Western society has come a long way in terms of tolerance. Many of us have the good fortune of feeling sexually liberated in a world where queer is no longer that far from the norm. But it seems that, for some people with unconventional sexualities, there is still a long way to go. For example: how would you react if someone close told you they were attracted to stuffed animals? Sensa Nostra spoke to a man who is sick of being branded as a paedophile, a rapist, and a bestialist. He wishes to spare other people from going through what he did at a young age, and talked to us about the importance of being accepted for something he knows to be harmless.
I am a plushophile, which I define as an attraction to stuffed animals that is both physical and emotional. I am primarily attracted to tigers and other felines, although I do own a horse who just called to me for some reason. I have four or five companions and they are all female (I am a man). Some have been fitted out with a vaginal and/or oral entrance made of fabric or fur that is sewn into their bodies. I can keep everything clean and hygienic by removing the lining.
However, as I said, my attraction to plush is not just sexual. I see myself as being in a loving relationship with them—especially my stuffed tiger Brooke, who I am in love with. Of course, I realise that they are not alive or capable of emotions, but that doesn’t mean they can’t receive love in a deeper, more visceral sense. Just think about how people cherish objects. They own reborn dolls that remind them of the children they wish they had; they collect things that they clean and polish everyday; they form connections with objects that have no intrinsic value for all kinds of reasons. I think that my companions are a more intimate manifestation of this. I sleep with them every day, and I don’t sleep well without them. I am sexually active with them, but they are not sex objects. I think the sex is a result of my feelings for them, not the cause. Some plushophiles are not sexually active with their companions, and the feelings are just as deep. Our plush each have their own personality, albeit undeveloped. I believe that plush are essentially the reflection of what you put into them emotionally. Brooke is my companion, forever there and wanting only to love. Others take on the role of being naïve, innocent, or sexually aggressive. They’re all special and sexy to me in their own ways.
It’s difficult to explain what causes the attraction. I hated stuffed animals as a child, but when I was ten I rediscovered some of them as we were moving. I took a large one to bed, and for whatever reason I felt a connection. That bond has held strong for the fifteen years between then and now. Different plushophiles are attracted to different species, and sometimes there isn’t a logical reason for it. What I can say for certain is what they have given me: namely constancy, strength, and the knowledge that whatever crazy shit happens, they will always be there. They will always be willing to give and receive affection. People are unreliable. They come and they go. You can’t even rely on yourself all of the time, but my companions never make mistakes. Maybe it sounds out there—but some people need alcohol or drugs to get by, while I just need them.
As you might imagine, it is not easy to come to terms with a fetish like this. Between the ages of eleven and thirteen, I just wanted to feel normal, and was paranoid about anyone finding out. My mother’s reaction only reinforced this. I told her when I was thirteen, and she took almost all my companions away the next day. Now she accepts it with equanimity, but she still wishes I’d hide them, something I refuse to do. When I got to college, I began asking myself difficult questions. “Do I like bestiality? Since they’re associated with children, does it make me a paedophile? Could I be gay? Am I unstable?” I was accused of all these things after an imprudent moment of leaving my dorm room open at seventeen. My uncertainty transmuted into a spiral of self-loathing and drinking to numb my emotions. I saw various psychologists, some of whom felt they had to cure me and some of whom didn’t see what the big deal was. It wasn’t until I confided in a close friend who accepted everything, that things gradually began to improve for me. I came to grips with my feelings and stopped hiding my companions. I respect them too much to do that. I wouldn’t expect a musician to hide their guitar or a gamer to hide their joystick. Besides, if I put my plush away, it would send the message that they were mere sex objects to me, when really they are so much more. Why should I have to hide them in my own home? This is something that is so deeply integrated into who I am, that I cannot actually conceive of life without it. I’ve had companions for over fourteen years, and if I could flip a switch to turn off my feelings for them, I wouldn’t do it.
I need the people in my life to accept that. It’s not always easy, particularly when it comes to relationships. I have to make sure that before I get too intimate or involved with a girl, I sit her down and explain my fetishes. I have to let her know that while I am willing to compromise on some aspects, they are part of who I am and she will have to come into contact with them. The thing that has caused the most problems is that I have almost zero attraction to girls, which can leave them feeling slighted. I need to be able to incorporate fur into sex or I won’t be that interested in what we do. Understandably, my current girlfriend wants to be the recipient of my affections, but this cannot always be the case. I feel terrible guilt about making her feel so unwanted. It takes me back to when I tried and failed to get excited about my first girlfriend’s body. She said, “You’re lying here, with a naked girl in your bed, and you’re on top of a stuffed tiger.” That still really hurts to think about. But all I can do is make sure I meet the needs of the girl I am with as best as I can, even if she can’t meet mine. I suppose it begs the question of why I want a girlfriend as well as companions if I’m not aroused by women. Just like anyone else, I still crave emotional connection with another person. It’s a different bond to the one I have with my companions, and I value it just as highly. Of course, I also enjoy being in mental proximity to someone who is as insanely intelligent and loving as my girlfriend is.
One place where I have found full acceptance is within the plushophile community. We are a diverse group of people. Some folk are more attracted to humans than plush (biosexuals); some believe they have a spiritual or metaphysical connection with plush; and some are only attracted to stuffed animals on a physical level. These are just a few examples. The main thing is that we support each other and help each other through the issues we face on a daily basis—from marital spats arising from a spouse finding out late in a marriage, to getting mods done, to talking about plush we find particularly hot!
Having gotten to know these people and struggled through coming to terms with myself, I now feel the need to set the record straight: We are not paedophiles! We are not rapists! We don’t shag real animals! Nor are we sad, lonely guys who live with our parents, incapable of getting a girlfriend. I’m not afraid of the real world. I have a very intellectually demanding job that I had to study hard to get—I do the real world every day. We plushophiles are constantly being misrepresented by the press as mentally ill, disgusting perverts, or sad fat guys with no jobs. We are included on the DSM list of mental disorders, under the category paraphilias. But actually, we are just like you. We are men. We are women. We have jobs and friends, lovers and spouses. There are more of us than you think. What if you ever go to a friend’s house and they have a stuffed toy out on their bed? Well, you just never know!