by Quentin Long
©2009 Quentin Long
What we have here is a tale of two cultures. On the one hand, there's Mundania, the larger culture which everybody must deal with in some capacity; on the other hand, there's Furdom, the furry community, whose members are all voluntarily self-selected. While these cultures have much in common, at the same time there are also some fairly sharp differences between them
A nontrivial part of the difference is traceable to the composition of Furdom. Since the furry community is more-or-less a subset of science fiction fandom, historically speaking, its not surprising that high-IQ types, and/or people who have been rejected/abused by the mainstream culture, constitute a disproportionately high percentage of Furdom, as compared to Mundania. In other words: Furs tend to be people who either (a) have extensive personal experience with the toxic side-effects of Mundane cultures customs and mores, or (b) have figured out for themselves where Mundania gets it wrong, or (c) both. This being the case, is it really any surprise if Furs tend to actively reject some of Mundanias customs and mores?
Case in point: Censoriousness, or the lack thereof. Consider the phenomenon of pressure groups whose reason for existing is exactly and precisely to suppress things (opinions, scientific theories, works of art, etc) they dont like. In Furdom, there has been precisely one such pressure groupBurned Furand not only did said group fail to achieve any of its stated goals during the four years it lasted before imploding, but its only lasting legacy has been to thoroughly discredit its own agenda. In the Mundane world, contrariwise, pressure groups of this sort are sufficiently common, and long-lived, to constitute a recognizable subset of the US economy.
Case in point: The attitude towards coercionuse of physical force to compel other people to behave the way you want. In a wide range of contexts, from Raising Children to Dealing With Rule-Breakers and points beyond, Mundanes are far more likely than Furs to regard coercion as a suitable response to anything that contravenes the standard cultural norms. This is partly due to the fact that Mundania has a good bit of sociocultural machinery set up for coercion on various levels (i.e., police departments, the military, etc), all of which Furdom lacks; another factor is that Furs are more likely than Mundanes to regard coercion as a intrinsically evil thing which must be avoided at all costsand even those Furs who do think coercion can be justified at times, tend to agree that the Mundane culture is much too damned eager to employ coercion. When it comes to enforcing its norms on its members, Furdoms methods of choice are a great deal more likely to involve Amish-like shunning than any of the Mundane tactics which involve large and unsympathetic men armed with highly dangerous weaponry.
Case in point: Public morality vs. private morality. To the Furry mind, a persons morals are their own affair. As Furs see it, John Doe has every right to abide by whatever moral code he sees fitbut in general, Furs believe Doe has no right whatsoever to compel anybody else to follow his (Does) personal moral code. To the Mundane mind, however, morality is not just a personal thing. Rather, morality is public, to the extent that if Richard Roe happens to exhibit behavior which contravenes publicly-accepted morals, your average Mundane is likely to agree that the mere fact of that contravention, in and of itself, fully justifies the use of physical force to correct Roes behavior.
The above points go a long way towards explaining why Furdom and Mundania differ so sharply in religious makeup. In the United States, at least, nearly 80% of the citizenry belong to one Christian sect or anotherbut only 18% of Furdom can say the same. Which is only to be expected, really, in view of Christianitys long-standing track record of lining up with the Mundane side of all three points.
As well, the aforementioned points strike me as a reasonably accurate explanation for the unfortunate Furry = porn reputation which has accumulated around Furdom. Its not at all clear that the percentage of people in Furdom who create/enjoy porn is any higher than the corresponding percentage for Mundania but it is clear that the social stigma associated with porn is far greater in Mundanian culture than in Furry culture. With far less incentive to conceal their porn, those Furs who indulge in it are, therefore, far less likely to keep it under wraps than are porn-loving Mundanes. Thus, pornographers are going to be a good deal more conspicuous in Furdom than in Mundania, just becauseand since porn, by its very nature, tends to attract a disproportionately high share of attention anyway, such Furry porn as there is will, almost inevitably, end up attracting far more attention than it has any right to.
Of course, having an explanation for the Furry = porn thing doesnt make it any less annoying, mind you. And given the fact that Mundania can and does suffer the occasional psychotic witch hunt over massively deranged accusations of misbehavior, it seems to me that the Furry = porn thing could easily end up triggering an episode of mass hysteria that utterly fucking destroys Furdom.
Then again, perhaps Im being too cynical, too pessimistic. Thus far, Mundanias only reaction to the pornographic side of Furdom has been a smattering of sensationalistic articles, as opposed to, say, a series of overheated high-profile trials. And one can plausibly argue that Mundanias customs and mores are loosening up, becoming more like those of Furdom with the passage of time. So I could be wrong about this; indeed, Id very much like to be wrong about this. But I know too much history to believe that the hope of my being wrong is anything more than wishful thinking. And in view of that history, I think every Fur who produces and/or distributes furry porn should seriously ponder one of Clint Eastwoods most famous lines:
Do you feel lucky, punk? Well do you?