for its survival and ability to thrive.
I'm sure that to spend so much time wasting so many words describing a fandom about anthropomorphism will be seen as stupid by those not pressed against the fandom's glass ceiling dividing fantasy from reality. That's because the (un)imaginative minds of the lowest common denominator goes nowhere else but straight to raping targets incapable of consent as soon as the idea of real world anthro community is mentioned and are quick to either break out the torches or start humping -- or both. If people are SERIOUS about creating a furry community, the reason it is neigh impossible is due to the shallow parameters they've set for what being a furry means, and the lowest common denominators -- neither fit to lead or follow nor walk hand in hand -- that inhabit the fandom as result.
Construction is not impossible under the strictest definition, but remember that communities are held together by the glue of ideology. Be prepared to invest tons of psychic energy within the internal worlds of yourself and your members to bail out and rise above the muck and set up a defensive perimeter around whatever little corner of this surprisingly very malevolent swamp you're intending to haunt.
Thanks, in no small part, to the non-definition of furry, IT'S NOT JUST THE "NON-FURRIES" YOU HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT.
[I have a couple good letters today and tomorrow that seem appropriate for the Halloween season. Here's one on fursuits.]
I'm pretty sure that I'm one of few millipedes on FA. With that in mind, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FURSUIT? XD
I suppose I could do a suit, but it'd be awful complicated.
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I think it’s way cool when a furry tries something different besides a canine species for a fursona and/or fursuit. There are not too many insects out there (Uncle Kage is a beetle or roach or something, so he’s the most famous one). I’ve seen a bee at one convention, and that was pretty cool. The furry even created the bee as a female, which is biologically accurate. If you’re a really good fursuit maker (or know one), then almost anything is possible. For example, quadsuits are quite remarkable; I’ve seen a Yeti who walks on stilts and has arm extensions to make the arms proportional, and I’ve even seen a goldfish and a cuttlefish.
So, if you are creating a millipede fursuit, what you do is make compromises between the human anatomy and that of the insect. If you are thinking that you have to have the millipede crawling around on its belly so it is very long and low to the ground, you really don’t have to do that. You could create a millipede suit in which it is sort of standing up on its rear section and then all the legs are facing forward.
Anthropomorphic anatomy is all about blending the animal with the human, so this is perfectly legitimate and definitely not insurmountable for a talented sewer.
Hope that helps!
P.S. Below are some pics of unique fursuits. When creating a fursuit, start with a character sheet. For furries with unique anatomies, you can draw a character sheet that also shows how the human would fit on the inside.
Allow me to apologize in advance, for I plan to keep this letter brief and to the point. I've already written two especially lengthy letters to you today, but neither of those sent due to technical mishaps on my end. So, here's hoping that the third time will be the charm.
I'm a sixteen year old asexual agnostic. I only loosely identify myself as agnostic, and lately, I've been having some thoughts that have tempted me towards atheism, which is quite a taboo where I live. Though I plan on keeping this letter somewhat brief, I feel that a little history is needed to make my question clear and clarified...
I don't consider myself a spiritual/religious person. I've only been to church a handful of times, and those few times were usually at the request of my mother. Recently, I've been growing increasingly skeptical of religion, specifically the concept that a single, omniscient deity is perched on a cloud in the sky. In fact, the main force leading me to try and cultivate my faith when I was younger was the fear of what lay after death; an eternal damnation being ample incentive for me to try desperately to find god. Regardless of how hard I tried, I failed. Thus, I'm here, seeking advice.
I'm torn over the concept of faith. What irks me so badly is that I can understand it. It makes sense that a god would only reward those who put the very well-being of their souls into his hands with no evidence. That's also what leaves me feeling unsettled. One of my major fears in life is living a long life confident in my beliefs, and then finally slipping away, and realizing that I thought wrongly. On the other end, I believe that no pious, benevolent god would damn someone's soul to an eternity of suffering simply because they did something he forbade. A truly kind god would love all, regardless of their actions or thoughts, and any god but that wouldn't be worthy of worship.
If my question has gotten a bit muddled over the course of the letter, please, allow me to reiterate it. Is it truly a bad thing to not believe in god? I've been raised my entire life with the concept of atheism being a detested, shameful thing to be. It is possible that I'm fretting for nothing, if there truly is nothing that lay beyond death.
Thank you in advance, PB. I don't know if I should be embarrassed or humbled that I've received more advice from a stranger over the Internet than from family or friends. Nevertheless, I appreciate that you do what you do.
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If you’ll indulge me a moment, your letter reminds me of an old Steve Martin routine. Paraphrasing a bit, the skit goes something like this: “Wouldn’t it be weird if you died and went to Heaven and it was just like they always told you? You know, with pearly gates and angels with wings on them playing harps? And you’re like, ‘Oh, shit! Really? Are you kidding me?’”
