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Author Topic: Women at Furry Conventions  (Read 27234 times)

Cheetah

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Women at Furry Conventions
« on: 08.11.2013, 12:51:51 »

Ha!

I knew this headline would get your attention :) I've been pondering if this is the right forum for this topic. This is not an official "Eurofurence" related posting, but more of a personal philosophical question that has been bothering me for a while, and since it IS kinda con-related (although not limited to EF), I've finally decided to start a discussion here.

I know that gender can sometimes be a vague thing, but let's put that aside for the moment. We all know that furry cons have a very uneven male-to-female ratio. At Eurofurence our attendence is roughly 89% male and 11% female. Without going into speculations why that may be the case, it lot of potential to create tension, as according to recent polls, the majority of the furry fandom is in fact not as gay as prejudice wants to make us believe. Or to put it bluntly: There's an awful lot of single men, and as such, how do you even get started looking for a girlfriend, date, or even just a flirt?

I recently came across an "advice" article by JM Horse (which really is more of an opinion piece), that brought the topic back to my mind, and while I strongly disagree with the "advice" given in this article, I think it is about time we start talking about these things. If you have the time ... please give this a read:

* [adjective][species] : How to pick up (furry) women

Now, I'll give you my personal opinion on this article. I think the author brings up some interesting facts, but I totally do not agree with his conclusions:

Quote
It's true that women are staying away from public furry gatherings, and they're staying away because they are being harassed by men who are hoping to pick them up, talk to them, or just make friends. Data collected online (ref Furrypoll) and data collected at large conventions (ref IARP) show this trend: online we're (around) 80% male; at conventions we're (around) 90% male.

That's actually misleading ... the numbers show that women are less likely to attend conventions, but none of the cited studies tell us anything about the actual reason - instead the (persumably male) author draws his own conclusions from anecdotal evidence. On the basis of this assumption, he gives us the following advice how single males are supposed to approach women at furry conventions:

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 *  Furry gatherings are a Safe Space. Don't approach any woman who is not already a good friend.

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 *  If you are interested in someone, ask online or over text (not in person) whether she is interested. Make it brief and respectful. If she isn't interested, drop it. Forever. Consider this person for evermore to be a friend of yours.

Wow, that's pretty extreme. But later on, in the comments section he goes even further:

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Essentially, if you are approaching someone female because of her gender, I think that you're contributing to a significant problem in our community.

And his final advice for us singles out there:

Quote
Being single can be lonely. It can be easy to think of a relationship as something you need. This is compelling but flawed.

So, in short: Don't bother. You're outnumbered, and women don't want to be talked to, and being lonely is great! Well, maybe I'm exaggerating, but what strikes me is that his whole observation is terribly one-sided ... and that is, a 100% male centric view. The concept that men talk to women to "pick them up". Very bold claims about what women think, but it doesn't seem like women had any actual contribution to this article.

So ... I would like to ask ALL THE WOMEN in this forum (please, dear flying spaghetti monster, let there be any reading this, or this will end up very embarassing for me) to give us your own view on the situation. What advice would you give men trying to approach women at furry conventions? Before going to your first furry con, where you concerned about unwanted attention? Has this actually held you back? How were your actual experiences at furry conventions? Did you get a lot of creeps following you - more than your male friends? Any stories to tell? Would you agree with what JM wrote in his blog article? Or do you disagree?

I'm dying to hear your answer.
« Last Edit: 08.11.2013, 13:17:56 by Cheetah »
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Cheetah

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #1 on: 08.11.2013, 13:13:12 »

My reply to this article can be summed up as:
"what."

I have been harassed at conventions -- furry, sci-fi and anime alike in fact. I don't think this is unique to furries (or men). For the sake of not writing an essay though I'll stick to furry cons. Yes, I've had my share of creeps at EF. To be very honest, I expected this to be less of an issue at furry cons (male gay majority) vs sci-fi cons (male straight majority). You can call me naive, I guess I was :-). I've had the usual inappropriate touching, inappropriate offers, stuff like that. It's always been handled wonderfully by Security might I add, I've never felt unsafe. Ever.

