In this whole thread of “you should not be ashamed of the fandom,” one recurring thread comes up: what about the adult stuff?
Well, that’s kind of the crux of the whole problem, right? Furry is this unusual mix of things both adult and non. Nobody has to decide whether to tell their co-workers about the one night a week they spend in the dungeon; nobody has a problem telling their co-workers about their love of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (the series, not the character…that’s a different thing). But furry is both. It’s a community of people, it’s completely innocent pictures of you as a fox person (a little weird), it’s stories with animal characters…and…it’s pictures of dog-people ****ing (h/t Knotcast). So how do you tell people you’re into the fun stuff while leaving off that you may or may not also be into the stuff you don’t want to tell them and, frankly, they don’t want to hear about?
One objection I hear is that “the fandom is [insert ridiculously high invented percentage] sex.” Well, the blog [adjective][species] did a little survey that is relevant to that. Turns out that most people in the fandom think sex is a lot more important to other people than it is to them.
Yeah, we all have this perception that everyone else is just in the fandom for the porn. “Most” of the art uploaded to FA is porn (really, it’s closer to a quarter, even counting “mature” and “adult” together as adult). “Most” of the coverage of the fandom in the media revolves around the sex (truer about ten or fifteen years ago than now); as if it’s a surprise that the media would focus on the most sensational and tawdry aspect of anything they cover. Sure, some of the most popular artists (and authors) in the fandom are known for their adult work. But there are a lot of great artists and authors who aren’t, and even the ones who are also produce non-adult work (mostly; Rukis’s defiant defense of her adult work is worth reading too).
The main point I want to make here is that if you believe that the fandom is mostly about the sex, then you are contributing to the image that it is. Objectively, there is plenty to enjoy in the fandom for people who don’t want to see anything adult. As I wrote in an earlier post, focus on what you enjoy about the fandom. Yeah, if you log in to FA just to look at the porn and go to conventions for sex parties and that’s your entire exposure to the fandom, then maybe you shouldn’t tell people about it, unless you would tell them about your private life anyway (e.g. a serious romantic partner). But if you hang out with friends, and had a cool picture of your character drawn with clothes on, and built a fursuit to go bowling in… then you don’t have to tell people that you also got a commission of your character without clothes. You can tell them that the fandom is pretty open and sex-positive, and so yeah, there’s a certain amount of that floating around. But it’s not what we’re about.
And since I’m on the subject: yes, the fandom is more sex-positive and open than mainstream society. I happen to think that’s a good thing. Listen to Dan Savage sometime if you want to hear how full of screwed-up relationships the mainstream is. Here in the fandom, kinks are not only accepted but almost expected (after all, we like animal-people), and overall people have a much healthier view of sex and sexuality than I find in the mainstream. K.M. and I were in a writing group at one point where we were discussing a story that treated sex rather frankly, if euphemistically, and the majority of the class could not stop giggling about it. It was unsettlingly like being in a room full of sixth-graders. And here we were, the two authors who write about sex fairly explicitly, acting the most mature about it. It was an interesting experience…and one that just made us love the fandom even more. Then again, when I showed “Isolation Play” to my non-furry former boss, I warned her about “certain pictures” in it and then left it on the table while I went to the bathroom, leaving it to her discretion as to whether to look… and when I came back, the first thing she said was “those weren’t so bad!”
For my money, the adult side of the fandom is a positive. But I know it can also be a shock to people not used to it, so when I say “you don’t have to mention it,” I mean that it might be politically more sound to leave off that part. But hey, you never know. Your co-worker might turn up on the next Rarakie Iron Artist list…