Monday, August 21, 2023

Commentary: Is Furry Discrimination Widespread? Probably Not

 By Bixyl Shuftan

You're enjoying a place in Second Life. Maybe it's a club you heard about. Maybe you're exploring around, and going through someone's land. You're minding your own business and behaving yourself when you're stopped by someone in charge and told you have to change your avatar or leave, the one that you see as the real you in Second Life and into one that you see as unlike at all what you consider yourself to be here. Naturally, you don't like the idea, and you either ignore the person, or tell him or her that you don't understand what the fuss is all about. The next thing you know, there's a flash, and then you realize you've been booted from the place. Or maybe the person was a lot nastier, calling your appearance sick and perverted, and demanding you either change to what they consider acceptable or else, or just simply kick you out.

Naturally, you'd be a little resentful, especially if it was the later. And if you hear about this happening to friends a lot, it may make you a little more cautious about going around new places inworld.

Unfortunately, this is how some furry residents feel about Second Life. I've heard of tales of this kind of harassment from some, and some even if they haven't gone through it themselves, the stories about it happening to others make them hesitant about visiting unfamiliar places inworld. The problem was recently brought to light in an article written by Samuel Roberts for the SL Enquirer.

As a Second Life fur, I'm happy to hear those in human avatars are addressing that the problem exists. But just how bad is it really?

I first wrote about the issue in March 2009 following an incident some furry friends were barred from a beach. After more than two years in Second Life, I'd only personally been asked to leave just because of the furry avatar once, and a week later had bee invited to a fancy event that only asked that I wear a suit. The article drew a number of responses, most siding those who wanted freedom from harassment. After that, I'd only been clearly told twice to leave because of having a furry avatar, and one of them was likely the place in the first article. There was one place in which a bot whispered to me that nonhuman avatars weren't welcome, but no further action was taken. There was one political place who threw out an alt of mine for being furry, but not me when I showed up later, or the one other furry that was there. One place I was invited to a few years ago, I tipped the DJ and hostess after some good music was played out of courtesy. The hostess messaged me that they usually didn't allow furry avatars, but they couldn't in good conscious boot someone who tipped the staff. Also a few years ago, JB Raccoon would ask me to write about one incident in which he was booted from a club after being there for an hour.

Grease Coakes would also write about two incidents he was involved in, here and here, which happened a few years apart. His earlier article got a few noteworthy comments. One commentator remarked he found it hard to sympathize as the club in his real-life town wouldn't allow you in unless your shoes looked expensive. Another commented that while she'd been harrased, the hostess seemed to be reacting less out of furry hate but instead thinking all furry avs were script-heavy. Someone else brought up another issue: feral avatars. One commentator had visited a club in a feral horse avatar that claimed to welcome everyone, but were booted, the person saying they kept bumping into people and the commentator was saying she'd been trying to avoid that.

And it's not all humans against furs, but occasionally the other way around. In my early days in Second Life, one friend in a human avatar once came to me in tears, saying she'd been thrown out of a furry area because of her avatar "I had no idea furries could be so cruel!" She would never visit a furry area again. And then there was an incident I personally witnessed about a decade ago. At one furry club, a human DJing was performing and the party went smoothly with people having fun until all of the sudden one of the foxes went ballistic, ranting and raving and calling the DJ a "hairless ape." The vixen owner, who had personally hired the DJ, saw this, and in a fit of rage booted out the offender, then offered the DJ her apologies. But the damage was done, her leaving soon after and saying she'd never play at another furry club. And discrimination can backfire in unexpected ways. I heard about one SL church in which furries were welcomed with open arms for some years, then when it's first pastor retired the new one insisted parishioners "keep it real" and told the furries if they wanted to keep coming, they had to change to human avatars. Well, as a result, not only did the furs leave, but so did many of the humans who didn't like their furry friends given the cold shoulder. The church folded soon after. The club that JB had gotten the boot from would also fold soon after.

There were two other details that come to mind. One was luck. Some people just seem to avoid trouble while others seem to run into problem after problem. So sadly with the law of averages, some furries would see more problems than others. And then there's that bad situations weigh more heavily on most peoples' minds than good ones. In grade school, I read a poem by a black man who had gone to an amusement park as a child, which had plenty of roller coasters, food stands, and games. But years later, his only vivid memory of the event was being called the N-word.

It should be noted most of the incidents I've heard of happened years ago. But how are things today? Talking to one furry neighbor, it was her opinion while the problem still existed, it wasn't as bad as it used to be. Much of the reason she felt was that attitudes among many of those who prefer human avatars were changing, such as being willing to go furry on occasion themselves. She'd seen a number of furs in recent years of who if you looked at their profile had a human picture.

Just after I started writing this, someone messaged me and complained about a supposed incident, not human against furry, but furry against furry. She claimed because she was a tiny mouse avatar, at a small furry club she was pressured to engage in strange roleplay, and thrown out when she refused (in a included notecard with a conversation with one of the staff, the person denied any wrongdoing).

So in conclusion, yes, discrimination against furries is a problem. But it most likely isn't as bad as some make it out to be, and probably isn't as bad as it was in the past. And it isn't just furs getting the boot, but humans and others can and do experience it as well. But it is appreciated that people like Samuel are trying to do something about it.

In the meantime, most places don't care what you look like as long as you behave. And in the case of music venues, just about all appreciate someone who tips. So don't let the stories about a few clowns ruin your plans to explore all of what Second Life has to offer.

Bixyl Shuftan


  1. Also, 'Bixyl Shuftan' is well-known as a SL journalist. People will hesitate against displaying prejudice towards this avatar. You need to run around in an unknown furry avatar if you want genuine reactions.

  2. Well, I was seen lately (lets say "some years" no hate or taken actions, maybe some side-problems.

    On events, while shopping ... while being around with the "Drivers" or also while other things, I hear never something about (or against) furries.
    The "Drivers" are anyway open for all and how - even robots, ponies (quadwalker, MLP ... not the human, even them are also welcome) and "ferals" or animal-avatars (not furry, not hybrid or "morph" ... bird, fox, ferret, gryphon, ...).

    I also can understand, some areas ... mmm ... seen themself as "designed for human (only)" ... same as some spots are "average furs", but average these both are not essential areas, so it not matters, if you "cannot go there".
    And I am also ok with, if such place makes their rules ... if I can choose from a dozen other, equal options. If it would be a shop, I would see it critical.

    I remember two directly things:
    One was some overactive security-system, which was attacking me about the high ARC, my avi was have. It was then somewhen end in an eject ... which was bring me to complain pretty blunt to the shop-owner about the system of the mall ... and it seems, the mall was have some weeks later a spot open, as the shop moved to an other spot.
    The owner of the security-system (mall-manager) was also stated his excuses ("we was have event, people came with ridden horse, high lag"), which I value as "LAME!".

    An other issue was on a Grid-Drive, where one of the areas which wanted to host the drive (it's kind advertising for them and traffic) was have their problems with "none human avatars" ... there it was a kind of "swallow it or die"-situation, as, where them could decide to lock their rules in the closet ... or the drive would not have lead to their land.
    Some single-drivers was nagged a bit at first, as some of the lower-ranked admins seems to be not informed ... and we should activate the "Drivers"-tags ... but it was gone smooth. (Well, beside the fact, that way much more simple build town was so crappy laggy at all ... there is Hiraya-town "total free of lag".)

    My club get sometimes griefed or trolled a bit ... but it become boring for Trolls, if the guests are better in trolling than them ... or just ignore them.
    The club is open for all, even there are more furries than human-like avatars are around ...
    ... and interesting is, there are some human-only avatars, which search especial the connection to furry-avatars.