For every creepalicious male I met though, I've met a LOT of really nice guys. It's ridiculous to say guys should not approach a girl because omg she may have had some bad experiences at cons. Yeah, those bad experiences happen. Such is life. A furry convention is not set up to be my 'safe space', it absolutely should not be. I don't mean these incidents are OK or should happen. They're not. But to expect every man to therefore treat me and my fellow ladies like queens? Wow. No.

I much prefer to be amidst men and I enjoy their friendship. I'd hate to think I may not have met close friends because they took this article seriously and didn't want to approach me. (OK, I suffer from resting b*tch face meaning I look extremely unapproachable when I'm lost in thought ;)) I've gotten a few very close friendships with men from this fandom, they talked to me because we share an interest and there's no underlying "plot" of picking me up. The article seems to suggest all men at furry cons to talk to women -just- to pick them up.

Advice to give? This actually goes for anyone, male, female, inbetween, whathaveyou... Be polite. I know furries tend to be quite big on hugs, but I don't like to have contact like that with strangers. I can do a handshake. Say your name. Talk. I've met a lot of people that sort of...quietly hung in a corner without ever speaking to me and that is disturbing. I know not all of us are social butterflies but a "hi" goes a long way. I see a lot of quiet staring and lurking about and that creeps me out a lot. With an article like this though, I can see how males get discouraged.

Also, for goodness sake, don't go "hi I'm LittleLion69 I'm gay I like thisthat fetish". I don't care. I don't need to know. I don't want to know.
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KyuubiSaoirse

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #2 on: 08.11.2013, 13:56:08 »

I disagree so very much with that article as well.

Well, EuroFurence20 will be my first FURRY con ever, but I'm really looking forward to it and not dreading any unwanted attention - I've been a cosplayer for 4 years and LARPer for 1½ years now, and so, I'm already used to all the attention and luckily, I've only met one or two guys who bordered on the creepy side. Everybody else have been very nice and open. I've been a furry for a little over half a year now, and still I've only gotten the positive kind of attention from other furries. Then again, of Danish furries I know a little better, it's about a 50/50 ratio of males and females.

But my advice to the guys would be; just be yourself. Be open, friendly, kind, do exactly what you would do to approach a woman outside of the convention area. Don't be pushy, let her take the steps along with you, and you'll be just fine!
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Sundance

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #3 on: 08.11.2013, 14:19:01 »

My wife stopped attending Eurofurence a few years ago, though she'd been a regular attendee, and introduced me to some of the finest people I got to meet in the fandom.

One of her listed reasons was her getting hit on again and again (and, I am led to understand, quite a little bit awkwardly).

In general, I think the advice highlighted by Cheetah in the top post would contribute toward making her feel comfortable returning eventually.

Do you want me to poke her about this matter? I can't promise she'll reply herself (females taking contrary positions in largely male-dominated online groups can get nasty very, very fast, though of course I hope we're all better than this here) but I'll relay her position as needed.


Edit: In fact, it occurs to me it we may in general obtain more useful answers from women who stopped coming to EF. Is Taran still around this forum?

Edit edit: Erm, not to say the above contributions aren't useful. :/ I meant, if the question is, "Why are women in the fandom less likely than men to come to EF?" then the women not coming are likely the best people to ask.
« Last Edit: 08.11.2013, 14:34:47 by Sundance »
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yagfox

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #4 on: 08.11.2013, 14:26:11 »

I'm afraid I would have to agree with a lot of what JMhorse says. I suspect it's written from a slightly embittered point of view, but you can only write honestly from your own experience, and I suspect what he writes reflects what he has seen, which also matches what I have seen.

I would not approach any woman at a furry convention that I did not know. I have seen way too much talk of "creepy male furs" to risk being branded as such simply for existing.

I fully appreciate that people will disagree, and trust that disagreement is based on their own experiences. But I've seen what I've seen.

So how do you get a girl in the furry fandom? Be as pretty as you can and they'll come to you!* ;)


*Not based on actual experience! ;)
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Sithy

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #5 on: 08.11.2013, 15:41:32 »

Oh yes, I want to emphasise I totally understand why women stop going to conventions. I was this close to just giving up and hiding under the duvet at this year's EF x) To later get reactions along the lines of "it wasn't that bad" "women overreact" was basically icing on the cake. This happens a lot, which makes women afraid to speak up about the matter. (Again, I -have- met a lot of super nice guy friends, I -know- this is a minority and EF Security thankfully never plays the "women overreact" game.)

