Klismaphilia (sometimes spelled Klysmaphilia) describes those who are sexually aroused by the introduction of liquids into the rectum and colon via the anus. It is a paraphilia that often involves the use of enemas. Dr. Joanne Denko , an early investigator of the fetish, coined the term klismaphilia in 1973 to describe the activities of some of her patients.
Klismaphiliacs can gain satisfaction through enema fantasies, by actually receiving one, or through the process of eliminating steps to receiving one.
Klismaphilia is practiced by both men and women. However, as with most paraphilias, men are more likely to be klismaphiliacs. They may also gain pleasure from a large, water distended belly or the feeling of internal pressure.
Often, klismaphiliacs report discovering these desires after a chance administration of an enema sometime in their childhood, but others report discovering these feelings later on.
Klismaphilia is practiced both heterosexually and homosexually. The paraphilia may be used as a substitute or as an auxiliary by its practitioners for genital sexual activity.
Usually, klismaphiliacs engage in their deviant behaviour secretly. Klismaphiliacs may also try to get others to administer enemas under the pretense of being constipated. If this is the case they will probably try to conceal the pleasure they receive from these administrations.
Klismaphilics are rarely ‘treated’ for their condition, since most have no desire to be “cured”. Health treatment for klismaphilia is typically only focused on ensuring the techniques employed and chemicals used are not harmful to the practitioner. In certain cases cramps produced by the chemicals used in enemas have led to hospitalisations, in some instances the effects can even be life-threatening.
Mummification is a BDSM sexual bondage practice that involves restraining a living person’s body in a non-damaging way.
BDSM bondage mummification is achieved by wrapping a submissive head to toe, or neck to toe, in materials like saran wrap/clingfilm, cloth, bandages, rubber strips, plaster bandages, duct tape, bodybags, or straitjackets.
The end result is a person completely immobilized and looking like an Egyptian mummy.
They may then either be left bound in a state of effective sensory deprivation for a period of time, or sensually stimulated in their state of bondage, before being released from their wrappings.
Mummification is often used to enhance a feeling of total bodily helplessness, and incorporated with sensation play.
The mummification fetish is one type of pseudonecrophilia – but there are many others!
Salirophilia is a sexual fetish or paraphilia in which erotic pleasure is gained from soiling or disheveling the object of one’s desire, usually an attractive man or woman. It may involve tearing or damaging their clothing, covering them in mud or filth, or messing up their hair or makeup. The fetish does not involve harming or injuring the subject, it simply consists of ruining their appearance.
Salirophilia is related to wet and messy fetishism, bukkake, omorashi, mysophilia, urolagnia and coprophilia, but extends to other areas such a forcing the partner to wear torn or poorly fitting clothing and other actions that make them appear unattractive.
The fetish sometimes manifests itself in the defacing of statues or pictures of attractive people, especially celebrities or fictional characters. It is common to refer to the practice involving ejaculating on a photo as “facepainting”. The fetishist finds this sexually exciting, rather than mere vandalism. They sometimes form collections of defaced art for future enjoyment. A video of the fetishist ejaculating on a picture of someone or a photo depicting the result is known colloquially as a “tribute”.
The term comes from the French for soiling, salir. In cases where the fetish is obsessive it is called saliromania. It is frequently confused with salophilia, an attraction to salt or salty things (especially body sweat) that derives from the Latin for salt, sal.
Mysophilia refers explicitly to soiled or dirty material or people. Mysophiliacs may find dirt, soiled underwear, faeces, or vomit to be sexually arousing.
It is possible (although not necessary) for people with mysophilia to be aroused by unclean locations, such as alleyways, dirty rooms, filthy toilets; wearing the same clothing for many days at a time; or not bathing, sometimes for a few days, or possibly even weeks.
Emetophilia is a paraphilia in which an individual is sexually aroused by puking or observing others vomit. This is commonly referred to as a vomit fetish or puke fetish. Some emetophiles put their perversion of choice into practice by actually doing the technicolour yawn, often on a sexual partner.
Vomiting as a sex act is sometimes called a Roman shower, after the commonly held but mistaken belief that regurgitating food was an integral part of Roman feasts. In this urban myth ancient Romans are alleged to have thrown up after binge eating so that they could return to their feasts to eat more!
