How to Pick Up (Furry) Women

21 Oct 2013 |

The number of straight (or bi) male furries far outweighs the number of straight (or bi) female furries. Around 1 in 5 furries are female, and some of those are gay or asexual. We looked at the numbers last year and estimated that about 16% of furries—1 in 6—are women who may be interested in a relationship with a guy. And many of those will already be in a relationship, or otherwise not available.

You can read how we reached that conclusion, along with some discussion in a previous article (which has my favourite title to date): It's Raining Men. It shows how furry's gender imbalance and sexual orientation demographics conspire to make it difficult for heterosexual guys to find a relationship with a fellow furry. (It's even worse if you're a furry lesbian.)

This article is a guide to how a heterosexual male can maximize his chances of finding a furry girlfriend; without being a stalker, without pulling any pick-up-artistry nonsense, and without being creepy or otherwise contributing to the problem that's keeping women away from the furry community.

It's true that women are staying away from public furry gatherings, and they're staying away because they are being harassed by men who are hoping to pick them up, talk to them, or just make friends. Data collected online (ref Furrypoll) and data collected at large conventions (ref IARP) show this trend: online we're (around) 80% male; at conventions we're (around) 90% male.

We furries have the same problem as gamers, cosplayers, and sports fans: if you're female and wish to attend an event, you have to prepare yourself for the possibility of receiving unwelcome attention. Some women are naturally more able to ignore or combat this attention; other women simply stop going. And so we tend to mostly see women who are happy enough dealing with this nonsense, and we tend to think of these women as normal. It's easy to hold them up as an example for all women, and to suggest that all women should consider unsolicited male attention 'in the right spirit', or as an 'ego boost'.

Such standards are wrong. It serves to reinforce the idea that women should be able to deal with unwanted advances themselves... and so the shy, the young, and the I've-had-enough-of-this-crap crowd stay away.

So the first rule for meeting furry women is to consider a public furry gathering to be a Safe Space. This means that you should never approach a women with the intent of striking up a conversation, and you should encourage your male friends to follow the same example. Furry gatherings are a place for people, men and women, to socialize with friends. If a guy is inserting himself into a social group because he is motivated by the chance to meet someone of the opposite sex, then he is breaking the tacit social contract, and needs to cut it out.

It sounds counter-intuitive to suggest that, in order to meet more furry women, you should avoid introducing yourself at a social gathering. But such non-action is simply respectful and fair, and will save you from being labelled as a creep.

I am suggesting, by the way, that you treat men differently from women. You can reasonably initiate social contact with (most) men. It's easy to see this as a double standard.

It's not a double standard, because there is a difference in the experiences of men and women. Women live in a world where sexual harassment is a very real problem, where men being assertive can be perceived to be threatening, and where women feel like they need to be on their guard in case a friendly gesture is misinterpreted. Men don't have the same problem because the social stakes are not loaded: it's a lot easier for a man to brush off the advances of another man, and take it as an ego boost.

It's a similar situation to how you should treat a celebrity, perhaps at a furry convention. People who are well known will be in demand, and they may find themselves constantly interrupted by well-meaning fans. There are opportunities for fans to meet and socialize with the celebrity, but these need to be controlled by the celebrity, otherwise they risk being overwhelmed by the attention. And if the celebrity can't reasonably control the social demand placed on them, they must leave.

Women can find themselves in a similar situation, with the added pressure of the male-dominated gender imbalance. A single approach, no matter how friendly and well-meaning, can be sufficiently difficult such that it undermines all the good things about being around friends and furries at a gathering.

I feel like I'm wading into the territory of men's rights here, a mostly internet-based philosophy that suggests that men have the raw end of the gender stick. Men's rights advocates are usually well-meaning, but are misguided. They would suggest that it's unfair that there are special rules that apply to men when talking to women, compared to any other situation (man talking to man, woman talking to man, woman talking to woman). They are right that it's different, but it's not unfair... not towards men anyway.

The men's rights movement thinks that the genders should be treated equally. As it turns out, this is a pretty good definition of the goal of feminism. There is a conflict because the men's-righters are largely ignorant to the challenges that are faced by women (but not faced by men). Men's-righters suggest that we should be gender-blind, which is the sort of bone-headed idealization of the real world that might inform a high-concept Star Trek episode.

I don't want to delve too deeply into feminism or the bizarro world of men's rights here. It's interesting stuff but it's not the topic of this article. I accept that some readers might challenge my characterization of men's rights, and I'm happy to participate in a wider discussion: perhaps in a co-authored point-counterpoint article for future publication here on [a][s]. If you're interested, drop me a line (jm@furrynet.com).

Before I move on, I want to give a modern example of a challenge uniquely faced by women: the concept of the 'friendzone'. The idea is that if a guy has a female friend, he runs the risk of being seen as only a friend and not a potential romantic parter—he is in the 'friendzone'. It's a concept rooted in the idea that men want women, but that women don't want men. The idea is part misogyny and part self-hatred (it's self-hatred because it suggests that only women can be attractive). The worst aspect of the 'friendzone concept is that it implies that the friendship of the woman in question is only worth having because of the possibility of a romantic relationship. It's a term that reinforces the inferiority of women to men; a male-male friendship would never be debased in such a way.

The plight of women in furry goes largely unrecognized or unnoticed because of majority privilege. We are male-dominated, and so our collective experience is largely male-centric. Contrary points of view, perhaps like some expressed in this article, are treated with natural skepticism because they challenge the agreed groupthink. And so women who express unhappiness with their social experience are disregarded for being fringe—after all, we have lots of gay guys in furry and straight guys don't mind getting hit on occasionally, and that's just the same right? We men don't experience things from the women's point of view, so we are unable to empathize.

But we can sympathize. And we can behave in a way that makes furry a welcoming environment for everyone.

So, guys, here is how to meet a furry woman:

  1. Furry gatherings are a Safe Space. Don't approach any woman who is not already a good friend.
  2. You are playing a numbers game. You are going to have to meet, and get to know, 10 to 20 people for each potentially eligible woman. Be patient.
  3. So be social, especially online. Get to know people, regardless of gender, in different social circles. You will meet new people through the connections of friends-of-friends.
  4. Do not pursue a relationship with someone until you are already good friends. You should have known her for months, not weeks or days. You should have met several times in person and be comfortable in one another's company.
  5. If you are interested in someone, ask online or over text (not in person) whether she is interested. Make it brief and respectful. If she isn't interested, drop it. Forever. Consider this person for evermore to be a friend of yours.

(And if you're a guy, and you're interested in a male friend? You can be more direct. The social dynamics are different: if he's not interested, he's much less likely to find it threatening or inappropriate.)

Being single can be lonely. It can be easy to think of a relationship as something you need. This is compelling but flawed: relationships don't come on demand.

So if you are single, take the opportunity to focus on yourself. Work towards meeting your own emotional and social needs, and work towards making your future self as attractive as possible. You can do this by learning new things, broadening your interests, and generally doing things that you know are good for you.

And if you are feeling isolated, have a read of this article geared towards the lonely fur: A Rough Guide To Loneliness.