I'd just honestly hate it if all males would stop talking to me and not approach me at all though :( I can see why, I just feel it's a shame.
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Dhary Montecore

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #6 on: 08.11.2013, 20:13:44 »

I can't agree with this article at all I'm afraid. I had two relationships with females and both started at Eurofurence and both women got interested because I just talked to them as a friend without any hidden intends. So I'd say you SHOULD approach female attendees, but maybe guys should remember to be gentleman about it. Just be respectful, polite and above all don't be creepy. That's all I'd suggest to be honest.

Most attendees aren't creepy or weird at conventions, but some are. And the fandom is quit easy with talk about sexual stuff. That de-sensitizes even those, that are perfectly fine straight or bi males.

So yeah, be yourself, talk to females but excercise manners and you should be fine in my opinion as a male. :3

And I can assure every guest, especially female attendees, that Eurofurence security takes every complaint seriously. Reports can be made in private, in one-on-one talk and of course we have female security officers to take your report, if that's your wish. Harassment will never be tolerated at Eurofurence and we will push for the maximum penality in any case of sexual harassment. That's a promise.
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Jallora

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #7 on: 08.11.2013, 22:31:22 »

Hi, I dusted this account (I didn't even remembered I had one) to answer the topic.

I am Balinares' wife, and went to EF 11th to 13th if my memory's good. Then I had kids.

Anyway, first thing I should say is that if I didn't already knew a bunch of male furry friends around whom I was comfortable (especially as one of them was my "special someone") I would never have come. Because I was shy (still am, but slightly less, I guess), and there was no way I'd go all alone in a convention filled with guys.

It's true I've had my share of unsollicited attention, though I never feared for myself or felt insecure.
If you want my opinion on the subject, I'd say that the problem at EF isn't the number of males per se, it's the number of socially awkward males. The article quoted above just seems to me as written by someone who has no idea how to basically interact with people (especially female people) and tries to write a guideline.

I can agree with the "don't come expecting to find love" thing, but do speak to females if you want to ! Just keep in mind some basic stuff : not everyone is interested in what you have to say, listen to what is said to you and of course no contact without asking first (as should be the case with males too in my opinion)

Now if the question is "how to convince more girls to come to EF ?" well, I don't really know. I remember going to a "female only" event once (EF 11th maybe ?) and was quite struck because they all seemed to already know each other and I felt really out of place. It's sad, though, because I rather liked the idea.



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FreesTyler

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #8 on: 08.11.2013, 23:02:03 »

I've been going to EF now since EF17, and I haven't had any bad experiences. Though, I guess I'm not the most feminine out there, and when fursuiting most people think I'm a guy, so I guess that..helps?
But this article, telling you to basically not talk to us is kind of weird. How will you ever get to know anyone if you follow guidelines telling you "not introduce yourself" or to approach someone unless you are friends? I would say the best way would just be to actually introduce yourself with your name (nickname), cause... talking to some person you have no idea what to call is kind of weird, isn't it? Then you would just be "that guy that came over, we had a nice conversation, but I have no idea who he was".
The one this I agree on is that you shouldn't talk to someone with the intention of maybe have any kind of romantic connection, cause that's where it get's awkward. But talking to someone because you want to say hi, is not dangerous at all.

Just don't get clingy, act normal, be happy, a convention is a social place after all!
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Jorinda

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #9 on: 09.11.2013, 16:43:26 »

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What advice would you give men trying to approach women at furry conventions?
Same as everywhere else - try to act normal. Do not start a conversation with the goal of getting a date - that often ends up weird or creepy.

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Before going to your first furry con, where you concerned about unwanted attention?
Actually, I went to my first con when I was very new to the fandom and had not heard about such things much. So I was not worried.

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Has this actually held you back? How were your actual experiences at furry conventions?
Sometimes I got hit on. But more guys were of the "nerd who doesn't know what to say" type, not creepy. A friendly, harmless kind of weirdo ;). And in case I had to tell someone to leave me alone because i didn't want to talk to them, they always stopped. I never got bothered any further after asking them to stop.