Some emetophiles find the act of chundering arousing; for them, the sequence of “spasm, ejaculation, relief” in retching is erotically charged. Other emetophiles are aroused by seeing, hearing, and/or smelling others heaving up their guts.
Some puke fetish enthusiasts desire a partner who will barf on them, while others wish to induce hurling in a partner, or even to force them to throw up. Wanting to be vomited on may be related to a desire to be dominated, while wanting to make someone else puke may stem from a desire to dominate the partner and it can be seen as a form of erotic humiliation. Emetophiles may have any combination of these desires at any time.
Russian girl fetish (literally love of Russian women and/or the desire for a Russian wife) is used to denote lust and admiration for Russian females – who are often seen as potential sexual partners and brides in the overdeveloped world, where some socially inept men believe they can buy love in the form of ‘mail order brides’. The Russian girl fetish is rooted in stereotypes produced by mass culture, and – for example – the American author Robert Alexander writes: “I love Russians for their dramatic, emotional nature. They’re not afraid to love, not afraid to get hurt, not afraid to exaggerate or act impulsively.”
Russian women are hugely popular in Serbia and Montenegro, and Serbian men have always seen Russian women as potential brides. In Serbia there is the Russian Centre of Science and Culture, Hotel Moskva and a Monument to Soviet war veterans, as well as a love of Russian women and Russian pornography. In Montenegro, which like Serbia is also an Eastern Orthodox and Slavic country, Russian women and pornography are hugely popular. There one can find the Moscow Bridge in Podgorica, and a statue of Russian singer and actor Vladimir Vysotsky next to the bridge. After dissolution of the union of Serbia and Montenegro, Russian citizens bought a lot of property in Montenegro. In 2012 it was claimed in the Russian press that Russians own at least 40% of all real-estate in Montenegro. In September 2012, the Croatian news portal Globus called Montenegro a “Russian colony”. This leads to Russian brides being prized as trophy wives in Montenegro, and Russian girls enjoying a very different status to the one they are saddled with in western Europe and north America.
The Russian girl fetish in the Ukraine grew out of the Russophilia linguistic, literary and socio-political movement in the Western Ukrainian territories of Galicia, Transcarpathia, and Bukovyna, in the 18th to the 20th centuries. Proponents of this movement believed in linguistic, cultural, social union and marriage with Russian people and later in state union with Russia. Among the reasons for the emergence of this phenomenon were the loss of Ukrainian statehood, centuries of foreign oppression, fragmented Ukrainian territories and a dispersed population, as well as the defection of national elite to neighbouring cultures.
The first instances of the Russian girl fetish and Russophilia in Transcarpathia date back to the late-18th century when several famous Russians with ties to the government and the court of the tsar settled there. Such famous scientists and social activists as I. Orlai, M. Baludiansky, P. Lodiy and others lived in Transcarpathia and maintained close ties with the country of their birth – thereby promoting interest in Russia; and especially a fascination with its women, cultural life, language and literature.
When Galicia and Bukovyna were incorporated into the Habsburg Empire in 1772, the Austrian government treated the Ukrainian population of these territories with suspicion as it was afraid they were susceptible to Russian influence due to the closeness of Ukrainian and Russian languages and cultures – and the attraction of the local male population to Russian brides. In spite of this atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion the Habsburgs were unable to halt the development of the Russian girl fetish in the Ukraine.
Oculolinctus, also known as “worming” or eyeball-licking fetish, is the paraphilic practice of licking eyeballs for erotic gratification. According to recent and erroneous media reports, the practice became popular in Japan earlier this year, where it is referred to as “Gankyū name purei”. Videos featuring this fetish have been posted on websites such as YouTube for at least seven years, and until now hadn’t attracted much attention beyond a small core audience with an interest in this particular form of fetishism.
While the practice definitely exists, its alleged popularity among Japanese teenagers is a hoax based on a titillating story that originated on a youth culture website. Under the attention grabbling headline of “The perverted play of eyeball-licking is a hit among primary schoolers” (“Shogakusei ni gankyuname hentai purei ga dairyuukou” in the original Japanese), the piece was first posted on Bucchi News on 7 June 2013. The fake story was picked up by other sites, and spread quickly in a variety of languages, and within couple of weeks it had been featured by supposedly reputable English language news media outlets including The Guardian and ABC News.
