Hey you strange creatures from all over the internet, be they furry, scaley, aquatic, or some weird space-faring cannibalistic cheese-wedge! It’s time again for the InkedFur Furry Friday, brought to you once again by the people at the strange hybrid of arts and bulges that is, indeed, InkedFur.com. Use the supersecret code “listen2badger” for a discount!
While you guys run to the feeding troughs labeled for your species and the avian furs screech loudly and without purpose in your ears, I’m gonna fill the void that is your self-respect with yet another legal issue that touches on the issues of the Furry Fandom as we deep dive into disgrace.
Specifically, we’re going to talk about something that concerns the fuck out of me, and that’s the interactions within the furry fandom of older, and likely well-meaning, members and the younger generation nipping at their heels to take over the torch. Yep, guys, today I’m writing the furry equivalent of a “how to deal with millennials” piece telling you what the pitfalls, legal and practical, are from the social interactions folks may have with minors in the furry fandom, and especially how to take the time to cover your ass while still being supportive. We’re going to do this in two parts: Romantic Interactions and the inherent risks, and next time Social Interactions and the inherent risks.
So, with all the pups and cubs safely in bed, let’s just get right into the whole fucking issue that is the human puppy mill of the furry fandom in “A Minor Problem, Part 1: Your Underage Romance.”
Point 1: Statistically Furries are Young
Alright, let’s just get it out of the way: the furry fandom is a predominantly young one, with approximately 45% of it between the ages of 10 and 19 years as of 2012 according to one survey. However, other studies put the number of people under 18 in the furry fandom somewhere in the 20-25% range (although that’s an estimate due to some ethical restrictions in surveying minors for a scientific study) as the folks over at FurScience have said. No matter what numbers are correct though, 1/3 to 1/5 of a community is a huge fucking chunk of the total community, even estimated, and the odds of interacting with a minor in the furry fandom are pretty goddamn high for the over 18 crowd.
Point 2: It’s All On The Net.
First, yeah, I’m one of those guys who refer to the internet as “The Net” with proper capitalization and everything. By the way, you guys ever seen that movie “The Net?” Lord, was that a fucking terrible film or what? Like, it tried to make the internet sexy and adventurous, when the truth of the matter, especially back in 1995, was that every sexy, adventurous person you met on the internet in an AOL chatroom was more likely to be a fucking trucker named Stan who weighed like 400 pounds.
Which is sort of the part of the second point: the majority of the furry community is on the internet. Big secret: I’m reading this book called “Furry Nation” for the purposes of reviewing it, and it states that the whole “furry scene” fucking exploded when people started using the internet as a form of communication to link up with other people who thought a Musky Mustelid was the best way to express their artistic inclinations. The good folks over at FurScience confirmed this in their report, stating that the majority of furry interactions are on the internet and not taking place under the “evil yellow burning ball in the sky,” conventions notwithstanding.
So, you know, there are issues here with people on the internet communicating about the furry fandom in that some of those people may be…you know…under the age of 18.
Point 3: …Sex is a part of it.
Alright. So, hear me out here: Sex is a natural thing that people do, and there’s absolutely no issue with that. FurScience, in their study, indicate that roughly 37% of the respondents in their survey state they “Strongly or Moderately Agree” with the statement that their motivation in the fandom is related to sex. And that’s cool. It’s fine. Look, at the local bar on a single’s night, sex is like 80% of the motivating factor for people to be there, so while sex is a big part of participation, it’s still well less than half of the motivation for the statistical sample used in that study.
But it is a part of it. So we have to recognize that.
The Problem Becomes Apparent When You Bring It All Together.
So if we look at those three points, here’s what we’re left with:
The furry community has a very large percentage of people between the ages of 10 and 19, exists primarily on the back of anonymous online interactions, and has a statistically significant number of participants who view sex as a motivating factor. Individually all of these things are cool. Taken altogether, though, what we have is a potential recipe for disaster, not because of anything inherent in the furry fandom, but because of the increased risk of a perfect storm for the innocent furry who simply wants to help a kid out as they discover themselves or support them in their effort to find a community.
Even if a person acts completely appropriately, there is a certain pallor that falls over interactions between fully grown, legal adults and minors, especially online where such interactions can turn inappropriate and people, both minors and adults, can mask their true identities and intentions. Plus, it’s not in question that as a community the furry community has its fair share of bad actors, predators, etc. Every community does. Then there’s the media generalizations of the furry fandom as an almost exclusively sexual community, because that’s the shit that sells papers (do people still read papers?). So, at some point, chances are you’ll have an interaction with a minor, and it’ll fucking go bad. The risk is real.
And for some people, the risk is more than real. For some people, they may be engaging in and forming romantic relationships with these kids. I’m not even talking about pedophiles here, I’m talking about the 18-20 year old who meets a 16 year old kid online and they form a romantic relationship.
And those guys are definitely at fucking risk, because:
Age of Consent Doesn’t Fucking Matter.
There are people out there who keep goddamn maps of the age of consent in a specific state, and point to the varied ages of consent as some sort of magical shield against anything that may happen to them.
So let me make it clear: On the Internet, it doesn’t fucking matter whether someone is over their state’s age of consent.
Take, for example, Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania the age of consent is 16 years. At 16 years of age, you can legally have sex with whoever you fucking want in Pennsylvania.