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Did you get a lot of creeps following you - more than your male friends?
I guess it is about the same amount as for the guys, but that is a feeling, not a statistic.

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Any stories to tell?
Funniest story so far: My boyfriend was jealous of me going to a con with so many guys. Then he saw that noone was flirting with me, but someone slapped his butt while dancing (and I was the only girl around, and it was not me slapping him). That sounds kinda creepy, but it was more hilarious.


Quote
Would you agree with what JM wrote in his blog article? Or do you disagree?
I disagree. Before reading this, I had never heard of any girl saying "I don't go to cons because I got hit on". I don't think it is that much of a problem. But I have to admit that I'm rather goood at ignoring people I don't like, others might feel different about that.
Even if a creepy person bothers you, there are always plenty of friends around at the con who will help you get rid of him.
« Last Edit: 09.11.2013, 16:45:17 by Jorinda »
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Suicune

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #10 on: 09.11.2013, 22:11:29 »

What advice would you give men trying to approach women at furry conventions?
http://adjectivespecies.com/2013/10/21/how-to-pick-up-furry-women/#comment-50290
Like that person wrote. If she likes you, her behaviour will tell you within the first minutes. Even in what way.

Before going to your first furry con, where you concerned about unwanted attention? Has this actually held you back?
I have been on so many Anime Cons before and never had a problem with other people, so no.

How were your actual experiences at furry conventions?
I have been on 2 EFs so far and only met nice people. Well, I was surprised that most of them are guys, didn't expact that, but didn't have a big problem with that.
But it would be nice to have more female furs around. When I hang around in a larger group I prefer not being the only girl because it makes me feel more comfortable.
And I found out that the guys there are more open minded, took me some time to get used to it. Sometimes it gives misunderstood signals.

Did you get a lot of creeps following you - more than your male friends?
No.

Any stories to tell?
On the first EF I was invited to a little roomparty. The person really tried to persuade me. I was really unsure if I should go because there others were all guys I didn't know. Met only one of them once that day. I did go anyway and we had a little conversation before we went back to the main area.

Would you agree with what JM wrote in his blog article? Or do you disagree?
I don't agree or disagree. Some things are true.


I can't understand girls who don't go to furcons anymore just because they get hit on. Then they shoulnd't visit any event.. For me conventions are a place to have fun and meet friends.

JM

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #11 on: 10.11.2013, 13:00:07 »

Hi Cheetah, hi everyone. I'm JM, the author of the article. Thanks for sharing and thanks for provoking this really interesting discussion.

I wanted to chime in with a bit of extra information. For starters, the article is based on a lot of conversations, formal and informal, in-person and online, with furry women.

I first wrote an article for Adjective Species looking at the how the gender disparity in furry makes things difficult for heterosexual mean, a couple of years ago (http://adjectivespecies.com/2012/05/14/its-raining-men/). That provoked a fair bit of comment, and it became clear to me that furry lacks female voices that describe the scale of the problem. I received comments like:

"The harassment I receive both from straight men AND gay men is overwhelming, and I can see why women attracted to men would be looking outside the fandom for a mate."

"I have encountered a lot of guys who either didn’t know or didn’t care that I’m in a monogamous relationship, and proceeded to attempt sexual roleplay with me."

"Heterosexual males in the fandom often make things worse on themselves. I’ve had men send me naked pictures of themselves, threaten me for my phone number, and sometimes harrass me only to tell me that I am a heartless bitch because they can’t help harrassing women because they have autism."

Since then I've been asking around in the hope of finding a woman who would be interested in writing for AS on this topic. I didn't have any luck, and so I decided that a guy (i.e. me) writing an article is better than no article at all. (The offer is still open for women, or anyone, to contribute an article to the discussion.)

As Sundance pointed out, you need to talk to the women that are not going to conventions. The data suggests that something like half of furry women choose to stay away. To be honest, I suspect that the numbers are worse if you consider that so many women are artists who attend conventions for the dealer's den. I'd be curious to see what your 89/11% split looks like if you exclude those people who are dealing art at EF.

And finally: being single can suck, and there is nothing wrong with a guy pursuing furry women. Do it the right way: make friends online and offline and wait to be introduced to friends-of-friends. Don't make uninvited approaches to women at conventions.