Those who have fallen for the hoax write that worming became popular among Japanese teens in 2013, and has caused a significant rise in eye infections! LOL! The Guardian reported that eyeball-licking was “the thing you graduate to when kissing gets boring”, and that it had become popular after it was featured in a music video by Born, a Japanese emo band. Other reports featured stock pictures of Japanese schoolchildren wearing eye-patches allegedly because they’d caught conjunctivitis after allowing themselves to be wormed.
The worming sensation has been described as akin to toe-sucking (but in my opinion it is not quite as much fun as this other fetish). The high number of nerve-endings in the cornea make eyeballs extremely sensitive. However, there are health risks associated with the practice because the tongue is coated with a film of micro-organisms, which can potentially cause eye infections, including conjunctivitis and chlamydia. There are also slight risks of corneal abrasion and ulcers.
Closing the eyelids when having the eyeball licked reduces the health risks associated with worming but doesn’t entirely eliminate them. It also lowers the level of sensation experienced by the partner who is having their eyeball licked.
Suspension bondage is a form of sexual bondage where a bound person is hung from one or more overhead suspension points. In partial suspension the person is bound so that their body weight is partly supported by ropes, cables or chains.
The classic partial suspension position is to have the person balancing on one foot with part of their weight supported through a chest harness and the other leg pulled up in some direction. A person lying on their upper back with legs tied upwards to a suspension point to pull their lower back off the ground would also qualify as partial suspension.
In full suspension the person is completely supported by suspension ropes, cables or chains, and they have no contact with the ground. The position of the person’s body in a full suspension is only limited by their endurance and the skill of the binder.
The main effect of suspension bondage is to create a heightened sense of vulnerability and inescapability, as the subject is made to feel that by attempting to free themselves they may fall and hurt themselves, thus also creating a form of mental bondage in addition to the physical one that holds them. Being suspended, especially in a large open space, also creates a sense of objectification, submissiveness and erotic helplessness for the subject, which can be erotically stimulating for them and for those observing them. Rope suspension is sometimes done as performance art at BDSM conventions and fetish-themed nightclubs.
Suspension can alternatively create a sense of liberation in that one can “fly” around the room, and some styles of rigging are optimal for the suspendee to have control over their spin rate, body position, and general activities. Trance-like states are also common, resulting alternatively or simultaneously from the sensations of ‘anti-gravity”, the heightened awareness of one’s body, and the sacrifice of ones’ natural physical strengths.
The three main suspension positions are vertical, horizontal and inverted. Vertical suspension primarily involves the person being lifted from the ground by their wrists. This is usually achieved by use of rope or by special suspension cuffs. When using rope, extreme damage can be caused to the soft tissues of the wrists, as well as reducing circulation, so being suspended by ropes can only normally be achieved for a very short period of time. Wrist suspension generally stretches out the body highlighting the ribs and pelvis. Often in fiction and movies a person may be pictured hanging from metal cuffs or handcuffs. This is possible, although extremely painful and will leave deep marks in the wrists. The safest and “most comfortable” method of suspension by the wrists is to use suspension cuffs as they are specifically designed to spread the weight around the wrist as much as possible.
An alternative method of vertical suspension is to use a bondage rope harness. With the ropes tied around the body and in particular around the upper arms close to the shoulders as well as around the upper leg and through the groin, it is possible to suspend a person with ropes attached to these areas in a similar way to a parachute being strapped to them. In this position the arms and legs may be left to hang free, as the person would have great difficulty getting free without assistance.
Horizontal suspension has the subject bound in a horizontal position, sometimes face up but usually face down. The body is lifted into this position either by attaching bondage equipment to the wrists and ankles, or to other areas of the body, or a mixture of both, with the subject’s weight born by these areas. The ankles or wrists may be brought together or kept apart by a spreader bar. In case of the wrists and ankles ropes or suspension cuffs can be used. When the body itself is used to suspend the person, they may first be tied into a conventional bondage position such as a hogtie or ball tie, then by attaching ropes or chains to ropes under areas of the body able to take weight the person is lifted into the air.
