Be my Teddy Bear: Furry Sex and whatever that means...
What’s a “furry?”
Believe it or not, it all depends on whom you ask. Personally, I’d never come across the term in any actual real-world setting. “Hey, did you know Clarissa is a furry?” No, sheltered as I am, the full extent of my exposure to the term has come compliments of the entertainment media – shows like Entourage (WARNING: LANGUAGE), The Drew Carey Show, CSI, 30 Rock and such august dead-tree outlets as Vanity Fair plus the always tasteful Dan Savage. That their interest in “the furries” hinged on a shocking definition should come as no surprise.
A furry – according to those listed above – is someone in possession of a sexual fetish that involves having (or even requiring) carnal relations with individuals dressed up like furry animals. Now, obviously such Hollywood folks (along with the lonely loser-types who write columns, ahem) work overtime to keep their eyes open for strange and twisted practices so as to profit from the increased attention and hits (ahem, AHEM!) their cutting edge product would hopefully receive. Knowing this, I am still not sure I’m ready to believe that our humble planet actually includes a sub-set of folks specifically dedicated to copulation with human-stuffed animals. To be fair though, if Bill Maher is still able to find enough daily reasons not to off himself anything is possible.
Reading up on “the furries” I discovered that their “culture” is often referred to as “Furry fandom.” As a group, they are said to be folks that “enjoy fictional anthropomorphic animal characters that exhibit human characteristics and personalities.” Basically furries really dig the fox from that Disney Robin Hood (...and to be fair, he was a particularly dashing young fox now wasn’t he?) Anyway, the fandom part refers to the community of people they’ve become, swapping digital treats amongst themselves on the net and gathering at semi-regular conventions to share their love of fuzzies while buying and selling stuff. These “furries” claim that sex is not a part of what they’re about even though shrinking violets like Dan Savage (and Drew!) say otherwise. Who to believe? Seeing as Wikipedia appears to be pretty much the only place a laconic (read: lazy) writer can find any info on this topic it would seem we’re going to have to flip between these two definitions for now.
So mark me down as gobsmacked when I came across a recent ad for Unilever's Cornetto Enigma ice cream. The spot features a handsome young man being asked by his ravishing lady love when he might finally be willing to show his “soft side.” Oh, he’s ready now and hot guy morphs into what is presented as the ultimate boyfriend of any girl’s dream - a great, big, furry (and undeniably sexual) six-foot teddy bear. Being newly attuned to “furry culture” my antenna went haywire. Are “furries” finally emerging from their closet of self-imposed shame? Is the mainstream about to be overrun by newly empowered (and dangerously amorous) Teddy Ruxpin clones? What’s going on? The spot is so bizarrely erotic in tone that it pushes a hell of a lot of weird buttons. To say it made me feel “funny” is an understatement – and “funny” is way closer to “furry” than I ever thought I’d be.
So what is it? Are furries just the latest batch of fetish-sex cultists coming into their own or are they simply a group of misunderstood nerds who like drawing pictures of talking and walking animals? I can’t know for sure but whenever I put any faith in the truth stylings of modern-day Hollywood I usually end up face down in a curdled version of I-thought-it-was-truth barf.
Over the years a few serious reporters apparently found themselves sharing hotels with furries on convention. They reported that instead of encountering strange sex rituals amongst fur-clad mascot stalkers they actually discovered a rather large group of cartoonist-types obsessed with drawing animals that looked like people. It could be a con of course – the furries true power and global reach is unknown to be sure – but the truth is rarely as exotic as pictured.
When it’s all said and done I may not know for sure whether there is a growing obsession with freaky teddy bear sex or not. I will absolutely never know if Unilever decided to take a stab at profiting from it if there is. But what I do know is that when it comes to that double-edged sword known as human sexual relations it always seems that the farther one veers from the making of babies the greater the chance for things to start getting really weird. Really, really weird.