Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Category: Society and culture

Meet Robert Hill: Artist, performer, and history’s first sexy fursuiter.

by Patch O'Furr

Come my pelted pals, gather around… and look back to the distant, dusty past Before Furry Cons.  A time when seeing a sexy “fursuit crush” in public was as unimaginable as looking at them on a phone in your pocket. (A phone with the brightness dialed all the way down, of course.)

It was the 1980’s, when apparently everything was written by eye-blasting lasers with no dial-down button, so wear your raddest shades:

Let’s meet a pioneer. It’s not a label anyone chooses, but what else do you call the first fursuiter at the first furry convention? (ConFurence 0… actually a test before the first one). And they weren’t just a generic cute thing you could see at Disneyland, but a *look away kids!* pleather-clad dominatrix deer. Schwing!

Astonishing vintage VHS footage of this Bigfoot-like creature was unearthed by Changa Lion, archivist for the Prancing Skiltaire (the furry house run by the founders of ConFurence in Southern California.) When Changa posted Hilda’s 1989 con video to Youtube, it went viral outside of fandom (with over 75,000 views to date). Then he found an even earlier one that few have seen until now.

In a way, these are like the Declaration of Sex-Positive Furry Independence. (Obligatory disclaimer for subscribers to the squeaky-clean side of fandom: that’s just one kind of furry, not all of them.)

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The Complexities of Problematic Kinks – guest post by Maybelle Redmond

by Patch O'Furr

This extra long article is published whole instead of by parts to preserve context. Quoted people were anonymized to protect sensitive personal info. Their ID was provided privately so I could verify it. Thanks to Maybelle for submitting this. – Patch

Maybelle Redmond’s content warning and disclaimer about The Complexities of Problematic Kinks

Before we even begin to touch on these things, we must first and foremost consider the victims, and ardent defenders of the victims, who have been susceptible to abuse that problematic kinks tend to surround or be on the border of. If you are a victim of, are close to a victim of, or feel passionately for victims of abuse, you are the people being considered up front. While we will discuss some details of some problematic kinks, you are being warned in advance with the opportunity to skip or avoid the provided details, and you are perfectly justified to close this article and not consume what you may feel is a potential excuse for abuse. It’s valid to ignore details of why others consume and perform problematic kinks, for the sake of your psychological safety or if you feel that it could legitimize them. Don’t engage in something you feel uncomfortable with. It’s not fair that it can be difficult to avoid abusive triggers within a community you enjoy. Your needs need to come first in this discussion. One of these needs may be to shield yourself. If you wish to do that, please close the article now.

Introduction

While attempting to Google exactly what is considered a problematic kink, a lot of its definition appears to be based in open-ended discourse.[1] Nonetheless, a very common theme arises: a “problematic kink” can be defined as “a kink derived from some kind of abuse or potential abuse situation.” While feminist-detractors may tell you that the concept of problematic kinks simply means “every kink is problematic,”[2] that’s absolutely not how it’s being used in common discourse. Multiple discussions regarding problematic kinks revolve around abuse and potential abuse situations, particularly these specific themes:

  • Bestiality
  • Incest
  • Pedophilia
  • Rape

There are many more potentially abusive and problematic kink scenarios, such as authoritarian coercion and human trafficking, but this brief list tends to be the hot button issues when it comes to problematic kinks. For good reason– these tend to be the abuse issues that enter people’s lives most frequently.

Furries can have a tendency to come from some kind of coercive environment. Some were bullied at school. Some had paternal abuse, neglect, or zero paternal support in our lives. Some were just so socially awkward they had no choice but to evolve online due to rejection felt by society. Nonetheless, regardless of why we came here, we have the freedom to explore our fantasies and minds in amazingly constructive ways that most other humans never get to experience. But of course, because these problematic fantasies aren’t always just fantasies, and ambiguity can only be clearly seen in hindsight as crossing a line — we do need a means of protecting the victims of said abusive scenarios, for the sake of maintaining a sense of protection often sought as part of this fandom.

