Evie and I had to give a presentation on the LGBT chapter of our textbook in our multicultural class, and I was a little anxious, so I’d talked to another classmate about her LGBTQ presentation she’d given in a different class. “You’d be surprised at how few even knew what LGBTQ meant,” Brittany told me.
“You’re kidding!” I replied. “How can graduate-level counseling students not know that?”
When we gave our powerpoint presentation, I began and Evie finished. As she wrapped up, Evie asked, “Does anyone have any questions?”
Evie took on Katrina’s question about how to help a nine-year-old who is gender fluid.
Another classmate, Tony, made it clear, “It’s Adam and Eve − not Adam and Steve!” He argued that LGBT was a choice and nothing more. “At the end of the day, it’s your biology that determines whether you’re male or female!”
I told Tony I wasn’t going to argue with him. His belief was his belief. Since I wouldn’t, I guess our professor decided she would argue with Tony. Professor Davis said a lot of things − sexuality is on a continuum, blah, blah, blah − before dismantling Tony’s biology argument. Dr. Davis asked, “If biology determines our sexuality, then how do you explain hermaphrodites, Tony? They’re born with both male and female sex organs. How do you explain that?”
“I can’t,” Tony admitted.
“Okay! Now we’re getting somewhere!” she said victoriously.
I raised my eyebrows when I heard the word “hermaphrodite” − an outdated term that has been replaced with “intersexed” − but I kept my mouth shut. As she finished with Tony, I did say, “Dr. Davis, I’m glad you brought up that sexuality is on a continuum because if I had one tiny criticism about this LGBT chapter − which really deals with identity and sexual orientation − it’s that I feel it’s lacking. I was surprised it didn’t mention people who, for instance, are asexual or who identify as being a furry.”
“What?!” Professor Davis frowned at me.
I tried again. “You know − people who don’t experience sexual desire and, also, people who identify, in part, as animal.”
“That is not a thing! What was that you said … fuzzy … furry … what did you call it?” she scoffed.
“Furries,” I replied.
Now Evie frowned at me. “Stop,” she mouthed at me when Dr. Davis had turned away.
Undeterred, I said, “I know at least two people who are furries and they insist that part of them is animal − but not in a biological way. I get that it’s complicated, but this is how they identify. And not that I know much, but it seems to me, this would qualify “furries” as an identity demographic outside of the majority.”
Professor Davis was furious. “You’re making this up, aren’t you? I’ve never even heard of this before!” she accused.
Our classmates listened and watched with rapt attention wondering what would happen next. If nothing else, at least Evie and I weren’t boring.
Brittany looked amused as she came to my rescue. “Uhm, I just looked this up on my phone. Google says that furries are enthusiasts who like to dress up as animals and go to conventions.”
Professor Davis said with a dismissive wave of her hand, “Well, that’s not a culture. Whatever it was that you just brought up, that doesn’t belong in multicultural counseling class!” she said, shaking her pointer finger at me.
I replied, “I’m sure what Brittany read is true, even if it seems to be a very surface definition.”
Brittany agreed, “It was just a quick Google search.”
“Again,” I said, refusing to back down, “I don’t pretend to know much. I’m just saying that I know − for some − being a furry goes much deeper than just dressing up and going to conventions. This is real, there is a community, and this is being researched at a university by a psychology professor who also identifies in this way. My point is that asexuality and furries, like LGBT, are populations on the sexual and identity continuums who are often misunderstood and denigrated.”
The class held their breath as we waited for Dr. Davis to say something. The tension between our professor and me had ratcheted up to heights none of us had experienced before. This had not been the first disagreement Dr. Davis and I had had in class. This was, however, the first time I hadn’t backed down.
Evie looked both scared and angry with me but said nothing. She decided to take another question from the class. Anything was better than the awkward silence that had befallen our classroom as Dr. Davis sat in her chair looking downward while chewing on the inside of her cheek in what looked like deep contemplation. Evie called on Karen.
“What exactly is a furry, again?” Karen asked.
Dr. Davis looked up from her chair and shook her head. She intervened before I could answer. “It doesn’t matter what that is,” she said standing up. “I do want to go over some additional information about the LGBT community, though,” she said as she took over. “Thank you for your presentation,” she said dismissing Evie and me.
We returned to our seats. After Professor Davis finished lecturing, Kyle told me he enjoyed our presentation, especially since I’d brought up something he’d never heard of before. “Asexuality or furries?” I asked.
“Furries! Who cares about asexuality. That’s no fun,” Kyle said. “I thought I’d heard or read just about everything − and I read a lot − but this is something that even I’ve never come across. It’s difficult to do, but I’m impressed!”
The energy level in our classroom had skyrocketed with everyone talking and laughing. I told Kyle I was shocked that so few people knew about furries, especially Dr. Davis. I’d known about furries for over ten years.
Professor Davis said, “Everyone, settle down. I have a few things to tell you about next week.” The class ignored her. “I SAID … STOP TALKING NOW! I NEED YOU TO HEAR WHAT I’M ABOUT TO SAY!” she yelled above the din. She then went over what we’d be doing in class the following week. “Okay. Now I’m finished and you can leave. See you next week.”
I noticed that Tony was the first one out the door, but no one else seemed to be in a hurry. People stood around and continued talking. I was chatting with Kyle, Evie and Gina. Ten full minutes after she’d dismissed class, Dr. Davis yelled from the doorway, “WHY IS EVERYONE STILL HERE? GO HOME!” More than half of our class was still in the room.