That traditional concept of heaven with cherubs and seraphim flapping around on dove-like wings (I always thought dragon wings were cooler) and God being a big guy with a white beard sitting on a throne with his Son on one side and Holy Spirit on the other and all the other angels and saints standing around being holy and not noticing that the cherubs’ pink butts were hanging out.... Yes, it’s lame. And if you mean that you don’t believe in that type of God, the one who also throws people into Hell for not following His commandments, then I would applaud you for your good sense and perspicacity. Just because you don’t believe in that kind of God doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be an atheist, however.
When I ponder the existence of God, or Great Spirit, or Grandfather Bear, or Ultimate Being, I think of that in terms of my being by comparison. I know that if I were God, I would have enough love in my heart, as well as sympathy and compassion to not want to see anyone tortured in Hell for all eternity. And if I can feel that way, and I’m just a little spec on a tiny planet in a vast universe in comparison to God, then I think God would be infinitely more compassionate and kinder than I. Furthermore, I would think that He would know how to help people with cold hearts and heal their blackened souls. Therefore, Hell would not be necessary.
So why do religious people such as Christians talk about Hell and threaten people who don’t believe as they do with eternal damnation? Why, to get just the kind of reaction they have gotten out of you: fear that if you don’t behave you will be punished with unending misery. But if you’re a good little boy you get to wear a robe and walk on puffy clouds for eternity (which actually sounds incredibly dull).
I, personally, do not believe in Heaven or Hell. These were created by humans as an award/punishment system to keep the masses in line; that’s all. The concept of God is also an exercise in anthropomorphism. The Bible says that God created Adam in His image. Some interpreters of the Bible say that this shouldn’t be taken literally, but that what is meant is that we have a soul while other creatures do not. Even this kind of anthropomorphism is an indication of great hubris on our part. Personally, I think humans think far too much of themselves and of their importance as a species in the grand scheme of things (remember when we believed the Sun and all the universe orbited Earth?) The epic hubris of religious institutions, however, is even more outrageous. No one on this planet knows—genuinely knows—the solution to the mystery of life and death. The Pope does not comprehend it any more than you or I do. People who tell you they understand fully what life and God are all about are either self-deluded or lying to you.
I would not worry if I were you, Nick, that someone else’s concept of life after death and of God is correct and yours is wrong. They are all wrong because no one knows the correct answer. When we die, there are two possibilities: 1) Death is truly death, the end of your being, your consciousness, your existence, in which case it will be like going into a dreamless sleep and never awakening, or 2) there is some kind of existence after death, but the nature of what that truly is will be a surprise to us all. Hopefully, a good surprise, but I, for one, could only speculate as to what that might be.
This is why people came up with the concept of Faith. Because we don’t truly know what or who or if God is, we take it on blind faith that He is and that He is a good and kind God. That is what many of us hope even though we cannot prove it (pointing to the Bible is not proof, it is notable to point out).
We have Faith because it is a great comfort in a scary world, and we obey religious leaders because it is easier than thinking for ourselves.
Another option, as you noted, is to be an atheist. Science has shown us that the universe behaves according to logical mathematical and other principles in a very elegant and beautiful system that can explain everything from the formation of galaxies and planets to the emergence of life and evolution. Perhaps, then, God is unnecessary and science is Lord.
There is a third option, however, which is the one I have been exploring. It lies, in a sense, somewhere between the two options above in which God is not a perfect omniscient and omnipresent being but instead is an evolving being that is coming into existence and that becoming is experienced through the evolving consciousnesses of living beings such as ourselves. Part of that becoming is an awakening in which God must decide whether or not He really exists. This is completely within the Becoming God’s power, and if He concludes that He doesn’t exist, then the universe disappears and we start from square one. But if He does conclude that He exists, then he becomes a Fully Awakened God, in which case all things are possible, a true nirvana.
Just a theory. Take it with a grain of salt.
This long-winded response to your question, Nick, will conclude by asserting that, no, it is not an evil thing that you are considering atheism as a possible model for explaining the nature of existence. But I predict this will not be the end-point of your personal exploration of life and meaning. You are 16 years old and have a lot of time to explore and consider your life. As you live your days in this iteration of your soul, your philosophy and theology will likely evolve, too. This is the noblest of pursuits, and the best thing you can do is not worry about what other people think of your personal quest.
I applaud you for not mindlessly aping what your friends and family tell you to believe and how to behave.
As for your concluding remarks, I see no reason for you to be embarrassed or humbled for reaching out and talking to someone else about your feelings. I feel that it is healthy, and I hope that my words will continue to help you. Don’t disregard family and friends, though, as everyone in your life will have something to say and advise you on, but trust your instincts and your own judgment. Consider the words of others, speak less than you listen, and weigh others’ opinions against the realities of the world that you experience first-hand. Continue to question everything you see and hear as you have been doing and you will do well in life.
My 34 year old cousin has a drinking problem. His mother (another cousin of mine) came to me and my grandmother yesterday morning, crying because he got on her nerves about asking her for beer while she was sleeping, getting ready to go to work early in the morning. He's been doing this for many years. He's 34 and he does have a mental problem and he has hit her and her car with a chair and she's done nothing about it. He's been spoiled since he was a kid, and right now he lives with his mom, his younger 12 year old brother, and another relative of mine in the same house. When she came to us crying that was the straw that broke the camel's back for me, and I want to give her sage advice on how to solve this problem and talk to him in a calm manner and try to reason with him, persuading him to go to rehab or such. I fear if I don't do something it might get worse. If I do this (giving sage advice to his mom and try to reason with my 34 year old cousin), would I make the situation better or should I stay out of it? (For I will make it a lot worse than it is.)