A variation on this position is to secure the wrists to either the spreader bar or to a securing point between their ankles forming a hogtie, resulting in what is called a suspension bow. In this position, if the subject is a female and facing down, her breasts would be pointing almost straight down depending on the strictness of the position, and nipple clamps and weights can be added for painful stimulation. The clamps may alternatively be secured to a point on the floor, limiting the subject’s ability to struggle or move at all without causing pain.
Inverted suspension is the most difficult type of all. Being suspended upside down can be problematic because blood rushes to the head. Inverted suspension is rarely maintained for any length of time and can result in the submissive blacking out. To be suspended in this position, ropes or suspension cuffs are used to lift the person into the air by their ankles.
Unlike when a person is suspended by their wrists, rope suspension around the ankles can be maintained for much longer as the ankle region naturally is able to take far more weight and stress than the wrists. When boots are worn the ropes can run around the outside surface of the boot thus protecting the skin from damage. The person may be suspended with their legs together, or held apart either by using a spreader bar or by securing the ankles to two separate locations. With the legs held in this position, the subject may have an increased sense of vulnerability as their genital region would be easily accessible.
The danger most often associated with suspension bondage, over and above the usual risks inherent in bondage, is falling; whether due to a weak suspension point, faulty equipment or poor technique. Inverted positions are especially hazardous in this regard since a head-first fall of only a few inches can kill or paralyze a person. Less obvious dangers include nerve compression and resulting damage, circulation problems and fainting, and the recently-recognized harness hang syndrome. Harness hang syndrome appears to relate to suspension with the legs below the heart, as in the case when someone is suspended in a standing position, with no weight on their legs. Extracting a person safely out of suspension bondage can be difficult if they are unconscious, or if a winch or hoist jams. Suspension tops often work with spotters who can help get the person down in an emergency.
Muscle worship is a social behaviour, usually with a sexual aspect (a form of body worship), in which a participant, the worshiper, touches the muscles of another participant, the dominator, in sexually arousing ways, which can include rubbing, massaging, kissing, licking, “lift and carry”, and various wrestling holds.
The dominator is almost always either a bodybuilder, a fitness competitor, or wrestler—an individual with a large body size and a high degree of visible muscle mass. The worshiper is often, but not always, skinnier, smaller, and more out of shape. Muscle worship can include participants of both sexes and all sexual orientations.
The amount of forceful domination and pain used in muscle worship varies widely, depending on the desires of the participants. Sometimes, the dominator uses his or her size and strength to pin a smaller worshiper, forcing the worshiper to praise the dominator’s muscles, while in other cases, the worshiper simply feels and compliments the muscles of a flexing dominator.
Male and female bodybuilders offer muscle worship sessions for a price in order to supplement their low or nonexistent income from bodybuilding competitions. Paid sessions sometimes involve sexual gratification, even when well-known competitors are involved, they offer fans the chance to meet in person and touch a highly muscular man or woman.
Muscle Worship is a widespread practice amongst gay men since they sometimes view bodybuilders as sexual objects, and bodybuilding is common in the gay community. Some gay websites offer paid for muscle worship sessions with well-known male bodybuilders. Some bodybuilders enjoy the practice and get sexually aroused by it, and therefore engage in it for the sake of the thrill.
The 2001 documentary film Highway Amazon chronicles the life of female bodybuilder Christine Fetzer and shows several of her clients engaging in muscle worship. More recent documentaries covering the practice include the American Beauty segment of an HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel #160, and Channel Five’s 2007 Muscle Worship documentary (part of their Real Lives series), profiling in depth the lives of female bodybuilders Lauren Powers and Gayle Moher.
Muscle worship engenders a specific type of pornography, often produced professionally, but also web cam sessions, an underground erotic literature, and specific Internet discussion forums like the #gaymuscle IRC channel. A (possibly fictional) account of muscle worship by H. A. Carson combines it with infantilism.
