Monday, December 14, 2009
Abuse of Furries in SL: A Student Learns
Location: Luskwood and Beyond
One student, whose name I'll withhold, had wondered whether or not the Furry subculture in Second Life was subject to the sort of discrimination that mostly eluded my students' dark-skinned human avatars.
She and a friend had traveled to Luskwood to interview SL's furries. Their respondents, while polite and helpful to the students' final project, boiled their replies down to "you will only know when you try it."
So they gave her a furry suit and sent her out into the larger world. Right away, trouble resulted as soon as someone said "Oh, look. A talking animal."
The image above shows the student being set alight by a group of furry-haters who also ran her down with a train and bumped her repeatedly. She was called a "furfag" and when she returned to Luskwood, the Furs there replied "we told you so." I suppose she could have filed an abuse report, but she was, in effect, baiting the griefers just to see what does happen to a Furry in an unfriendly environment.
Note the ironic backdrop: a menorah and Christmas Tree.
My student had no real-life interest in the Furry subculture, so the abuse against her, as a Furry, had no lasting impact. Her first-hand experience, however, accomplished what no reading could do: educating her to what can occur when one steps outside the boundaries of behavior or appearance deemed "normal" by bigots.