Gay Furries and Sexism: A Recursive Loop

11 May 2014 | Guest Poster

Guest post by Witchie (@witchiebunny). Witchie is just, loyal, patient and true just like any other Hufflepuff. She also thinks way too much for her own good.

At the risk of sounding clichéd, please allow me to introduce myself: I am commonly known as Witchiebunny; artist, gamer, sometime podcaster and all around good-natured lapine.

I noticed a recent article here on [a][s] made reference to a post of mine on another blog from sometime ago. I addressed a conversation I found myself in whilst dealing with some comments I felt, and still do feel, were sexist.

For a bit of contextual framing: at the time I was a Fur Affinity admin using various communities, including Livejournal,  as a way to stay in contact with users who did not generally get face-time with FA admins any other way. In the process of reading a post regarding a then fellow admin, I noticed a comment made about said colleague by a male, and gay, furry:

"Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that she goes on the warpath every 28 days or so?"

 

Guys, if you're out there, reading this, let me give you this bit of advice: period jokes aren't funny. They're not cool, and the only ones who are going to laugh are those who, in general, hate women.

Upon reading this comment, I replied. "Not cool," said I. "Seriously, I hate misogynistic comments like this."

The response? "*shrugs* meh."

Meh? That's it? Called out on your misogyny and all you can say for yourself is "Meh"?

Eventually, I was told that it was simply a joke that I was reading way too much into and that I was overthinking. My favorite was the apology given:

"okay... let me clarify this since you're taking this waaaay to personally.

this was a stab at [insert name of admin here], not all women everywhere. if it was interpreted as being a stab at all women everywhere, well, it was never intended as such.

better?"

 

This is an attitude I’ve encountered all over the internet, but never so prevalently waved around, and proudly, than among gay men within the furry fandom.

As a perfect example, I once engaged in a conversation with a friend who was opposed to the idea of breastfeeding in public. He called it gross, and disgusting. (the discussion of public breastfeeding is one for another time and blog, and won’t be gone into here.) I stuck up for the right to breastfeed in public and was presented with an analogy of public breastfeeding to public fellatio. Upon calling out this comment as misogynistic, I was contacted by this friend’s boyfriend whom I was also friends with, and asked why I was trying to “censor” his SO.

The conversation came down to this friend’s assertions of the following points:

  1. Women want special treatment to feed their babies in public because they’re too selfish to stay at home and feed in private where it’s proper,
  2. Women didn’t want this special treatment in the past, because these are recent laws and what about women who just made do with this in hundreds of years prior,
  3. That women always wanted special treatment for stuff and why couldn’t they just suck it up like men.

All of which culminated into:

  1. That I, as a woman and also as a minority had MORE power and privilege than he did as a cisgendered white male.

Now I make no bones about, nor apologize for the fact that I am a feminist of a certain stripe. There are certain words and behaviors that I recognize as being sexist and harmful, and I recognize the attitudes that, at the core, make up these behaviors.

To give a very basic understanding of my brand of feminism (which doesn't go far enough, by some standards and goes way too far, apparently, by others): I recognize that there is an inherent sexism that we, as a western society, have been socialized into thinking is acceptable, normal behavior. While I stop short of declaring that men and women are the same, period, and that ANY generalizations based on gender are wrong and part of the problem (for indeed, I also recognize that men and women are not only different, hormonally, but are socialized differently and so, on the whole, gender-wide discrepancies, differences and patterns of behavior DO exist), I will definitely say something if I see ANYONE putting down ANY gender because of a stereotype being perpetuated.

Even so, I recognize that there is a certain level of sexism that even I adhere to and end up being an apologist for. Such is life, no one is perfect.

However there is a difference between socialized sexism (i.e a young girl being less interested in science because of the ingrained idea that it's a "man's field") and overt, over the top misogyny.

Take as an example the "Gay Furries" group on Fur Affinity. At one point, there were quite a few journal posts along the line of "Girls, ew." or "Women, vaginas, scary, disgusting, ugly..." (most of those journals have since been deleted).

You get the idea. Leaving aside the quite obvious fact that by doing this, the gay men of the group are alienating all of the gay women within the group, this is a very overt form of misogyny that is not only unapologized for, but celebrated. And it's done constantly within the fandom, in the name of gay unity, or even just “humor”.

Male gay furries constantly feel at liberty to demean, insult, and otherwise marginalize any woman they come across for the simple fact that they're a woman. And while I can understand it as a level of group-reassurance (i.e "The societal norm is to expect us to be straight, and we identify as gay, which means we're not attracted to women, so therefore in order to satisfy each other that we're all right, and all 'normal' within our peer group, we'll marginalize the apparent subject that makes us outsiders, women") this goes far beyond that. This goes into outright hate.

And if you attempt to point out to them that they are being misogynist, or sexist, the tendency (as the aforementioned furry did) is to bring up misandry, as if the fact that sometimes women hate on men validates their misogyny.

I will only say this once:

THE FACT THAT WOMEN SOMETIMES EXHIBIT A HATRED AGAINST MEN DOESN'T MAKE WHAT YOU DO RIGHT, IT MAKES EVERYONE EXHIBITING MISANDRY/MISOGYNY OR OVERT SEXISM IN GENERAL DEAD WRONG.

Misandry is typically exhibited as a retaliation against rampant and unacknowledged societal misogyny. By using it as a justification for further misogyny, a recursive loop is created.

To put it in coder terms: gender relations between (in this instance) gay men and ALL women will eventually segfault.

This is NOT rocket science. A lot of gay men don't realize that they have such a high level of misogyny, or even identify what they feel/think/believe AS misogyny, or sexism. They will say "Well I can't be a misogynist/sexist, because I have a woman friend."

This is the same thing as saying “I can’t be racist, I have black friends!

Let me tell everyone this: having a friend who falls into this general category of those you hate, even a good friend, doesn't stop one from having and exhibiting the signs of the underlying problem. Using it as a shield against accusations of being any kind of *ist usually ends demeaning the friend you claim to care so much for.

The funny thing is, if a woman speaks up against this particular stripe of misogyny or sexism, then they're an evil feminist who can't take a joke, and this from the same gay men who "can't take a joke" when the joke is a hateful homophobic one, and not a hateful misogynist one.

This is particularly bad among furries because we are ALREADY marginalized to a great degree by "mundanes" in general, and the internet as well. Socially, furries are already seen to be at the bottom of the totem pole. Do we really, truly have to further marginalize and fragment ourselves by having such hatred towards those whose only crime was an accident of birth?

I realize that this is a deeply ingrained and socialized issue, but seriously folks. Have the testicular fortitude to do some self-reflection and self-introspection. It's painful but you will be a better person for it.

And that goes for everyone.