That’s because abusers exist here too. And abusers consume problematic kinks as well. We’ve seen high profile abusers over and over again, from the graymuzzle memory of William Shaw (aka “DiveFox”) being publicly condemned for his child chasing and grooming patterns on Judge Mathis[3], to Frank Gembeck‘s arrest and conviction over extreme child pornography[4] and as recent as the revelations that Adam Wan (aka “Zaush”) is willing to accept the razor-thin legality of using legally-evasive photography of sexualized children as reference material.[5] This is nowhere near an exhaustive list of abusers in this community. In fact, these are merely the abusers that have been proven to demonstrate some sort of abusive behavior. More lurk in the community because they are extremely effective at silencing their victims– one of which we’ll be naming later on. To reassure the reader, their abuse will neither be excused nor glorified in this article.

Thus, we will first discuss the positives of problematic kinks; from how they relate to healing abuse victims, to how they relate to sexuality with abuse aspects abstracted, outright removed or controlled. To separate the positive aspects from potentially abusive or murky situations which could also be positive, there will also be a discussion of gray areas in problematic kinks; discussing how they can sometimes both be a therapeutic tool, a justification of one’s abusive tendencies, or a means of reinforcing one’s victimization.

Then finally, we will also discuss the negatives of problematic kinks, from how they enable abusers to justify their behavior, to how they use the content produced for their kink as a means of potentially grooming new victims. We will also discuss what can be done to protect victims, safe play of these problematic kinks and consumption of the content, while simultaneously attempting to discourage the real-world abuse situations these problematic kinks revolve around.

First, though, we need some primer before we begin: a clarification of terminology.

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FurAffinity updates Code of Conduct, backlash by hate groups promoted by 2 Gryphon

by Patch O'Furr

IN THIS ARTICLE: FurAffinity bans hate groups – click through the Twitter threads to see many screenshots of what they were promoting. 

The true story of FurAffinity account bans

Furry art is full of cute, cuddly cartoons. Many FurAffinity users wanted to know – why was the site being used for hate imagery? If the art has to be edgy, couldn’t they just stick to good old-fashioned Hyper Diaper Pokemon Porn or whatever? At least sex is positive and life-affirming.

On the site and on Twitter, protest rose against activity that seemed to violate the Code of Conduct, while complaints were being dismissed by site staff. The CoC looked toothless because promotion of hate groups was excused with an exception for “fictional” activity.

What furry stuff ISN’T fictional? And depicting hate imagery in a positive light IS promotion. That’s part of the history of propaganda. And making excuses that it’s just historical interest reminds me of when I used to sell rare books at an antique mall; let’s be honest here, that chicken-necked skinhead with a swastika on his elbow wasn’t visiting that creepy dealer down the lane just for memorabilia. (His money was no good to me.)

During the protesting, FurAffinity users openly claiming to be alt-right trolls were gloating about driving traffic from the site and taunting those who left. That’s like getting acquitted for a hate crime and then mooning the judge. Sometimes nazis dress to impress, but nobody ever accuses them of being smart.

The dumpster fire kept burning until the complaints started tagging FurAffinity’s corporate owner IMVU. Perhaps they got worried about their anime-eyed avatars being the lesser evil on the site.

Soon the Code of Conduct was updated, and dozens of accounts went dark. It seemed to follow a precedent set a few months earlier when Discord Inc. flushed many of the same assholes and their alt-right servers down the drain.

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Furry Dance Parties in Europe – A look by Soffy

by Patch O'Furr

Independent dance parties by furries, for furries: the concept has been growing around the world since the late 2000’s. It can spin off from cons, but doesn’t depend on them. It’s more ambitious than informal meets and events that happen once. Those can stay inner-focused, but dances bring new partnership and support from overlapping communities and new kinds of venues. It crosses a line to public space, so a stranger can walk in and discover their new favorite thing. It encourages new blood and crossover. It makes subculture thrive. It’s a movement!