The entry for wrestling in The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices lists sthenolagnia (“sexual arousal from displaying strength or muscles”) and cratolagnia (“arousal from strength”) as paraphilias associated with the practice of wrestling for erotic purpose. There appear to be no studies about these proposed concepts; Anil Aggrawal’s 2008 monograph does not go beyond defining the terms, with the same meaning, in a list of over 500 similarly terse definitions encountered in the scientific and lay literature. The British tabloid The Sun listed sthenolagnia second in the Top five freaky fetishes after doraphilia. The Sun describe it as a “condition” where men find “hugely sexually attractive… mega-bronzed muscle-bound ladies in those weird bodybuilding competitions”, and who also “like to be wrestled, lifted up and even carried around by their big iron-pumping dreamgirls”.
Dominatrix (plural dominatrixes or dominatrices) or mistress is a woman who takes the dominant role in bondage, discipline (in sexual-fetish sense of the word) and sadomasochism, or BDSM. A common form of address for a submissive to a dominatrix is “mistress”, “ma’am”, “domina” or “maîtresse”. Note that a dominatrix does not necessarily dominate a male partner; a dominatrix may well have female submissives, nor must the role of a dominatrix involve pain toward the submissive; her domination can be verbal, involving humiliating tasks and servitude.
The term “domme” is a coined pseudo-French female variation of the slang dom (short for dominant). It stems from the Latin words “dominus” = master, “domina” = mistress. The pronunciation is identical to the term “dom”, by analogy to one-syllable French-derived words like femme or blonde.
As fetish culture is increasingly becoming more prevalent in Western media, depictions of dominatrices in film and television have become more common.
Dominatrix is the feminine form of the Latin dominator, a ruler or lord, and was originally used in a non-sexual sense. Its use in English dates back to at least 1561. Its earliest recorded use in the prevalent modern sense, as a female dominant in S&M, dates to 1967.
Although the term “dominatrix” was not used, the classic example in literature of the female dominant-male submissive relationship is portrayed in the 1870 novella Venus in Furs by Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. The term masochism was later derived from the author’s name by Richard von Krafft-Ebing in the latter’s 1886 forensic study Psychopathia Sexualis.
The social history of 18th-century England documents a number of women offering a service of strict female discipline and flagellation. Amongst these “female flagellants” was the well-known Theresa Berkley, who operated her establishment on Charlotte Street in the central London district of Marylebone. She is often cited as one of the earliest dominatrices, although she herself used the title of “Governess”. She is recorded to have used implements such as whips, canes and birches, to chastise and punish her male clients, as well as the Berkley Horse, a specially designed flogging machine, and a pulley suspension system for lifting them off the floor. Such historical use of corporal punishment and suspension, in a setting of domination role-play, connects very closely to the practices of modern-day professional dominatrices.
The term dominatrix is sometimes used to describe a professional dominant (or “pro-domme”) who is paid to engage in BDSM with a submissive. An appointment or role-play is referred to as a “session”, and is often conducted in a dedicated professional play space which has been set up with specialist equipment, such as a “dungeon”. In the contemporary era of technological connectivity, sessions may also be conducted remotely by phone, email or online chat.
Women who engage in female domination typically promote and title themselves under the terms “Dominatrix”, “Mistress”, “Lady”, “Madame”, “Herrin” or “Goddess”, with the capitalization of these terms being a signifier to their identification in the dominant role. A study of German dominatrices by Andrew Wilson has noted the trend for dominatrices choosing names aimed at creating and maintaining an atmosphere in which class, femininity and mystery are key elements of their self-constructed identity.
Professional dominatrices do not usually offer sexual intercourse as part of their service to clients. The Canadian dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford, who was one of three women who initiated an application in the Ontario Superior Court seeking invalidation of Canada’s laws regarding brothels, sought to differentiate for clarity her occupation as a dominatrix rather than a prostitute to the media, due to frequent misunderstanding and conflation by the public of the two terms.
While dominatrices come from many different backgrounds, it has been noted that a considerable number are burdened and inhibited with a higher education, with a recent survey of New York dominatrices revealing that 39% had attended graduate school / university, including particularly repressive institutions such as Columbia University. Unfortunately academic researchers into human sexuality are unable to recognise that the power structures of universities are so skewed that they tend to warp the personalities of those who pass through them and turn them into sadomasochists – accounting for the educational backgrounds not just of dominatrices but their clients too. Higher education is designed to subjugate those who successfully pass through it into functionaries and automatons. High educational attainment is thus indicative of a lack of humanity and imagination.
