Furry fetishism (autoplushophilia or plushophilia), and its related sub-fetishes, is the sexual arousal that depends upon imagining oneself as a plush or an animal character, and the definition can be considered quite broad. When you first hear about autoplushophilia, also called plushophilia, your reaction may be, wait, that's a thing? You might have never heard of this sexual fetish before, or maybe you have yet to try it out. As a result, it can be challenging to understand.
More so, if you haven't heard of it before; however, these days, everyone from online pornographers to mainstream celebrities and even some sex education experts are talking about it, so you might have some questions about what precisely this fetish entails and whether or not it's something you should try exploring in your own life. So that's what we will talk about today and, for the curious, how to explore your furry fetish safely.
Autoplushophilia - The Furry Fetish
Are you fur real? The fetish of fur is a hard-to-explain sexual phenomenon that many don't understand. So just what is it about animals—in particular, fluffy or furry animals like cats, dogs, foxes, and rabbits—that make people so enamored with them and want to be one of them for sexual pleasure? This has been dubbed autoplushophilia—one's desire to become an object themselves or have a significant other that isn't human. I interviewed several couples who enjoy this furry aspect of their erotic partnership and experience the highest level of trust and intimacy and was overwhelmed with excitement to share with me the intricacies of just how furry fetishists' have a positive effect on their relationship.
It's not as strange as you might think. From soft plushies to anime characters, there are plenty of fetishes out there involving animated things we love (or wish we loved), but it's understandable if you wonder whether these erotic preferences fall in line with broader concepts of bestiality or zoophilia (humans who enjoy sex with animals). Many don't realize that zoophilia refers more specifically to humans having sex with non-human animals (Bering, 2010); those aroused by plushies would generally consider their feelings more akin to a rubber fetish than any actual pet ownership. So does being into plushies mean you're also into furries? In short: no.
Who Are Furries, and Why Do They Exist?
This History Behind Furries and Where Does Furry Come From?
Psychologist Anne Lawrence proposed that sexual attraction or arousal of "anthropomorphic animal characters" termed autoplushophilia (Lawrence, 2009) as "plushophiles," or people with a fetish for stuffed (plush) animals (furries, plushies, and plushophiles) (2009); however, Dr. Lawrence's research or view can be problematic in understanding that "not all fursuiters have plushophilia" (Austin, 2021). Plushies may develop sexual desires for stuffed animals and sometimes even become aroused from sleeping with them, but they do not see stuffed animals as human replacements or pretend that they are humans. While furry and plushie can be used interchangeably to describe an individual who has a sexual interest in stuffed animals, another group uses these terms—the furries themselves. Furries often dress up as anthropomorphic animal characters (such as mice or wolves) while playing roleplaying games (i.e., fandom).The attraction to animal characters with human characteristics is not necessarily a sexual fetish. Individuals can identify "with an animal as part of their personality" (Austin, 2021). That being said, others may be aroused by furry because they find anthropomorphic characteristics to be arousing in and of themselves. Others might find it sexually stimulating to imagine themselves as animal characters while having sex.
Understanding The Underlying Psychology Of Furries and Autoplushrophiliacs
Autoplushophilia is one of those fetishes that's so strange, and it leaves people scratching their heads--people are aroused by plush or soft materials -- or even stuffed animals. Autoplushophiliacs get turned on by furry-themed pornography and roleplay in which they imagine themselves as plush toys and other furries. But does that mean all furries have an underlying fetish? Of course not. What makes someone turn to plush or animal characters for sexual release? The answer, of course, is psychological. Whatever the understanding, just like anyone else, individuals who fantasize about being plushies tend to be compassionate and just like anyone else, suffer from anxiety when they don't feel accepted or loved.
So just like with any fetish, there are psychosocial factors at play here -- not because it's considered deviant, is abnormal, or unhealthy--but because when someone feels safe with another individual (or individuals), they can allow his hidden fantasies to come out and thrive. Every fantasy begins somewhere before being explored in greater detail. These fantasies can enhance your sexual experience in many ways; if you are interested in exploring your furry fetish fantasies through actual sexual activity, here are a few tips for how to begin.
Best Practices For Discreet Autoplushophiliacs
If you're interested in exploring your furry fetish, it's best to figure out what level of furriness you're comfortable with. Many people wear a pair of fur-lined panties and call it a day; others go all out with mascot costumes and full-body fursuits. For some people, imagining themselves as an animal is enough; for others, it's roleplaying as well. There aren't many rules of engagement; more often than not, you can make up your own rules. One important rule to remember is to be careful about telling other people what you do in bed. Your kink isn't anyone else's business—and if they don't want to be involved, why force them into something that makes them uncomfortable?
Exploring your kinks and fetishes with another human being is far different from broadcasting them on social media, where everyone has access to your intimate thoughts. It may be an unpopular opinion, but before posting anything online, ask yourself how you would feel if your coworkers or family members read these posts about you. The answer might surprise you. Keep things private unless you trust whoever's asking. You'll save yourself from awkward conversation down the road.
Best Practices for Public Autoplushophiliacs
Autoplushophilia is a relatively rare fetish, but it's gaining interest. There are several best practices for exploring your furry fetish in public. First, it's best to keep it as private as possible for personal privacy reasons, especially if you're not yet comfortable or ready to tell others about your fetish. However, there are certain situations where you might need to let others know that you have an Autoplushophilia fetish, and they may need to understand what that means.
If someone asks you if your plush animal costume is just a costume, don't be afraid to say yes and explain why you enjoy wearing one. If anyone ever says anything negative about having such a fetish or looking like an animal, remind them of their ignorance by simply saying: You don't see me telling people how ugly their shoes are. This can be a viable argument against negativity from people who do not understand fetishes like Autoplushophilia and don't expect them to understand.
Bottom line: The way you love, how you love, fuck, suck, fetishize, roleplay, etc., ain't nobody's business but your own. The beauty of understanding and knowing who you are--is also knowing that there are other people just like you and enjoy roleplaying the interests you love most. So allow like-minded people into your space. It's about one's self-concept, safety, preference, and the understanding that you do whatever it is that makes you happy.
As always, play safe, my friends!
Austin, J. R. (2021). Fan identities in the furry fandom. Bloomsbury Academic, Bloomsbury Publishing Inc.
Bering, J. (2010, March 24). Animal lovers: Zoophiles make scientists Rethink Human Sexuality. Scientific American Blog Network. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/bering-in-mind/animal-lovers-zoophiles-make-scientists-rethink-human-sexuality/
Lawrence, A. A. (2009). Erotic Target Location Errors: An underappreciated paraphilic dimension. Journal of Sex Research, 46(2-3), 194–215. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224490902747727