[personal profile] emilyshadowwalker posting in [community profile] animal_quills
(I hope this is okay as a first post. It'd probably would have been more polite to do an introduction post first, but the guidelines weren't exactly clear about whether that was a requirement or not. If you require a certain clearance or acknowledgement before posting, I'd be more than happy to take this down/have it taken down)

Some therians subconsciously view people as prey. There’s a sense of superiority, an underlying knowledge that everybody around you is a step down on the food chain. They don’t acknowledge it, but it’s there all the same. In the wild, an ordinary lion is going to eat an average human. In a shopping centre surround by slightly overweight, lumbering, distracted people, a hungry lion would be having a field day. At the least, there’s an understanding that ‘I have teeth and claws and am bigger and stronger than you,’ which leaves a lot to be desired when there’s any possibility of a physical altercation.

You’d probably assume that on the other hand, there are therians that are instinctively afraid of humans. Maybe a wary, easily startled deer, or a rabbit, caught in the headlights. Maybe these therians flinch at sudden movements and sounds, or freeze and then skitter away when someone elbows into them in a crowded space.

As someone who identifies as a wolf, I fall into the latter category, perhaps surprisingly considering others I have spoken to. I have maintained, and will always maintain, that wolves; natural, wild wolves, are shit scared of people. A wolf isn’t going to attack a person. It’s going to run away at the very sound of someone approaching. And that’s the truth for me as well. I’m acclimatised to people. If someone walks into me, I can deal with it and internalise it, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a part of me that treats everyone as suspicious. I never really understood that, when you’re in a room and a stranger walks in why, do people automatically assume they’re okay?

Realistically, unless they’re wielding a sawn off shotgun, strangers in the same space as you are not out to get you. This isn’t paranoia, and your chances of getting murdered are statistically pretty low. However, that doesn’t necessarily make other people safe. They’re unpredictable and a little crazy, and the problem with being as I am is that I am all too painfully aware that my teeth are not well suited to biting, and I am not stronger than most people, and I am not even faster than people. If somebody limps, my eyes are drawn to them. If they are ill or weak or slow, there’s a certain manner of singling them out from the group. Yet even then there’s a knowledge that they are not easy prey. They are not to be underestimated.

The instinctive reaction for some people appears to be aggression, and that’s not how I experience it. When cornered, probably, when defensive or protective, likely. But put me toe to toe with some guy outside of a tournament and I’m going to run the heck away as fast as I can.

Last year, I was bitten by a large, white, German Shepherd type dog whilst delivering papers. My reaction was not to growl, or to attack, or even to run away. I stood there. I looked at my arm. Saw the puncture wound. And then I calmly instructed my friend to ring my dad so he could take me to the hospital, as my arm was shaking too much to hold the phone properly. I distinctly remember apologising profusely to the woman who owned the dog and telling her that I was perfectly fine, because English politeness dictates that I should comfort the slightly hysterical woman regardless.

My instinctive reaction to fear is not then, to act aggressively. It’s to freeze. The image is easy to recall, the dog is running towards me, and the last thought I can remember is ‘Oh, shit’ before I put my arm up to my chest/face area to protect it. I didn’t move from the spot. And when people scare me, get too close, behave in a way that makes me uncomfortable, that’s also my reaction. I stop internally, I stifle any feelings deep inside, and I carry on.

People are not something I see as prey. I see a herd of horses or deer, and there’s that instinctive reaction, the rush of knowledge and longing. A group of people do not bring about the same effect. A group of people make me want to be invisible, quiet and small and unnoticed. I want to be able to pass by quietly, so I do.

This isn’t to say that I am shy, or do not interact with people. I have brilliant, wonderful friends, a girlfriend, and I’m more than happy to be the person who goes and asks a stranger where the closest bathroom is, or order food from a waitress. I can walk head held high down the street all I like, and make cocky arguments in debate with total strangers, but I still have an instinctive reaction of suspicion and negativity towards people’s intentions which as a rational, thinking human, I like to optimistically believe is not true. 

People are a lot like wolves, in the end. A lot of what I feel, everybody feels, even if I base it in something rather more eccentric. I believe that if you pitted a human and a wolf against each other in a room, chances are the wolf would come out on top. But probably not before it tried to run away first.


Date: 2013-05-19 11:39 pm (UTC)
go_dog_go: Stylized drawing of a person with closed eyes. Their brain and breath are visible. (wolf: stronger)
From: [personal profile] go_dog_go
I suppose I can relate, though not very precisely. I'm a wolf, I have social anxiety, and I never supposed those two things might be considered related. (I will further admit that I have actually had the experience of seeing an individual or small group of people some distance off and having the impassive but kneejerk urge to chase-knock down-hurt. For me this is rare, and most often happens when I'm overheated, dehydrated, sleep deprived, or otherwise physically strained. I question what, if anything, it has to do with my wolf identity, or to what extent it includes subconscious assumptions of superiority. It's also not something I'm proud of or admit to very often.)