But for online interactions? Well…
Unlawful Contact with a Minor (18 Pa. C.S. § 6318)
(a) Offense Defined – A person commits an offense if he is intentionally in contact with a minor, or a law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his duties who has assumed the identity of a minor, for the purpose of engaging in an activity prohibited under any of the following, and either the person initiating the contact or the person being contacted is within this Commonwealth:
- Any of the offenses enumerated in 18 Pa. Chapter 31 (relating to sexual offenses);
- Open lewdness as defined in 18 Pa. C.S. § 5901 (relating to Open Lewdness);
- Prostitution as defined in 18 Pa. C.S. § 5902 (relating to Prostitution and Related Offenses);
- Obscene and other Sexual Materials and performances as defined in 18 Pa. C.S. § 5903 (relating to Obscene and other Sexual Materials and Performances);
- Sexual abuse of children as defined in 18 Pa. C.S. § 6312 (relating to Sexual Abuse of Children); or
- Sexual exploitation of children as defined in 18 Pa. C.S. § 6320 (relating to Sexual Exploitation of Children).
(c) DEFINITIONS – The following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:
“Computer” – An electronic, magnetic, optical, hydraulic, organic or other high-speed data processing device or system which performs logic, arithmetic or memory functions and includes all input, output, processing, storage, software or communication facilities which are connected or related to the device in a computer system or computer network.
“Computer Network” – The interconnection of two or more computers through the usage of satellite, microwave, line or other communication medium.
“Computer System” – A set of related, connected or unconnected computer equipment, devices and software.
“Contacts” – Direct or indirect contact or communication by any means, method or device, including any contact or communication in person or through an agent or agency, through any print medium, the mails, a common carrier or communication common carrier, any electronic communication system and any telecommunications, wire, computer, or radio communications device or system.
“Minor” – An individual under 18 years of age.
Did you read that? You should, because almost every state has a similar law. Notice the definition of the word “Minor” for this specific offense. It does not say “A person below the age of consent.” It does say a person below 18 years of age. And most of the states with these statutes define “minor” the exact same way.
So here’s the thing: you can have sex with a person in Pennsylvania who is 16 or older without violating any law. However, you cannot have sexual conversations with a minor, or send them any pornographic material, or attempt to gain consent to have sex with them, over any electronic means without opening yourself up to being charged with Corruption of a Minor.
Which, by the way, is a fucking sex offense.
Now, I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but prosecutors aren’t exactly known for their leniency on these sorts of offenses. It looks good to have a DA with a number of convictions and a history of going after child predators. By the way, folks, quick note: It doesn’t matter if the minor is the one who initiated the contact. The law doesn’t give a fuck.
And this shit? Well, it can end in a conviction and a life-ruining sentence, regardless of whether the person is 17 or not.
My Boyfriend is 16, I’ll Just Have Him Come Here.
Nope. Nope. Nope.
There’s this thing out there called the Mann Act. The Mann Act is a federal law which makes it illegal for you to transport a person under the age of 18 across state lines to engage in sexual conduct, or entice such a person to transport themselves. When you say “I’ll have my boyfriend who is underage in his state come to my state where he isn’t underage to have sex,” you’re technically in violation of the Mann Act.
Why the disparity? Well, because in one case the whole relationship is in a state that the federal government has no purview over. Generally, the federal government won’t muck about in exclusively intrastate matters because states are sovereigns in their own right and capable of taking care of those things. In this case, though, you’ve placed yourself in the interstate stream, and the federal government definitely has fucking authority there and likes to use that authority to beat people like fuzzy pinatas. So if you’re bringing anyone under the age of 18 into your state for an even remotely sexual reason, the possibility of a federal prosecution comes into play damn near immediately.
Well, We’re Within 3 Years of Each Other!
Once again, doesn’t fucking matter in most situations.
What you’re referring to are “Romeo and Juliet” laws, where you’ll have something like “The age of consent is 16, but we don’t prosecute consensual encounters if the offender is within 4 years of the age of the minor, so this 15 year old and this 19 year old are fine.” This is because state legislatures have recognized those relationships happen, and they’re not inherently bad.
However, those are state legislatures, and once again, they will not fucking apply to online interactions or romantic sexual activity crossing state lines. The Mann Act takes care of the latter, and various state and federal laws take care of the former. So, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter where the fuck you are, because sexual online communication with a person under the age of 18 is illegal just about everywhere under state and federal law, and if the purpose of someone under the age of 18 traveling to meet you (or you traveling to meet them) is arguably sexual in nature you can be charged with a violation of the Mann Act.
Them’s the breaks.
If they aren’t in your fucking state, don’t have a relationship or sexual communication of any sort with someone under the age of 18. Even if they are in your state, don’t do that shit online.
You’re Being Dramatic.
I’m being practical. Where you engage in a romantic or sexual communication or relationship with someone under the age of 18 in an online forum, or even in person under the right circumstances, you are opening yourselves up to a harsh area of law. Those are the facts of the matter, and teens…aren’t exactly known for handling relationship matters in the best way.
Look, guys, you may not like it, but….
What If They MAY Be Underage?
You should be verifying the age of your romantic partners the moment you have any goddamn reason to question it. Check ID’s, kids.
Fuck off. This is what I do. If it’s true love, it’ll wait until they’re 18.
Now, this isn’t to say you can’t be a friend to a person under 18 and try to help them through a hard time. We’re not talking about social interactions right now. We’re talking about romantic ones. The social interactions is next time, and that’s where I’m going to tell you that it’s okay to have social interactions with the young’ins.
You know. So long as you document fucking everything. But I’ll talk about that next time.
Back to the Kennel, Folks.
Alright, that’ll wrap up another Furry Friday here on L&L. Go forth and sparkle, you crazy dogs, and give some love to the guys over at InkedFur.com, who keep bringing you this shit month after month. Also, this month by using the code “listen2badger” you can get a $7.00 discount on some…interesting…mousepads.