10.2 Experienced Stigma

Numerous negative stereotypes exist about furries, often perpetuated by negative or inaccurate media portrayals of furries as sexual deviants, socially awkward, or people with an unusual (e.g., fursuits) or, in some places illegal (e.g., bestiality) fetish. As a result of the prevalence of these negative portrayals, we hypothesized that furries would perceive the outside world as particularly unaccepting and hostile toward furries.

In one study, furries indicated that they felt non-furries were prejudiced against furries and that they expected to be treated worse when people learned that they were a furry; these beliefs were even stronger in people who more strongly identified with the furry fandom.1 Furries felt that more of this stigma was coming from society in general than from members of similar fandoms (e.g., anime fans), who they may have felt would be more sympathetic due to their sharing comparable interests.

In another study,2 furries were found to expect greater backlash and disapproval from others if it were discovered that they were a furry. These results, when combined with other findings that furries are also the least likely to self-disclose their identity to others,3 suggest that furries’ decision to not self-disclose is likely influenced by the fact that they expect negative repercussions if they did. And there may be some truth to this: other studies have suggested that among the different fan groups studied, furries and bronies were consistently the most negatively rated, suggesting that others, even those in comparable fan groups (e.g., anime fans) hold a generally unfavorable impression of furries. Further research in to the nature of this stigmatization, its effects, and its origins, are planned as topics for future studies.

As a way of studying the extent to which prejudice exists against furries, future studies are planned in which furries and non-furries are asked to indicate the extent to which they would want a furry person to be in a number of important positions. While data is not yet available for non-furry samples, in a recent study furries indicated that furries were surprisingly lukewarm about the idea of furries having power or being professionals (e.g., president, physician) but are much more enthusiastic about having a furry as a friend, dating a furry, or having a furry as a neighbor. Future studies will show how these results compare to the general population’s belief about the desirability of furries in these positions.

References

  1. Furry Fiesta 2012 and International Online Survey III
  2. IARP 2014 3-fandom study
  3. See 10.1 Disclosure

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