Parties that give a Q&A get a featured article. See The Furclub survey for questions and party list.

The big list recently got enough entries that it needed to be split between continents. It brought a tip about a bunch of Euro and German parties that hadn’t caught notice, too many for an article for each. There are already well established ones on the main list, so this is just the extras. Most seem to be once-a-year, which makes it great to find so many.  Soffy, a journalist and furry in the UK, stepped up to collect them. (Thanks Soffy!)

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Meet Emma the Tiger – A Showcase of Fandom Love from BLFC 2018

by Pup Matthias

Thanks to Matthias and Rune of Rune’s Furry Blog. Her guest article about the story was submitted at the same time, so some of her info is included too. – Patch

This was the sixth year for Biggest Little Fur Con (BLFC), one of the biggest and fastest growing furry conventions in the fandom. Last year it had over 3,500 attendees and raised $36,000 for charity. This con has been The Con on many Furries lips… (or is that maws?) Many furs will travel far and wide to attend for a weekend of anthropomorphic fun. It’s attended by many fandom favorite suiters and seems to have good control of its public image.

However, with cons as big as BLFC, news and drama from within can spread like wildfire on social media, for better or worse, becoming the “face” of the convention for that year. Things were going smoothly at first, but during the con it was reported that a 10 year old girl was a target of verbal bullying.

The story of Emma the Tiger and how she almost left the fandom emerged on Twitter.  A user posted a screen grab from Instagram by Krysta Kennedy (xrainbowdawnx) explaining what happened. Emma was there for the fursuit photo shoot that takes place at every con’s massive fursuit gathering. She was approached by two mice who started to mock her fursuit. Emma was so embarrassed that she ran out without her father, saying that she hated being a furry and didn’t want to be in the fandom anymore.

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AZ Republican Leader Exploits Furries To Disguise Anti-LGBT Policy, “Concentration Camp”

by Patch O'Furr

By Tempe O’Kun and Patch, with thanks to Tonya Song for interview questions.

Recently, AZ Rep. Kelly Townsend (a politician in the Arizona House of Representatives since 2013) stumbled into the furry fandom.  She’d been threatening to sue teachers who were organizing for resources to fix a crisis in schools with leaky roofs, 25-year-old textbooks, rats in classrooms, and no budget to afford toilet paper. It all started when she responded to criticism by Pepper Coyote, a furry who happens to be a teacher in Arizona.

Furries, as we are naturally inclined to do, welcomed the curiosity with the usual range of mostly-SFW responses. This sort of interaction happens with some regularity. Some innocent outsider happens upon the fandom, and we get to watch him or her discover the wacky world of talking animals. Sometimes they even become a loved fixture of the community like Boozy Badger.

Except that’s not what’s happening here.

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Eagle Furdance swoops in with a dance party for Swiss fandom – with bowling!

by Patch O'Furr

Furclub: “A repeat/regular nightclub event by furries for furries.” The concept has been spreading since the late 2000’s. It’s a dance party independent from cons. It builds on their growth, but takes things farther. It’s more ambitious than informal meets and events that happen once. Those can stay inner-focused, but this brings partnership with new kinds of venues, and new support for what they host. It crosses a line to public space, so a stranger can walk in and discover their new favorite thing. It encourages new blood and crossover to other scenes. It makes subculture thrive. It’s a movement!

Parties that give a Q&A get a featured article. See The Furclub survey for questions and party list. Here’s Eagle Furdance in Switzerland, introduced by organizer Avalon Bluejay. Their 4th party happened on April 28, 2018.

Who is involved? 

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The Cure for Ignorance and Apathy on Furry YouTube.

by Patch O'Furr

Editorial with Sam Hyena in collaboration with Patch.

Ignorance and Apathy on Furry YouTube

Over the last 2 years with the demise of Vine, many Furries have started to migrate over to YouTube. Many have amassed groups of followers, hold regular livestreams on Twitch, or have Patreons. And some have used this platform as a guise to get away with borderline toxic or outright hateful behavior.