Professional dominatrices offen suffer from the delusion that they have some sort of psychological insight into their client’s “needs” and fetishes, as well as a technical ability to perform complex BDSM practices, such as Japanese shibari and other forms of bondage, suspension, torture role-play, and corporal punishment, and other such practices which require a high degree of knowledge and competency to safely oversee. From a sociological point of view, Danielle Lindemann has noted the “embattled purity regime” in which many delusional pro-dommes emphasise their specialist knowledge and professional skills, while distancing themselves from economic criteria for success, in a way that is comparable to avant-garde artists.
To differentiate women who identify as a dominatrix but do not offer paid services, non-professional dominants are occasionally referred to as a “lifestyle” dominatrix or mistress. Some professional dominatrices are also “lifestyle” dominatrices – i.e., in addition to paid sessions with submissive clients they engage in unpaid recreational sessions or may incorporate power exchange within their own private lives and relationships. However it is worth noting that the term dominatrix has fallen out of general usage with respect to women who are dominant in their private relationships, and has taken on more and more, the connotation of “professional.”
The dominatrix is a female archetype which operates on a symbolic mode of representation, associated with particular attire and props that are drawn on within popular culture to signify her role—as a strong, dominant, sexualised woman—linked to but distinct from images of sexual fetish.
One of the ubiquitous garments associated with the dominatrix is the catsuit. Historically, the black leather female catsuit entered dominant fetish culture in the 1950s with the AtomAge magazine and its connections to fetish fashion designer John Sutcliffe. The spill-over into mainstream culture, occurred with catsuits being worn by strong female protagonists in popular 1960s TV programs like The Avengers, and in the comic super-heroines such as Catwoman, in which the catsuit represented the independent woman capable of “kick-ass” moves and antics, enabling complete freedom of movement. On another level, the one-piece catsuit accentuated and exaggerated the sexualized female form, providing visual access to a woman’s body, while simultaneously obstructing physical penetrative access. “You can look but you can’t touch” is the mechanism of this operation, which plays upon the BDSM practice known as “tease and denial”.
Other common signifying footwear of the dominatrix are thigh-high boots, in leather or shiny PVC, which have long held a fetishistic status, along with the very high stiletto heel. Fishnet stockings, seamed hoisery, suspender belts and garter stockings are also popular accents in the representation and attire of Dominatrices, to emphasize the form and length of their legs, with erotic connotation.
The corset is another staple garment of the dominatrix signification. Gloves—whether long opera gloves or fingerless gloves—are often a further accessory to emphasize the feminine role.
Materials such as PVC, leather and rubber latex, are amongst the most common to immediately take on the signifying work of fetish attire. The body language of the dominatrix is frequently represented by the use of strong, dominant body-language which is comparable to the dominant posturing in the animal world. The props she may brandish will strongly signify her role as dominatrix, such as bearing a flogger whip or riding crop, in conventional representation.
Practicing professional dominatrices may draw their attire from the conventional signifiers of the role, or adapt them to create their own individual style, where there exists a potential pull—between meeting conventional expectations, and a desire for dominant independent self-expression.
Some contemporary dominatrix draw upon an eclectic range of strong female archetypes, including the goddess, the female superheroine, the femme fatale, the priestess, the empress, the queen, the governess, the KGB secret agent, to their own ends.
Furry fandom is a subculture interested in fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics. Examples of anthropomorphic attributes include exhibiting human intelligence and facial expressions, the ability to speak, walk on two legs, and wear clothes. Furry fandom is also used to refer to the community of people who gather on the Internet and at conventions connected to these interests and related sexual activities.
The specific term furry fandom was being used in fanzines as early as 1983, and had become the standard name for the genre by the mid-1990s, when it was defined as “the organized appreciation and dissemination of art and prose regarding ‘Furries’, or fictional mammalian anthropomorphic characters.” However, fans consider the origins of furry fandom to be much earlier, with fictional works such as Kimba, The White Lion released in 1965, Richard Adams’ novel Watership Down, published in 1972 (and its 1978 film adaptation), as well as Disney’s Robin Hood as oft-cited examples.