Kyle yelled back, “We’re still having class. Join us!”
“No thanks!” she replied.
The room dwindled until three of us remained. Brittany had joined Kyle and me. She reported that everyone in the room had been talking about furries. As we walked out together, I asked her, “Seriously, how many do you think had heard of furries before tonight?”
“Only a few,” Brittany answered. “Most were astonished that furries even exist. I’m glad you brought this up. It got people talking.”
“Me, too! That was one of the most enjoyable classes I’ve had in a long time,” Kyle grinned as we approached the parking lot. “Until next week,” he said as he left.
“You know, Brittany, I’m probably in trouble with Dr. Davis, but so what! I feel like I’ve done something good tonight. As future therapists, we should know about these things. Right?” I asked.
“Right!” she agreed.
“Good. I feel like my work here is done then. BOOM!” I said as I threw down my imaginary microphone.
Brittany laughed. “G’night!” she said as we parted.
As I started my car, I thought− if furries blew everyone’s minds, wait until I bring up plushies!
8 thoughts on “Furry Fury”
This was a pleasurable read, and I have never heard of furries. I’ll have to do a little research. A few years ago I read Middlesex, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jeffrey Eugenides published in 2002. This was a fascinating read about a person whose gender at birth was difficult to ascertain and since the delivery doctor was old and near sighted, the person was raised female.
It’s a amazing world full of wonder out there! It sounds like you’re already well-versed in the fact that identity/sexuality isn’t nearly as clear cut as some would like it to be. As goes the saying, “Life is what it is” — whether we like it or not! HA! Glad this reminded you of what sounds like a great read. I’ll have to check it out one of these days, when time allows! In the meantime, Sparkle on my friend and have fun exploring the world of furries!
You may have an idea for your masters thesis — “Furries”.Or, “Incompetency in the Classroom”.
It’s shocking to see a graduate level teacher not open to new ideas. Or that she didn’t challenge you to bring in proof of your claim. At the graduate level students are suppose to challenge the status quo. Then at the doctorate level break the status quo.
Challenging a teacher takes courage, and sometimes the result is not what you want. Chose your battles carefully.
Sheila, right?!!! That’s exactly how I feel! Again, you’ve hit the nail on the head with your succinct comments! Anyway, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by her reaction, after all, this is the same professor who assumed she could explain to me what my “race” was and also had never heard of presbyopia before I mentioned it — so, hey, I don’t even know where to begin! Anyway, I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to her — and I wasn’t — but she’d just dissed a friend of mine who does identify this way — and that’s where I draw the line. Needless to say, she has provided plenty of fodder for me to write about. Still, this class will not end too soon! In the meantime, I’m just going to try and stay under the radar until it does!
This was a great story. I love that you threw a wrench in your professors topic. Life is not cut and dried like so many would like us to think.
This was a good story and great read. I have to say I knew about Furries,through watching an episode of Castle. Furries are not the innocent asexual beings that maybe they portray. A lot of them use it as a sexual fetish. I recently read a news item of Furries in Buck County, Pa. Taking a 9 year old to a furry party and sexual abusing him. This had been going on for 7 years. Do the math. Disgusting abhorrent behavior. Sad but true, so where would your
professor categorize the furry.
Furries aside, your story was awesome. You gave the class and professor food for thought.
Oh, Jan — I’m not completely sure, but I think you may have just taken furries into the plushie realm (sex/sexual attraction with stuffed animals, I think) — and that’s why I love you! I think I might have seen the same Castle episode, btw — Steampunk, furries — Castle’s got it all! Also, that’s awful about the pedophilia. 🙁 Anyway, while I think that many/most don’t put on an animal suit because they feel “this is who they really are” and that they are just “enthusiasts,” I know that some do feel this is an expression of their identity. Anyway, there’s an article that’s very short and to the point about furries — if you’re interested — written by a woman who attended a furry convention while keeping her can of mace close at hand — just in case. You can find it at http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/furry-convention. I promise, it’s rated PG.
Uhm, Jan — I just noticed something when I tried to pull the article up from the address I listed. The good news is that the article does pull up with just a couple of clicks on the address; and while the article is fairly clean, the maybe-not-so-good-news is that you might not want to look past it on this website — to use your words, other articles on this site don’t look like they may be so innocent — besides, they have nothing to do with furries — so, I just wanted to let you know that you might not want to pull this up and read it in a public setting. Oops! 😮
Because I have your back, my friend — furryless or otherwise! (See what I did there?) 🙂
I am not confusing Furries with Plushies. Google the news item for yourself. This was a Furry group that had parties all the time in PA. Yuck! And double Yuck! I am sure there are harmless Furries. However anyone that feels the need to hide inside an animal costume must have an extraordinarily complicated intellect.
Anyway dear friend, I am so glad you have my back. Xxo
Jan, your word is gold with me and I have no doubt that what you’ve reported is true! Sorry, if I didn’t come across that way! I’m with you, double yuck! BTW, can you imagine being in one of those animal suits outside in Texas — in August?!!!
At the moment, I’m in the middle of writing research papers. Just finished CBT-G for ASD and now I’m all about hoarding! Down to the wire, as usual. 🙁
BTW, you seem to know your furries from your plushies! So impressed!