I forgot to add the advice I wanted to give to my cousin's mother: "Have no beer or any alcoholic beverages inside the house. Make him drink Snapple, Apple juice, Kool-Aid, Milk, water and other non-alcoholic drinks. While he's in your house, he needs to go to rehab, he needs to work, contribute to the household. If he wants beer, he needs to get his own place and work for it while he's in his own place. If he does get rowdy, because you didn't pick him up some beer and cigarettes, call the police and have him arrested and put him in jail because I doubt that there will be beer in jail, or kick him out and let him move into a homeless shelter. If you feel threatened, come to my grandmother's house." Again, I fear that if I don't take action, my little cousin, his mom, and my other relative that lives with the 34 y/o cousin will potentially get hurt or worse because of his drinking problems and his unpredictable behavior. I'm worried that if he asks his mom for beer early in the morning while she's asleep, she might not have enough sleep and she will get into a car wreck because of that while she's on her way to work or lose her job. She pretty much supports them (the 34 y/o cousin, my little cousin and my other relative, who also has a mental illness).
* * *
There are four problems here: your cousin’s drinking problem, his mental illness, his mother’s refusal to do anything about it, and the potential danger not only to his mother but also to the other children in the household and to your 34-year-old cousin himself. I don’t know what the nature of the mental illness is, since you don’t specify, but apparently it is not so severe that he cannot work. Still, whether it is autism or depression or something else, it needs to be treated, not only for its own sake, but also because it likely is exacerbating his alcoholism in one way or another. You don’t say whether or not he or your other relative with a mental disorder is receiving treatment, but that is one of the first things that should be taken care of if at all possible.
His mother is what is called an enabler. These are people who are in denial about the problem, or don’t want to confront it, or won’t accept the severity of the problem (“Oh, it’s not so bad”), or even blame themselves for the problem. All these things make it easier for the 34 year old to keep doing what he is doing.
Now within this troubled family you want to step in and give such as advice as: deny him alcohol, make him get a job, make him go to rehab, and call the police if he gets physical again. These are all things that I’m sure everyone reading this would agree are good ideas. However, the problem is that if you tell this to his mother or, worse, to him, you will only receive anger and defensiveness in response.
There are two reasons for this: 1) these problems didn’t spring up overnight and are the result of much deeper problems within the individuals and the family, so it is these problems that need to be sorted out and addressed in order to resolve the resulting symptoms, and 2) marching into a dysfunctional situation like this with “sage advice” makes you come off as a know-it-all, and the immediate reaction will be on the order of “Who do you think you are to be interfering in matters that don’t concern you?” This might mean that not only will your efforts produce no results but you stand the risk of them cutting you out of their lives completely.
Ideally, your cousin and his mother should both be seeing a therapist, and your cousin should go to an alcohol-abuse treatment program such as AA. Getting them there against their own will would be very problematic, however.
My first advice to you, then, would be to contact the Adult Protective Services program at your state’s Department of Social Services office. I would call them, perhaps make an appointment, and visit the office and express your concerns, asking them for their professional advice. APS usually focuses on seniors who need help, but they also help with adults who are dependent on their family, which your cousin certainly is. They can recommend the best steps for you to take and whom to contact in your area for help in terms of alcohol and mental illness treatment programs. They can also help you with any financial assistance programs that might be available to your cousins.
Next, go to your local police department, not with an official complaint or report, but give them the information about what is going on, what the address is, etc., and tell them your concerns about a serious domestic violence potential and that you will be contacting them if you see trouble. They will appreciate the heads up.
Okay, now you are armed with information and you have alerted law enforcement and social services. What now?
What now is what is sometimes called “seeding.” Seeding is when you talk to the people in trouble and implant information into their heads without accusing them or confronting them angrily or “sagely.” You are being non-confrontational. Let the mother know that you are keeping an eye on them because you care about them. Express your concern for your 12-year-old cousin and other relative who live in the house and that you are upset about your older cousin’s tendency to anger and be violent. Let her know that if there is any trouble, the mother can come to your grandmother’s house (that was one good thing you said that was right on target.) Mention things to her that you have been reading stuff about enabling and that you are concerned she could be an enabler. Express your concern that the man’s tendency to wake her up early in the morning for beer is making her exhausted and that you are worried about her driving tired and the effects on her job.
Things you do not want to do is anything that makes this enabling situation easier for them, such as babysitting, doing chores around the house, offering rides to work, buying your cousin booze (I know you certainly wouldn’t do that), and so on. You want to help her realize that this is a bad thing and that pretending that it isn’t will only make matters worse. Don’t do so in a lecturing, sager-than-thou way, but do it in a loving, caring way. If you see an opening where it looks like the truth is beginning to dawn on her, pass along some of the information that Social Services will no doubt give you.