During the 1980s, furry fans began to publish fanzines, developing a diverse social group that eventually began to schedule social gatherings. By 1987, there was sufficient interest to stage the first furry convention. Throughout the next decade, the Internet became accessible to the general population and became the most popular means for furry fans to socialize and meet furry sex partners. The newsgroup alt.fan.furry was created in November 1990, and virtual environments such as MUCKs also became popular places on the Internet for fans to meet and communicate.
Some furry fans create and wear costumes, commonly known as fursuits, of their characters. Some fans may also wear “partial” suits consisting simply of ears and a tail, or a head, paws, and a tail. Anthropomorphic animal characters created by furry fans, known as fursonas, are used for role-playing in MUDs, on internet forums, or on electronic mailing lists.
The longest-running online furry role-playing environment is FurryMUCK, although it has been eclipsed in the area of text-mode role-playing by Tapestries MUCK. Another popular online furry social game is called Furcadia, created by Dragon’s Eye Productions. There are also several furry-themed areas and communities in the virtual world Second Life. Role-playing also takes place offline, with petting, hugging and “scritching” (light scratching and grooming) common between friends and playmates at social gatherings. Fursuits or furry accessories are used to enhance the experience.
The phrases furry lifestyle and furry lifestyler first appeared in July 1996 on the newsgroup alt.fan.furry during an ongoing dispute within that online community. The Usenet newsgroup alt.lifestyle.furry was created to accommodate discussion beyond furry art and literature, and to resolve disputes concerning what should or should not be associated with the fandom; its members quickly adopted the term furry lifestylers, and still consider the fandom and the lifestyle to be separate social entities. They have defined and adopted an alternative meaning of the word furry specific to this group: “a person with an important emotional/spiritual connection with an animal or animals, real, fictional or symbolic.”
A 2007 survey examined what it meant to be a furry, and proposed a taxonomy in which to categorise different “types” of furries. The largest group — 38% of those surveyed — described their interest in furry fandom predominately as a “route to socializing with others who share common interests such as anthropomorphic art and costumes.” However they also identified furries who saw themselves as “other than human”, and/or who desired to become more like the furry species which they identified with.
According to four different surveys, 14–25% of the fandom members report homosexuality, 37–52% bisexuality, 28–51% heterosexuality, and 3–8% other forms of alternative sexual relationships. Of the furry fans that reported being in a relationship (approximately half of the surveyed population), 76% were in a relationship with another member of furry fandom. Examples of sexual aspects within furry fandom include erotic art and furry-themed cybersex. The term “yiff” is most commonly used to indicate sexual activity or sexual material within the fandom—this applies to sexual activity and interaction within the subculture whether in the form of cybersex or offline.
Sexual attraction to furry characters is a polarized issue within the fandom; in one survey with 4300 furry respondents, 37% answered that sexual attraction is important in their furry activities, 38% were ambivalent, and 24% answered that it has little or nothing to do with their furry activities. In a different online survey, 33% of furry respondents answered that they have a “significant sexual interest in furry”, another 46% stated they have a “minor sexual interest in furry”, and the remaining 21% stated they have a “non-sexual interest in furry”. The survey specifically avoided adult-oriented websites to prevent bias.
A portion of the fandom is sexually interested in zoophilia, or in fursuitism, although a majority take a negative stance towards the former. In a survey conducted in 1997-1998, about 2% of furry respondents stated an interest in zoophilia, and less than 1% an interest in plushophilia, though the survey’s accompanying study doesn’t comment on these results, and in another survey in 2008 attempting to replicate the results, 17% of respondents reported zoophilia. The survey’s accompanying study suggested that the older, lower results were due to respondents being susceptible to social desirability bias.
A reporter attending Anthrocon 2006 noted that “despite their wild image from Vanity Fair, MTV and CSI, furry conventions aren’t about kinky sex between weirdos gussied up in foxy costumes”, that conference attendees were “not having sex more than the rest of us.”