Your reasoning makes sense, although to your assessment of actual wolf behavior I'd like to add that while most of the time non-captive wolves will run from humans, on the occasions when they don't, their reaction tends more toward curiosity than anything else. (Of course this is pretty much a function of prior experience and individual temperament.) Thoughts?

Date: 2013-05-20 05:22 pm (UTC)
yourdeer: (winter run)
From: [personal profile] yourdeer
Interesting read!
I tend not to have animal-type instincts towards humans - meaning, I don't often see humans as totally "other" than me. I'm somewhat shy, but I can, like you said as well, ask for directions or make a phone call without too much anxiousness.
However, it's the tired/hungry/stressed times (as go_dog_go said as well) where I dip into feeling about people as my theriotypes might. I am deer and horse, so those reactions also have a sense of wariness, avoidance, or flight - in crowds, it manifests as a barely-controlled panic and desire to get out, anyone in my way be damned.
It is interesting and refreshing to hear a wolf-person also talk about wariness or flight, because I think you have a point - it seems less common that a wild animal will, unprovoked, aggressively confront a human, even if that animal is predatory. The only wild animals that I personally have seen be very bold around people are ones that coexist closely with us - pigeons, seagulls, turkeys, coyotes, sparrows, and the like. Interestingly also, the couple of coyote therians I know are also the biggest extroverts out of the therians I've met.

Date: 2013-05-28 03:33 pm (UTC)
elinox: (NightSong)
From: [personal profile] elinox
Agreed! I have read all too often about therians with predator theriotypes who act aggressively and blame it on their theriotypes and the truth of the matter is that most wild animals (unless they're unhealthy) will run at the first sight/scent of humans. Curiosity may be the second response, but flight is always the first.

As a wolf myself I can empathize with much of what you say here: being wary of strangers when there's no cause to be, seeing certain humans as easier prey (seems to always happen when I'm starving!), wanting to run from humans, etc. Thankfully though I've never been in a situation where I was in danger and then froze so I'm not sure how I would react; I would assume that would depend on the specific situation (fight if cornered/in pain, freeze if caught by surprise, etc.).

Thanks for sharing this!

Date: 2013-05-20 07:36 pm (UTC)
feralkiss: Raven painting. (r_paint)
From: [personal profile] feralkiss
I do not have much to add that wasn't already said in the above comments; mostly I just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts/feeling on the subject.

Introductions are not mandatory, but they are appreciated and help getting a better idea of who's behind the writings, so feel free to post one if you want to. :)

Date: 2013-05-25 04:20 am (UTC)
felkes: (Default)
From: [personal profile] felkes
This was a really interesting read, and I can really relate with what you were saying, and I'm going to hazard a guess in saying that you're optomistic assumption about humans not being initially suspicious of strangers is not far off the mark.
The reason for this being, I have social anxiety disorder to a crazy extent, I recently went in for psychological testing, and on the test results this anxiety was very evident. While talking with the psychologist who was giving me the test, and going over the results with me, he kept saying, and subtly trying to make me thing that my anxiety, was rooted in what people think of me. This makes me believe that the majority of human discomfort when around other people is stemmed more from "what are they thinking about me" rather than "I simply don't trust these people".

Now I'm a polywere, while I'm mostly snow leopard I also have a canis lupus type and (aside from the domestic dogs) each of my animal instincts is to be wary and suspicious of people. Naturally small children, and the crippled elderly draw my attention as prey (especially children) because that's how nature works. Predators target the easier prey, but like you I'm all too aware that I have no claws, and my teeth aren't meant for hunting. For me, this almost increases the fear even more, because I have literally no way of defending myself from the people I see as a potential threat, which is pretty much everyone. Like you I have my good close friends, a husband, and I'm not shy about interacting with service people when I need to, but the average stranger on the street, I feel exactly the way you described.

Just everything about this piece I can relate with so much. I'm so glad you wrote it, honestly after my shrink got done with me, I was very self conscious about my fear of humans, and worried that the way I thought about it was bad or broken or something. ^^;
(Oh my, this was long and rambly. I'm sorry. It's just I so much enjoyed and related to your post that I couldn't stop myself from talking and talking and talking it seems. ^^; )
Edited Date: 2013-05-25 04:21 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-29 01:28 am (UTC)
yourdeer: (winter run)
From: [personal profile] yourdeer
I'm not sure if you've seen the call for therian writings on this group or elsewhere (http://animal-quills.dreamwidth.org/52307.html), but if you'd be comfortable with it I'd urge you to submit this essay. It's well-written, thoughtful, and personal, and I think it would be a welcome addition to the project we're trying to put together.
I hope this isn't too forward, and please let me know what you think.


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