Since you are not part of the direct family, you are not going to be able to drag them into therapy or call for an intervention no matter how correct you are that they need it. This softer approach of seeding is a better tactic for you in this case.
I’m is proud of you for caring about others.
[Papabear notes: This is the first time I have done this, but a recent comment on one of the letters in this column was so well-thought-out and well-written, and it touches on such an important subject for furries, that I am making it today's feature letter.]
I'm silently following your site since, I believe a couple years, and even considered writing to you once on my behalf and once on one of my friend's, thought, never got to it in the end. Although, I always find your stance and well thought answers to be heart warming and enlightening.
Today, I hope you won't be too bothered by the fact that I'm not entirely agreeing with your own point of view, even if the subject doesn't directly concern me, I did asked myself those questions before, and would like to share my own thoughts.
First, I want to point that I'm in fact not at all into babyfurs and that the arts falling in this category totally irks me.
I never really thought deeply about the right or wrong of this subject before a big pro-con babyfur/cubporn bloodwar exploded on one very well known site of our community. And as the great separation took place and raged everywhere around me, I actually took the time to read and think about a lot of arguments between the protagonists.
In the end, and to save time, I do believe our community is stigmatizing a minority within a minority. If you take a step back, Yes, child abuse IS extremely wrong. I'm all against child abuse, and I do believe it should be severely punished, but here, we're talking about either art depicting those, or people pretending it to happen during their sexual intercourses or role play, when it really involve two consenting adults. If we assume this shouldn't be depicted, written or talked about, then the same should go with rape, murder, gore and stuff like that.
As horrible as child abuse can be, I don't feel like being raped in a dark cave, then having one's throat slit open and left to die in a dark alley is excusable as well in real life. This is not a less horrible situation, and yet, it is one which our community seems to sit with much better.
None of those appeal to me, but to compare to a subject I know a bit better, I am myself turned on by hypnosis and mind control. Both the playful and more aggressive and dark one. Most people wouldn't blink an eye at my fantasies, but if we go back to real life, how twisted can it become, to have someone sensory deprived, conditioned and reinforced until he/she's just a mindless slave ? Suddenly, my fantasy isn't that fun anymore.
Now, I see in the end of your answer, and just like many others, you explain how child abuse is horrible in real life, and really, it is. But, unless mistaken, I believe we where talking about the imaginary part of this, be it playful, or indeed, quite naughty.
To me, in this debate, almost each time it appears anywhere, we're entirely missing the point, and are associating each person getting turned on by this with a real life pedophile. Which would make any people getting off on gore a real time murderer, every feral fan a real time zoophile, and so on. It would make me a real life criminal as well.
The way I see things, we don't chose what arouses us, and depending on too many factors for us to even keep track or realize, we end up with the qualities and quirks and well, kinks we have.
To me, the real question, the heart of the problem is how responsible we are. Keeping our fantasies separate from the real life, you can't punish someone for being aroused by animals, rape, murder, violence, blood, sickness or children, as disgusted as you can be at the idea. But we, humans or fur in heart are not creature entirely made of black or white. What matters for real is being able to keep ourselves in check. Judging or banning those only fantasizing about it, well, that will not prevent some of those having this interest to one day commit the irreparable, because yes, that will happen, just like some fantasizing about rape or murder will one day act on those. Or some having the same interest as me ending up using alcohol or drugs to rip a non existing consent to a weakened victim. And that's what matters in the end.
I actually believe being able to talk about it and share might even give some of the weaker ones the steam off needed to never fall that low. Some form of catharsis if you see what I mean.
Anyway, this was a terribly long response, and I apologize for taking the time to comment here only to state a different opinion, but this is a subject I got plenty of time and occasion to think about and I felt it was relevant to be shared. thanks for those managing to read all of this, and my sincere salutations to you, papa bear!
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My Dear Howard,
Thank you so much for your letter. First of all, it reinforces my policy that welcomes dissent on this website. People who write in countering something I’ve said provoke lively and thoughtful debate, which is useful for everyone concerned, including readers of this column and yours truly.
Let’s just start by saying that, even if you might not think so, I agree with everything you have said in your letter. I think you might have misunderstood me somewhat—or, perhaps, I didn’t make myself clear—thinking that I believe babyfurs are all mentally troubled somehow. I did note that, for the most part, babyfurs enjoy the innocence of depictions of very young furs in art, and I could also understand how some adults would find wearing diapers a kind of psychologically and emotionally comforting practice.
Then I also noted, however, that some people who are into this do have a serious problem that can only be called pedophilia and that pedophilia is wrong—to which you agreed.
In your argument, you say that there are furries (and people in general) who find depictions of young children having sex with each other or being sexually molested by adults to be cathartic, releasing their own desires so that they do not commit these acts in real life. I think the jury is still out on that one. In my opinion, that can go one of two ways: either the way you say, in which it calms the person with such desires; or, just the opposite, it feeds their lust and they begin to become dissatisfied with just watching these things online and want it in real life. We have to be very careful here, as the human mind is an unpredictable thing.
