Why furries should care about politics in 2018 – guest post by WhiteClaw.

by Patch O'Furr

There seemed to be a tipping point when outsiders started looking deeper into furry fandom, more than tapping on the zoo window and making lazy jokes. They started writing things better than “those freaks” or “Furry 101”. Then there was a change beyond warmer media (whose approval isn’t needed, anyways). Members started standing for a growing and more grown-up community by ditching some excess baggage. It was the best of both worlds – people caring more and all the fun and freedom too. Of course failures tag along when you have more people getting involved. For example, at Midwest FurFest 2017, there was drama about one guy being arrested for trolling. But that was just one. The real story was about success of the con heading towards 10,000 happy attendees.

Making room for more and better things means caring in many ways. Here’s a look at one way. Thanks to Whiteclaw for the guest post. (- Patch)

Why furries should care about politics – by Whiteclaw.

Politics + anthropomorphism = great art

“Keep politics out of furry.”

You’ve probably seen this type of comment. Maybe you’ve made it yourself. Given its polarizing nature, talking about politics is a fast way to lose friends and make enemies. And that’s just with regular people. So why bring it into the fandom?

Furries are a group of people that love anthromorphic animals. But the key word there is “people.” Because behind every fox/wolf/cat/badger/dragon/etc. is a person. And that person is affected by politics. The fact that we roleplay as animals online doesn’t change this.

“Furry is an escape. I shouldn’t have to talk about politics here.”

There’s a valid point here in that we can’t and shouldn’t be focused on politics every second of every day. Yes we sometimes need to take a break from the awfulness of the world and furry is a great way to do that.

But an escape in this sense implies a break or a time-out. It suggests that we’re involved in dealing with these issues at some point. And if we never do, if we’re always “escaping” politics, then furry isn’t an escape, it’s an excuse.

More than that, furry doesn’t have to be just something you do, it can be something you are. In the 1990’s there was a split between fans who only looked up to professional artists, and ones they looked down on as “lifestylers” for acting like their own community. Now it is one. Politics affects our community the same way it does any other. The sheer diversity of the fandom means that, in some ways, it affects us more.

“I don’t care about politics, and I don’t see the point in talking about it.”

Well that, my friend, brings us to that very pesky word we all know and hate: Privilege. Yes, I know you’ve all heard it. White privilege. Straight privilege. Male privilege. Cis privilege. Privilege, privilege, privilege. Sick of hearing about it yet?

But the sad reality is that it exists. And the most insidious thing about it is this: Not having to think about privilege is the greatest privilege of all.

If you’re not a minority, or more importantly if you aren’t treated as one, it’s a lot easier to sweep all this talk about rights and status under the rug. You can say, “I’m just a big, dumb, fun-loving dog on the internet,” and ignore things like systemic racism and double standards. But the further down the totem pole you are, the more it affects your every-day life, furry or otherwise.

So before you declare politics a non-issue, consider that not everyone else in our community has that luxury. And when you say, “All I care about is furry,” what you’re also saying is, “I don’t care about problems that don’t directly affect me.”

It also means you don’t care about what happens to your fellow furs who don’t share all the same privileges as you.

“Okay, but I deal with politics outside of furry. Can’t furry be a safe space?”

The worry that came true

Well, yes and no. First, let’s talk about the big problem we have in the fandom: The Furry Raiders.

Once upon a time, if you had someone in the fandom that was problematic, we could pretty easily blacklist them. But the furry community has grown. The reason con attendances go up every year is because the size of the fandom has also increased. While that’s largely a good thing, it comes with its own set of problems.

If for every 100 furs, there’s 1 problematic person, then having 1,000 furries means we only have to deal with 10 people who are a problem. Up that number to 10,000 furs and suddenly we have 100 toxic people to deal with.

On their own, these people aren’t that big an issue, but with changes in the current political climate, these people have banded together, and branded themselves AltFurry (a play on the term AltRight) as well as creating a group called The Furry Raiders.

Put simply, this is a hate group that calls itself furry. In reality, many of these people aren’t actually furries. The fandom’s open and inclusive nature and the fact that we’re often looked down on, even by other subcultures, makes us an easy target for hate groups to infiltrate and recruit.

But it’s not just AltFurry we have a problem with. More and more, furry has started to develop its own form of celebrities, popufurs as they’re often called. While some of these people use their platform for good, others regularly and casually spout hateful rhetoric and bigoted views against minorities.

A furry might be popular because they’re an artist, have a cute fursuit, or regularly organize events for furries into other activities like sports, camping, or crafts. But when that same furry uses their platform to spread hate and bigotry, we can’t just ignore these statements because we enjoy the other content they provide.

In short, politics has come to furry whether we want it to or not. And ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. If anything, supporting someone who has a hateful stance, just because you like the content they put out, only helps to spread their messages of hate.

But let’s say you’re just here to look at cute animals and have a good time. Maybe furry truly is an escape or safe space for you. And there’s nothing wrong with that, per se. But if that’s the case…then the furry fandom doesn’t mean that much to you.

WAIT! Put down your torches and pitchforks! Or at least give me a chance to address that comment you’re already composing. I’m not acting as the furry gatekeeper here. I’m not saying you can’t be furry or that you somehow aren’t a “true furry.” There’s not a lot in the way of strict definitions for what even makes someone a furry.

And there’s nothing wrong with furry not being that important to you. If you’re younger, there’s probably a lot more going on in your life as you try to decide who you are and the directions you want to go. If you’re older, you probably just have higher priorities.

But if you’re someone that could take or leave furry, who doesn’t find it a dominating factor in your life, then consider that others do. And we care about making this fandom a safe, inclusive environment.

So if you care about this fandom, beyond simply enjoying the content it produces, then understand that we have to address these issues within furry. Politics isn’t something we can just ignore. It affects all of us, whether we like it or not.

– Whiteclaw

More thoughts:

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