Therian elitism is something which I have noticed going on the therian community for years. I use this term loosely, and don’t claim it to be a set term for the concept. However, I feel that it’s an issue that needs to be addressed, and it’s something which really bothers me.
How many of us have walked into a therian chat and regardless of whether or not we’ve been in the therian community for years – have been immediately shot down by people who treat us like we don’t fit into their “club,” or who degrade us for saying that we’re a therian in the first place? How many of us have been to a forum or website only to be shot down for our ideas? How many people who actually are new to therianthropy are pushed away from the community because they appear to be noobish?
Ladies and gentlemen, this needs to stop. We need to start being a bit more careful how we treat others, and we need to stop acting as if therianthropy is a clique or high-school club that people have to fit into and follow the trends to be a part of.
I completely understand that there are a certain number of people who misunderstand that therians are real, and think that it’s just one big roleplaying game. To all of us, that kind of thing can be very frustrating, especially if we run into it a lot. But what I’ve found in general is that people like that are quite obvious, and that they make it quite clear right away that they aren’t serious about the topic of therianthropy. So, why the suspicion upon meeting members we perceive to be new to the therianthropy community? Ignorance speaks for itself.
Honestly, no one should feel they have to “prove” anything to anyone. Beyond the stereotypical roleplayer who doesn’t take therianthropy seriously, why do the rest of us have to “prove” that we’re therian? The last time I checked, therianthropy was something which could not be proven. You cannot prove that you’re an animal spirit, that you were a certain creature in a past life, or that you have a connection to a certain animal. That is something that comes from self-exploration, from looking into yourself. What person can look into yourself but yourself? No one can. Therefore, it’s not possible to prove yourself to anyone, and the people who seem to think it is necessary are highly mistaken, for they don’t seem to realize that no one can prove that they are or aren’t therian.
Likewise, without divulging personal information, how can you “prove” something over the internet, anyway? Should you give out your name, age and personal information to prove something? No, you should not give any information that you don’t feel comfortable giving. That is your right.
While noobish talk and bad grammar and spelling are things which drive me completely bonkers, we often treat possible new therians or those who are exploring themselves or interested in the topic, as if they are dumb. Yes, we’ve seen some of these things over and over. Yes, rules are often in place to ensure that people at least do their best and try to write legibly. But why are a new person’s questions often treated with disrespect? Regardless of whether we have answered the same questions time and time again, we should continue to answer them. How many people are we driving away and confusing because we refuse to take them seriously? Though those questions might seem a little beginner-ish to a seasoned therian, that is one reason why we seasoned therians are in the community – to help others in knowing themselves by sharing what we know or have found out through experience.
Now, I will address assumptions. Just because you may not have met someone yet – that does not automatically mean that the new person you are meeting is new to therianthropy, or that you should walk all over them. They are not there to be talked down to or disrespected. They are not to be treated as if they don’t fit into your “club.” They are simply someone you don’t know, and quite frankly, you learn far more if you keep your mind open and don’t assume things about this person of whom you have never met up until now. Likewise, you should never expect such a person to try to fit into your “pack,” or treat them disrespectfully until they prove themselves to you. You are not some all-powerful being that we all need to prove ourselves to.
Therianthropy is not a clique. It is not a club. It is not something you should have to “fit into.” The opinions on the definitions of therianthropy are quite varied, but I’m pretty sure that “the club that the cool people who feel they are animals fit into” is not one of the accepted definitions. Generally, a therian is described as someone who feels they are somehow a non-human animal on the inside, or that a part of them is a non-human animal – in addition to being human.
It is not our place to tell people that they are or are not therian. It’s not our place to treat someone poorly until they prove they are cool enough for our club. It’s not our place to tell people who they have to be to fit in. It’s our place to educate people, to help possible therians discover themselves. Of course, you do not have to do this – no one does – but if you can’t say something productive or helpful, then please, you are free to not say anything.
Another thing – you, as a therian, are not superior to any non-therian out there. Being an animal spirit or whatever you consider therianthropy to be does not mean that you are better than anyone else. Insulting another person, whether therian or not, by acting like they aren’t therian and therefore aren’t someone worth treating with respect is wrong. In life, I have met good and bad non-therians. Some are complete jerks, but some are really great people that are worth knowing. Likewise, I have known therians who are great people, as well as therians who act like jerks. Generally, in most walks of life and in most groupings of people, there are those who are good people as well as those who aren’t. Therianthropy is no exception, and being therian does not give anyone license to act as if they are superior to anyone else. Do something productive with what you know. Don’t just use it as an excuse to think you’re better than anyone. Chances are that if you think you’re better than people, you’re not.