Furthermore, you note that if X-rated babyfur art should be considered bad, then so should depictions of rape, murder, etc. I agree, mostly. These are all the same kind of pornography. People find such images stimulating or cathartic for various psychological and emotional reasons too lengthy to go into great detail here because each case is different. Briefly, though, some people might get off on violent scenes because they have anger issues, but sometimes it might be for the same reason that people enjoy horror films—the adrenaline rush combined with the knowledge that one is safe and sound. As for fantasies of being raped or hypnotized or being made a slave, these fantasies have to do with control issues. Specifically, people who are stressed and burdened with the chores and responsibilities of everyday life fantasize about giving up all control, including body and mind, to someone else. This can, in fact, be quite therapeutic.
But what we are getting into here is a very core issue that is extremely relevant in our digital and virtual reality modern life: how do we separate fantasy from reality? Or, even, should we separate them?
One should avoid the potential trap here of the reductio ad absurdum that the oh-so-ridiculous Pat Robertson committed when he recently asserted that videogamers who shoot and kill characters in a game are literally guilty of murder (see http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/08/07/pat-robertson-murder-committed-in-video-games-is-no-different-than-real-life-murder/). That’s just imbecilic. Similarly, furries who fantasize about acts that would be considered sex crimes if they were committed in real life are not actually guilty of a crime. Papabear has participated in things in role play and such that I would never, ever do in real life. (And, as I noted in the original letter, the law says that artistic depictions of such acts—in other words, not showing real people—is not a crime).
It all comes down to who the person is tapping away at the keyboard and gripping the mouse. Are they emotionally and psychologically stable, or are they a bit off-kilter, vulnerable to the stimulations they see on the computer screen? As you said, “To me, the real question, the heart of the problem is how responsible we are.” Well put.
This is something we all need to be aware of. The people who should be responsible are not only the ones viewing the art but also the ones creating it. I’m not saying we should ban or censor babyfur art (I am completely against censoring the arts), but we should be cognizant of the potential effects of what we do, just as with everything else in life. We do not operate in isolation. Everything we do has the potential to affect other people in either positive or negative ways. We should all keep that in mind.
Perhaps that is the main lesson here for all my readers.
Thanks again, Howard!
My question here isn't too important, so feel free to put more important ones forward. This is just a curious question that I was wondering what your thoughts were.
Anyway, over the weekend, I attended a small furry party with some good friends. Eventually, conversation turned to how I want to move in with my best furiend and his polygamous mate come next year for class. I believe it will benefit all of us as they would get a larger area and much more opportunities for job markets as well, but they're still a bit hesitant. Another friend chimed in and began to talk about living in communities or apartment complexes, and eventually the conversation effectively turned into creating an all-furry community living together in a fenced in area. My friend and I were quick to point out similarities to nudist colonies and sex offender communities.
Now while the thought is somewhat appealing and my friends all seemed to show enthusiasm for such an idea to the point of developing other ideas which I'll explain later. However, I have my doubts. I'm not sure that creating such a community is wise as it effectively closes off the group from surrounding communities and becomes somewhat of an oddity. People tend to make fun of nudist colonies and avoid sexual offender communities with strict reasons. I'm not sure that would be healthy for the fandom much at all. The community, in my thoughts, would become an oddity, something to avoid and to poke fun at while holding interest for a while, but not inviting much variation.
The next idea to mutate from the community was a furry mansion that would be funded by kick starter and work like the "Big Brother" TV show that aired on MTV to gain money and donations from TV or Internet networks. Everyone also seemed rather enthusiastic about that idea as well, but again I was quick to question it. I would think doing that would make everyone involved into a spectacle. Actions change in front of cameras and boring actions turn people off. This would effectively turn the fandom (or at least the people involved and the fandom to people dim witted enough to associate those people with eye entirety of the fandom) into entertainment and possibly a joke. People want to be entertained. They want fights, sex, and drama, and based on the people involved... it just wouldn't work out well for everyone, I would think. I don't want to be connected with "Furry Jersey Shore" and I don't want to see my friends involved with that either.
The last idea to evolve, that sparked a very very long conversation about how it would be done, was building an off-the-grid furry community from the ground up in the wilderness and turn it into it's own, stable entity with farming and such, removed from society as much as possible. Basically, it would be built as a dome structure and also funded via kick starter. The plan is to span 25 acres with included farmland as far away from society as possible. This also doesn't sit well with me. Again, it's closing off the group from expansion and creating an oddity. Talk about similarities to M. Night Shymalan's (however you spell that name) "The Village" arose and I just felt even more turned off and worried about the plans for it. Apparently, floor plans are being written up and shared. I'm still very unsure and wary of the idea, even if building is a possibility, it just doesn't sit right. I'm all for creating a close-knit community, but I feel society is needed. I know I don't speak for everyone, but I don't really want to be a farmer, I'm majoring in microbiology. My friend has a degree in English and the other in game design. I know it all depends on what the person wants, but it still just doesn't feel right and bothers me somewhat.
