The Definition of "Anthropomorphism"

by Mariah published on Sep 2, 2020 12 min read
Art: @ZlPPYWATER

Recently, I have seen many mentions of a new website that has garnered a lot of attention across all of my social channels. The website is targeted for the Anthro community and appears to have many good features in place that would benefit artists from most sectors, but at the same time, it seems to have created yet another divide among us. Just like my article on the toxicity of cancel culture, I am not here to talk about morals or the legal system; that is something for each individual and their lawyers to discuss. What I want to focus on is why we, as a community, insist on turning our crosshairs on each other. For just a moment, let's all take a step back and take a look at what we enjoy as a fandom.

When I talk about the Anthro community, I am speaking about all of us. I have avoided saying "Furry Fandom" in my articles because those two words, when used together, are incredibly polarizing. Even if you try to start the most friendly of conversations with someone about our community, as soon as the phrase "furry fandom" comes up, so do many outdated opinions and old news headlines. Our community is not bad! We are not bad people. We aren't any different from the next human being. Most of us work normal jobs, have some form of education, buy art we like with money we earn, and this is our hobby. There is a lot of good here and I want everyone to see that. The day we stop tearing each other down because of our internal disagreements will be a wonderful day to be a part of this community; but, I digress.

According to Merriam-Webster, Anthropomorphism is defined as:

"An interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics [see] HUMANIZATION."

Which leads us to the following definition of Humanization:

"To represent as human [or]attribute human qualities to."

By definition, the Anthro community is incredibly encompassing and when you take a look around, isn't our fandom one of the most welcoming ones out there? We have individuals from all over the world with characters and sona's of all shapes, species, and sizes creating many different things for each other. In reality, our community isn't just the animals we know to exist on planet Earth either. We have dragons, monsters, werewolves, sparkledogs, fantastic hybrids, and so much more! All of us are here because we love anthropomorphic creatures. That's what makes our community a, well, community. Not just another fandom.

When we take a look at the definition of Anthropomorphism and apply it to the art in our community, you can't just stop at certain things and say, "Yeah, that's an Anthro." Sure, there are colloquial definitions that we all understand, but lately those definitions have become more and more weaponized to segregate out specific sections of our community as being "less desirable" than others. This toxicity over certain aspects in art is exactly what I want us to all stop and think about. Creating divides in the community over who's morals are better is not what the Anthro fandom is about. After all, aren't we all anthro's when you really think about it?

To give just a few examples of what I mean, all of the below characters are, by definition, anthropomorphized. The only thing that really sets them apart is their stature. Once again, this article is not about morals or advocating for any particular group. What I want all of us to do is just stop for a second and think about why we are here.

The first example I want to talk about is what we all colloquially know to be an "anthro" character. This is me as drawn by Coonkun! My sona, Mariah, is typically seen walking on two legs and wearing clothes. Sometimes she even has a microphone in her hands and is singing her heart out. She is very humanized per the definition above and that's what makes her anthropomorphized. She has several human qualities that I have given her to represent me in the community. She is 4' tall, walks, talks, and interacts with the world around her in the same way I would in real life. Pretty neat, right?

There are lots of different examples of characters like this and you see them in your feed every single day. The art of these characters is also just as varied. It can be happy, sad, dramatic, dynamic, you name it! There isn't a single theme that you can't find out there and although I don't talk about it much, we all know about the huge business of NSFW art that drives our community. There isn't any shame in that either! Some artists have made their entire living out of drawing NSFW art of bi-pedal anthropomorphic characters, but, is this really all there is to our community? Could you imagine if characters like this were the only ones that existed; just two legged, furred, human-like creatures with ears? Well, history is a funny thing, and the stature of anthro creatures has been diversifying since the early 1900s!

This is Lohkami! An anthropomorphic dragon. I interact with them almost every single day. They walk, talk, and have plenty of other human qualities to share. By definition, Lohkami is also an anthro and just as much a member of our community as I am, even though they walk on four legs instead of two. I treat them just like I would any other individual and we are great friends.

Meet Cotton Moo, a character created by PrettyPinkPony and drawn here by Yurusa! She is as soft and as sweet as can be, and by the looks of it comfortable on either two or four legs! She has an affinity for her little duckling named Knox who is always with her and she happily shares her time with her friends when she has a moment to spare. She is certainly anthropomorphized, just look at her eyes and that little blep!

When is the last time you saw a pink cow wandering around? What other community are you going to find such variety in the individuals that create it? This is just another part of what makes us great!

Take a look at this suave guy who happens to be named Sky! Now, I can already hear some of you screaming from across the internet:

"Hey! Wait a minute! That's a Pony and they have their own community!"

While you are correct that Sky is indeed a Pony, he is also an anthro character! He has many human-like qualities that I'm sure you would greatly enjoy if you took a minute to get to know him. Just look at that charm and the fact that he needs two mirrors to see himself from every angle before making a pass at the individual who has the keys to that 1971 Plymouth Vista Cruiser. I'm way off topic here but my point still remains: Our community is extremely diverse and the word "Anthro" applies to a whole lot more than you may think!

In summary, the Anthro Community was created by a mutual love for anthropomorphized creatures of all shapes, sizes, species, and statures. I'm sorry I didn't get to talk about a character with no legs at all, I just don't happen to know any that I could have asked to participate in this article.

The fact that we are, once again, turning our crosshairs on each other over the art that is created within our group is saddening. Of course we all have our opinions about the art we see but being hostile towards each other just isn't the answer. It doesn't matter how your sona walks, talks, or interacts with the world around them. If they have human qualities, then they are still an anthropomorphic creature and a part of the fandom as a whole. Everyone is going to have an opinion, but how they share it is what really counts.

These new websites will continue to pop-up here and there and I hope that one day a new one actually makes it. There will never be a place where everyone agrees on everything and these utopias that everyone dreams of where "oh, this art is banned because of 'x' content restriction" is only going to create small pockets of people spread between them, not a new community as a whole.

What we could really use is a place for everyone with proper tagging, sorting, blacklisting, and blocking features where you don't have to see what you don't want to. Where artists are free to create without restrictions that are not already defined by the laws of our society. I think there is a reason why there isn't a "moral police force" in the real world. If you really think about it, we would probably all be either banned to some island or locked away in horny jail forever. After all, there are ways to exist with people who create things that don't fit in with your taste.

For me, personally, I really don't like gore art. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable even to this day to see. How do I get around it when it's so common? I simply don't follow artists who draw it so I don't see it in my feed, but that doesn't mean that I'm not friends with artists who create it. I will say though, the last time I checked it's pretty illegal to disembowel someone for pleasure, but it doesn't make the people who depict it in their art any less good. Why is it so hard for us to all like different things but still be friends?

Let the websites that choose to cherry-pick what content is okay come and go. There is a reason why the communities that gather around them tend to be on the smaller side. Creating content restrictions that exist outside of the laws of society are the invisible moral police that will tear the site apart from the inside out. A good site will be the one where everyone can create freely and you can choose the content you wish to see. Something that is built around customization for the consumer on an individual level, not around polls or politics.

How do you think Twitter got so big? It wasn't just clever marketing.

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