My article generated a lot of interesting comment and criticism, which is always great. I'm planning on writing a followup. If anyone has stories to share, or wants to agree or disagree, please feel free to comment here or drop me an email at jm@furrynet.com.
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EchoesAbove

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #12 on: 25.11.2013, 18:57:07 »

TL;DR
Cons have creepers, RL does too.


I haven't been active in the furry community for long, and this years EF was my first one.

What I can say is that no matter if small meet or big con, there'll ALWAYS be those guys who hit on you, even if you're hugging and kissing your significant other. He couldn't come with me to EF due to work, so I basically depended on friends dropping the "How is your boyfriend doing?" question once in a while when someone started making advances. Most of the times it worked.

I've noticed that guys are... lets say cockier, when a female is in her suit. I went to the dances, and when I was out of suit, friends danced with me, I had a good time. When in suit however, I had a guy directly going for me and trying to dance with me in specific poses. Needless to say I wasn't too amused, but it happens.

I knew such things were going to happen and I was prepared for them so I was prepared for those situations. Do it like the penguins from madagascar. Smile, wave, and then leave the scene and get back to somewhere where you are more in control, eg your friends, the suiterlounge, etc.


But apart from the creepier people, I also met a lot of awesome people, even if I mostly never even learned their name. I remember scenes in the Sauna where we were cracking jokes about the male/female ratio and how females don't have to be afraid because all guys are gay anyways. (we were 18 people and I was the only female, the rest was strictly gay)


The "creepy" guys can be found anywhere, not just as cons, so I think women don't have to be 'afraid' to go there. IF you get stalked by a guy, find another woman, talk to her, and ask her for help. Alternatively, you have friends.
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Jake R

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #13 on: 28.11.2013, 15:46:41 »

IF you get stalked by a guy, find another woman, talk to her, and ask her for help. Alternatively, you have friends.

If someone is stalking you at a convention, I'd also suggest you write down the name (and/or as clear of a description as you can manage) and perhaps when, where, and what he was doing. Then (if you think the issue is serious enough) find a security person and discuss the issue with them. Clear and concrete information can be very helpful for security in preventing them from doing it again.

My advice for writing it down is mostly because convention chaos and stalker-induced stress could mess with your memory while talking to security. With so many colorspecies walking around, writing down the name might prevent a mixup and the wrong person being accused. You know, "We warned PurpleBadger to not bother you again." -"PurpleBadger? Oh, I believe I meant PinkBeaver!". =P

That said - I'm not a security person, perhaps they don't even see the use of this. It's just what I'd do. Writing down several incidents and presenting them as a list sure helped me a lot when a teacher was picking on me at school, and I imagine it would work for creepy stalkers as well. =D


As for "picking up furry women", I think the core issue here is that you shouldn't approach women with that in mind in the first place. Approach them as the interesting human beings (... or whatever species suit they might be currently wearing) they are, not as potential partners. Don't be desperate, they'll sense it from a mile away, and it sure won't make them like you more. Show them you're interested in more about them than just their gender. If you aren't, then you're probably talking to the wrong person anyway. And for the love of all that is holy, learn to pick up signs of when to get the hell out of there, and act on them.
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Zefiro

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Re: Women at Furry Conventions
« Reply #14 on: 28.11.2013, 17:14:41 »

And for the love of all that is holy, learn to pick up signs of when to get the hell out of there, and act on them.
That's very easy to say. I'm not convinced it's that easy to act on, though. I've seen countless times that people speak about non-present other people "They don't get it, do they? They should really learn to XXX", but very rarely that they are contacted directly. I know I'm not - so either I'm a brilliant human being without flaws (yeah, sure :), or it's just part of our social culture to NOT speak to persons and just hope they "would get it" by repeating whatever (subtle) signs are agreed on by the majority, but actually never teached. Everyone expects them to "get it", to "learn it", but for those who genuinely are not aware of this coded language there is little help to learn it. Those who know, of course, will not see the issue, probably also disregard it altogether (I'm used to ad hominem attacks when I bring this topic up). So the actual descriptions of our female furries here what they experienced and considered creepy is quite helpful.

*purrrr*
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