Well this turned out to be a little weird and awkward to talk about. Maybe it's just me, but thinking critically about the ideas, I seriously think they are all mistakes. I could be wrong, but I'm just curious. What do you think, Papabear? I'd love to hear your take on this.
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This is an interesting mental exercise, but Papabear agrees with you that the ideas you and your friends were discussing are both impractical and unrealistic. I can see where they would have a broad appeal from furries who would like to escape from mundane society and exist in some kind of idealistic commune a la the 1960s Hippie era, but I am with you on this: it won’t work. Not only will it not work, but it is just a bad idea. Let’s go over the suggestions. . . .
The first proposal is to create some kind of fenced-off commune community analogous to a nudist colony (I don’t really like the idea of comparing this to a sex offender community, which is rather insulting because it implies we are pariahs). Of the ideas presented, this is the most feasible if the notion is to just have a bunch of furries in the same apartment building or condo association, perhaps. The difficulty here would be to manage to find such a building where you could find enough available apartments or other living quarters. Unless you all move into a new building that has yet to be rented out or sold, it would be very difficult to do. If you’re talking about finding some land, fencing it in, and living there, again, how would you manage to buy that amount of land? Who will finance it and build the structures, fencing, and supply the water and electricity and gas you might need? Or, are we talking about a more rustic feel where you are all camping and getting water from a stream or well (and then you really need to worry about monitoring water cleanliness) and maybe generating power from windmills and solar? Again, a big up-front investment. Or are you willing to live like pioneers? Building latrines and relying on candles and fires for heat and cooking and light? Somehow, I don’t find typical furries, with their addiction to the Internet and computer games, living so Spartanly. You will feel very isolated in your fenced-in community, indeed. Finally, there’s the drama issue, which furries are noted for. Who will be in charge of this community? How will you select leaders? Will it be a democratic society? If so, how will you run elections etc.? What a can of worms that will open up!
Your next idea involves getting some sort of TV company interested in funding your little venture. Problem #1 would be that, even if you got this going somehow, the producers would be picking the furries they wanted in the show and everyone else would be SOL. Then, as you state, they will want drama. Now, not a thing hard to generate among furries, but that will just result in competitions and hurt feelings, tearing apart whatever feeling of community you might have had. As you said, do you really want to be a furry version of “Jersey Shore”? Finally, what do you do when between seasons? How about after the show is cancelled, as it eventually would be even if it were a success. Bad plan.
Next idea was having a kind of commune set up, which is rather similar to idea #1. The extremely naive notion here is that you will miraculously be able to get it funded by a kickstarter. Now, for readers who don’t know what that is, a kickstarter is a program funded by investors usually to fund some kind of artistic project, such as a filmmaking venture. Ultimately, the kickstarter investors will want to see a return on their investment. What sort of ROI are they going to see from furries? A bunch of you dancing around nude on some farmland? A documentary of your venture? Some furry art? Hate to break it to your friends, but ain’t gonna happen—not on this planet, anyway.
All of these ideas, even disregarding their impracticality regarding finances etc., are wrong-headed. Papabear realizes that furries often feel alienated from the rest of society and wouldn’t it be lovely if we could set up our own kind of furtopia? But instead of separating ourselves from society and making us even more a target of suspicion and paranoia by mundanes, we should be trying everything we can to gain acceptance by society at large, just as people in the LGBT community have been trying to do for years, and, before that, all the brave people who fought for civil rights for minorities (although those struggles have been hugely more difficult and even lethal than anything furries have ever faced, so that’s really an unfair comparison).
Happiness and freedom are not found by running away from the world. They can only be found by confronting society head-on. And Papabear is completely on your side on this one, DT.
I have been feeling insane. that’s the best way to put it. I have all A's in school except for two B's. I take every advanced course I can, but I feel like it's not enough. I feel like shutting down some days and not going to school, even though I have decent friends. Only one knows I'm a furry, though, and no one knows I’m bisexual. I really don't have feelings for anyone. I feel really lost. Can you please help?
Missing Lynx (age 16)
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Yours is one of those letters where Papabear puts on his bifocals to better read between the lines. I would have to infer from your brief missive that you are putting enormous pressure on yourself to please others—most likely, your parents. They are pushing you to get good grades. There’s nothing wrong with doing your best in school, but don’t do what Papabear did in high school: make it all about the grades. That really sucks the fun out of learning AND, ironically, you don’t learn much when you are just studying for the test. Has this ever happened to you? A test is coming up, so you study study study until your brain hurts. On the day of the test, you spill all that stuff that’s in your brain onto the page, breathe a sigh of relief, and are vaguely happy when you get an A or B. Now, I’m betting if you took that same test three months from now (without studying for it again) you would remember maybe half of it, or maybe less. That’s not learning.