The platform makes every click content-neutral. Getting attention for any reason gets advantage over quality, so being edgy plays to the lowest-common-denominator. Lines get persistently pushed, and suddenly things that aren’t debatable at all get some asshole demanding a debate. Is the earth round, is evolution real, should racist altfurries get kicked to the curb after swatting Califur? Yes, yes, and yes, if we’re all telling the truth.  But unending conflict between “sides” is a substitute for good stories, real jokes or having anything sincere to say. It brings the clicks that raise clout for edgy people.

While the line-pushers thrive on conflict, faux-“centrists” tag along and enable them, trying to play all the sides and turning definitions to mush. They do posing about freedom, but really have no side except mercenary selfishness. It’s a cooked-up conflict between people who act in good faith vs. people with none.

In this barrel-scraping free-for-all, there’s many examples of people doing it and it goes way beyond just furries. Let’s name names.

In 2017, JonTron did a livestream with right-wing commentator SargonOfAkkad in support of Donald Trump, which continued on social media and this video, where he promotes reactionary “white identitarianism” while denying that’s what it is. (They love disguising it as “both sides” centrism to cook up a “debate” that spreads the racist side no matter who “wins”.) The first step is calling white a race, for false equivalence between an arbitrary label and specific conditions – like being redlined or arrested for sitting in a Starbucks while black. It’s as disingenuous as saying that incident wasn’t racist because they served black coffee.

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“Naughty Bits” fursuit video shoot with Rachel Lark – sex-positive art in the age of Trump.

by Patch O'Furr

(Adult content)

Armed with a ukelele and raunchy/smart songs like “Fuck My Toe”, Rachel Lark is an Oakland, CA based singer-songwriter with a fierce and funny voice. She has a new song, “Naughty Bits”, that playfully protests against sex-negative politics. It’s a response to SESTA, a law against sex trafficking that throws free expression under the bus. Furry dating site Pounced closed in fear of overreach of the law.

For those of you who don’t know what’s up with SESTA (and I’m not judging, there’s a lot going on these days) here’s what you should know….

1. It equates all sex work with sex trafficking (not the same thing)
2. It hurts sex workers AND victims of sex trafficking
3. It has serious and scary implications for free speech on the internet
4. It potentially criminalizes sex worker solidarity and advocacy

This law sucks, but when things suck, we make art, and that’s the only way out of the despair. Rachel Lark

Rachel wrote an in-depth article about this: SESTA, Sex Work, and Art in the Age of Trump.

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Remembering Kim Wall, a journalist who found the best side of furries.

by Patch O'Furr

Furries are on a list of news articles by Kim Wall:

  • How Cubans deliver culture without internet
  • Inside the Ugandan Mall at the Center of China’s East African Investments
  • Asian, queer and dancing defiance: ‘Everything we do now is resistance’
  • When China’s Feminists Came to Washington
  • Ghost Stories: Idi Amin’s torture chambers
  • The Magic Kingdom Meets the Middle Kingdom in Shanghai Disneyland
  • Tour Buses to Sri Lanka’s Battlefields
  • Can This Tiny Island Restore Haitian Tourism?
  • It’s not about sex, it’s about identity: why furries are unique among fan cultures

Does it feel special to be on such an interesting list? It’s on a site for Kim Wall and her work. She was an independent journalist writing about identity, gender, pop-culture, social justice and foreign policy. Tributes from people who knew her paint a portrait of a talented person full of curiosity, who made a warm and lasting impression. Her stories spread that vibe on behalf of their subjects.

This headline understands- “It’s not about sex, it’s about identity: why furries are unique among fan cultures”. The story mentions bad media attention and furries being targets of hate while they celebrate self-expression. In my opinion, we were lucky to get such a good story and it’s one of a handful of the best you can find. This is why to welcome media notice if this little subculture is going to get it.

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