Firstly, I'd like to say thank you for taking the time to respond to my letter. It is fantastic to have some where to go to ask questions or even just talk about things related to the fandom.
Secondly, I've had some thoughts on my mind related to the type of image our fandom presents to the public. I would like to know if you might be able to provide some words of wisdom for myself and others to avoid potentially damaging publicity while in the presence of those who aren't associated with the fandom.
Specifically, I've noticed that often times we can be our own worst enemy and there doesn't seem to be much in the way of policing each other when some of our (usually well meaning) folks decide to be lewd or inappropriate. This usually tends to be at conventions where the hotel is being shared with people who have no idea what a furry even is. It can be as simple as a poorly timed
naughty joke (pun not intended) or sometimes as serious as inappropriate PDA.
Now with that in mind, I love that we have come as far as we have with replacing negative stereotypes through acts of kindness and good folks but I fear the damage that can be done by being complacent around this behavior could undo all of that. Ultimately, we are all ambassadors for this fandom and people are watching to see what we're about.
It really worries me how quickly someone’s curiosity can go to disgust just because of a joke. We are certainly familiar with our own brand of comedy among other things but to someone experiencing it for the first time it may be disturbing.
On a couple of occasions I've tried to politely address the issue with some furs but, unfortunately, they didn't seem to be worried about it.
I've thought about going to the convention staff but there is not really anything they can do about it unless they catch someone in the act. Most of the time it’s just a few people out of the hundreds or thousands that are attending.
So, Papa Bear, do you have any advice for handling these situations? In addition to that would it be best for me to just let it go?
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When it comes to conventions, each organization that runs a furcon has security people staffing the place. They also have codes of behavior, such as are listed on this page on the Anthrocon website. Con attendees are expected to adhere to these guidelines, and, if they cause considerable trouble, they will be evicted from the event. Usually, such great lengths are reserved for heinous behaviors, such as hard drug use, damaging hotel property, assault and battery, etc. etc.
Minor things such as displays of public affection (PDAs) or an off-color joke are not serious enough for such action (unless the PDA involves nudity or something like dry-humping someone, I would assume). Conventions can be problematic because you can get attendees who are young, undisciplined, and, when away from parental supervision, act like felines high on catnip. Naturally, if they are acting like derps and someone who has no authority (such as you) tells them to knock it off, they are going to cop an attitude about it and either ignore you or tell you to take a hike (probably using more colorful words than that).
Usually, minor, slightly offensive behavior is not a problem because you are surrounded by other furries, but yes, many times there can be other guests at a hotel that is hosting a furcon. In my experience, such guests usually look at you with a befuddled stare and think you're nuts, while others smile and think it is amusing, no harm done. As long as you are leaving the other guests alone, it should not be a problem.
So, I'm guessing what you might be talking about is some naughty verbal interactions between furries that are observed by mundane guests and how this might make all furries look bad. But if you see such behavior and admonish the culprits, by then it is too late; the mundane guests have viewed or heard the bad behavior and their impressions have been influenced accordingly.
Papabear's view is this: if you see a violation of furcon policy you should report it to security or to the people staffing Operations. Anything else, don't worry about it. You cannot control the behavior of all the immature derps out there; just not gonna work out and is more likely to give you acid indigestion than actually improve the situation. Let it be and focus on having a good time and behaving like a good furry. Give the mundane guests an example of what it is to be a good furry.
We individual furries are not in charge of the reputation of the furry fandom, just our own behavior within it. Control what you can control and let the rest go. Yes, we are all "ambassadors" of the fandom, but that just goes as far as your own behavior. Trying to control everyone else's will just drive you crazy.
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