So, the first thing to do here is to take a step back and regroup. Think of what it is you are studying for. Do you have a career in mind? What is it about that career that intrigues you? If you enjoy that subject matter, then that will make learning about it much more fun and stress you out less. And what about classes you have to take even though they are not related directly to your main interest? Well, learning, in general, should be fun. There’s a huge world out there that is completely amazing and utterly fascinating. Learning about it should be a joy. It helps if you have good teachers that convey that joy; of course, the whole “teaching to the test” philosophy that our lackluster education system has in America, again, sucks the joy out of it. You could actually bring some of that fun back by reading books outside the curriculum. For instance: high school American history totally turned this bear off our country’s past. As an adult bear, however, I became fascinated with the History Channel (which, now, sadly, has become all reality show crap). But if you want to read some great books on the topic, check out just about anything by David McCullough to start.
Now, your second topic is about friends and friendship. I can see your problem here, hon. You have not opened up to hardly anyone about who you really are, which, again, is probably because you're trying to be what others want you to be rather than who you are. Therefore, you cannot relate to any of your current friends on a deeper level, which makes for unsatisfying relationships. What you should be doing is finding some friends who are bisexual (or gay) and/or furry and start hanging out with them. It is so much better to be around people to whom you can relate. You will be much happier.
If the reason you don’t do that is because you fear what your parents will learn about you if they figure out the type of people you are seeing, then you need to have some openness with them as well. If that is an issue, check out the Coming Out Furry category on my website.
Hope this helps!!!
I've asked you questions before and I want to thank you so much for the advice you've given me. It's really been helpful, but today I've got another question for you. I've been friends with a guy for a few years now, and I'll be the first to admit that I'm not always an easy guy to get along with. I also used to have a problem with lying. Little things just to see if I could get people to believe me. Well, this friend is someone that I lied to. I'm ashamed of it and I begged him to forgive me because his friendship is important to me. When he finally forgave me, I promised not to lie to him ever again, and for about a year now I've been true to my word and been completely honest with him.
But every now and then we argue and he always throws that past mistake and a few others in my face. It's emotionally draining and we have been fighting more and more recently. I still value his friendship, but it’s starting to wear down on me. Should I just stop talking to him, or keep taking this to preserve out friendship? Is it even worth it for me to work at our friendship anymore? I don't want to hurt him or make him mad, but Ii just don't think I can handle him opening up old wounds. What should I do?
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One of the most challenging aspects of being in a committed relationship has to do with learning how to fight. Whenever two or more people are involved in any kind of relationship, you’re going to have disagreements. That’s inevitable, and that leads to fighting. It’s okay to fight; that’s how we resolve differences (unless you’re the U.S. Congress). But successful couples learn how to fight fairly. Your mate has violated one of the rules of fighting fairly: don’t bring up the past.
This is not fair because it undermines the factor of forgiveness. When your mate said he forgave you for lying to him in the past, and then he brings it up in a current fight, that says that he has not, in fact, forgiven you. So, if he HAS forgiven you, then he should not be throwing the past in your face again. By being honest with him for a year—and likely more if you keep your commitment—you have shown him that you have changed and that should be enough to move on.
There are other rules of fighting fairly, including:
1. No name calling. Calling someone you supposedly love nasty names is particularly hurtful. It doesn’t resolve the fight, but just makes it worse. It makes your mate think you really don’t love him.
2. No yelling. You can have an argument without raising your voice. This is rather difficult, I know, because when we’re frustrated we tend to do it, but if you and your mate just start shouting louder and louder what happens, ironically, is you can no longer hear what the other person is saying; you’re too busy trying to be heard.
3. No—and I mean ABSOLUTELY NO—hitting or other physical attacks of any kind.
4. No blaming. Don’t blame the other person for a problem that is likely caused by both of you miscommunicating. Saying “It’s all your fault” is not at all constructive and will put your mate on the defensive.
5. Stay on topic. If you’re arguing about, say, who is supposed to pay the electric bill this month, don’t bring up an unrelated subject like, “you’re so disorganized you can’t keep anything straight,” or “and I hate when you clip your toenails on the kitchen table.” If you want to solve a problem, you have to focus.
6. Don’t use something minor to start an argument that is really about something major underneath. I’ve been guilty of this one myself. Yelling at your mate for not washing the dishes when what’s really troubling you is that he got himself fired from work by smoking weed is not going to solve the real problem. Extreme example, but you get the idea.
7. No kidney punches. That is, no taking aim at another person’s vulnerability in order to win an argument. Say you’re arguing about who does more to clean around the house. Telling your mate “well you’re just too fat and lazy to use a broom” when you know he is self-conscious about his weight is a low-blow.
8. Don’t manipulate. The most manipulative thing is turning on the tear ducts to get your way. It’s okay to have honest tears, but there are a lot of people who can make themselves cry because they know their partner will back down.
9. Give each other equal time in the argument. One way to do this is to have an object that you agree that whoever is holding it is allowed to talk (wow, awkward sentence!) The other person cannot talk while the object is being held. To lighten the mood, you might make it a silly object, such as a clown Pez dispenser or your favorite toy from Bad Dragon.
10. Clarify and reinforce. After you have argued and each has had his or her say, each partner should repeat what he/she believes was said and what the conclusion was so that you both agree to the results.
11. When you're done, give your partner a kiss and hug to reinforce that everything is okay. Or, if you want to go the extra mile, have make-up sex :-P
The above rules apply for any relationship, really, although I realize you're talking about a friendly relationship and not a romantic one, so in your case you would probably want to leave out #11 :-P
Anyway, long-winded way of saying that Papabear feels you should keep trying, keep working on your relationship. Relationships are never easy; they are not all peaches and cream, but if you want to have something really long-lasting then it is worth investing some time and effort into it.
I'd like to first thank you for your time in reading this.
I'm very very new to the fandom and I am still learning. My fiancé... mate, pardon I'm still getting a handle on the terms, of eight years has been very supportive in helping me as he has been a member of the fandom for many a year, but I feel like it is the one way we aren't connecting and for him this is major part of his life. I love him more than anything in this world and want us to be able to connect more. But before I get lost, I will get to my reason for this letter.
I have a very, as most would call, unfounded fear of fursuits. When I was quite young my father took to the midway that was in town for the weekend and while there I was approached by a man in a Pikachu costume. I'm not sure what it was but something about this encounter left me terrified of anyone in a mascot or fursuit. Maybe it was poor condition of the suit, the lack of gloves or that I couldn't see the person’s face, something about it unsettled me.
The reason this has become a problem is, as I said, my fiancé and most of my friends are furries and fursuiters. My fiancé has made his own suit and I'm trying my hardest to conquer my fear but I feel like it's one step forward and then a tumble off a cliff backwards.
In 2014 I will be attending my very first fur convention, VancouFur. What I’m asking, I guess, is what do you recommend I do to get comfortable enough with fursuits not to have a panic attack in the middle of the convention space?
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Thank you for your fascinating question. It reminds me of my fear of clowns, which is why I hate Stephen King for writing It. But this isn’t about me. First off, I must praise you for working so hard to please your mate by trying to get used to furry stuff and fursuiters even though you aren’t really furry. (Oh, and it’s okay to use the word fiancé; furries speak English, too. LOL. Fiancé would actually be the more accurate term if you are engaged.)
You should know, though, that you shouldn’t feel obligated to try and be a furry yourself if you really don’t want to. My husbear is not a furry, but he’s fur-friendly, meaning he’s totally cool with my dressing in a fursuit and going to conventions and such, but he doesn’t feel like he has to take on a fursona, commission a fursuit, and watch Kung Fu Panda I and II with me. That’s cool. As a couple, you don’t have to have everything in common. In fact, having some different interests spices up the relationship because you have different things to talk about. For instance, my ex is really into crafts like beading and cross stitch and quilting. I never was, but I was always supportive of that and it gave us something to talk about other than what we already did together. My current mate is totally into radio, TV, and Internet media, as well as Disco and television shows from the 1950s to 1980s. While I have some mild interest in those things, I’m not gaga over them, but it’s fun to talk to him about it, as well as hilarious to watch him break into a dance routine in a grocery aisle when Gloria Gaynor starts singing “I Will Survive” over the speakers.
I just wanted you to understand that was an option.
But to the question at paw: how to get over the fear of fursuits? Intellectually, you know that they are harmless, so, just as with my freaking out about clowns, you know this is an emotional response. These emotional reflexes stem deep within the more primitive regions of our brains, which influence us greatly especially in childhood. If you had encountered that Pikachu as an adult rather than as a young girl, you likely would not have this current fear because your adult mind would recognize it as a human being inside a cheesy costume. As a child, though, what you saw was this huge yellow creature with big eyes and freaky human hands looming over your little body. Yeah, scary.
The best way to overcome this is through behavior modification therapy. That is, slowly working on altering your behavior through various exercises and gradual exposure to those things you fear. Here are a few things to try:
1. Ask your fiancé to wear his fursuit around the house, but without the head and with the zipper undone so you can clearly see that it is your mate in the fursuit. Have him do that until you are comfortable, then have him zip up the fursuit and be completely covered except for his head. When you are comfortable with that, have him wear just the head, but not the rest of the fursuit (his face is now anonymous, but you recognize the rest). Then, have him wear the entire fursuit around the house, but have him speak in the fursuit so you hear his voice. And, lastly, the entire suit but he stays silent and in character.
2. Dress in a fursuit yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and strike silly poses. Try to laugh at yourself at how fun you look. Laughter is an excellent way of overcoming fears.
3. Look at pictures of fursuiters and fursuiters in videos, too. This is a good way to get used to them without feeling threatened because they are next to you in real life. Just as watching a horror movie over and over again can make us realize that we are not in any real danger.
4. After doing all of the above, test how you are doing by hanging out with your mate and his furiends again at a meet or other fursuit gathering and see how you are doing. Hopefully, you will feel calmer and, if you can do this last step, you should be okay to go to VancouFur.
If the above doesn’t work, you might need to seek some professional help to overcome your fears. You might even try hypnotism, which, I understand, can actually work for many people.
Hope this helps! You’re a good mate, and I hope your fiancé appreciates you!
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.