Well I am out on a limb now, aren’t I? In my last blog entry I made the bold assertion that sex holds a solution to global climate change. And I promised to tell you more about a little known animal called the bonobo. There is a connection between these two concepts. Let me explain.
First a few details about the bonobo. Bonobos look a lot like chimpanzees but they are in fact very different animals. While chimpanzees are prone to extreme violence, bonobos are remarkably peaceful. Although a dominant male always leads a chimpanzee troop, bonobo society is organized around a group of lesbian grandmothers.
Well the older females are actually bisexual as they copulate with both males and females. But the sexual bond between the older females creates a sisterhood to be reckoned with. If one of the bigger, stronger males decides to bully a female, her bonobo sisters come to the rescue and put the errant male in his place.
Although chimpanzee power struggles can result in murder or wars that drag on for years, bonobo conflicts are quickly dispatched without serious injury or death. And while the powerful bonds between bonobo females give them an advantage their chimpanzee sisters lack, both male and female bonobos have found a pleasurable way to manage their anger and stress.
They use sex.
If there is a hint of conflict in the air, a bonobo will probably solve it with an offer of sex. And that keeps everyone happy and relatively peaceful. Instead of killing babies who are not their genetic progeny – a nasty habit dominant male chimps resort to – bonobos engage in so much promiscuous sex they don’t care who fathered the baby. Every bonobo baby is every bonobo’s baby.
And then there is the issue of sexual consent. Chimpanzees routinely use domestic violence to force a female to submit to unwanted sexual intercourse. It seems that access to female bodies for sex and procreation drives political intrigue and murder for both chimpanzee and human cultures.
Meanwhile in bonobo land, everyone is far too busy having orgasms to waste time hurting each other. So while bonobos still gossip and compete for attention, they will solve major disputes by making love instead of war, hence the nickname “the hippie chimp.”
We humans are so shame based around sex that we rarely hear about bonobos and many scientists dismiss the bonobo as an odd, deviant species.
Could this be due to our discomfort with gay sex and female power? If it were not for those two taboos, might we be more curious about the peaceful ways of the bonobo?
The bonobo is the only great ape that has achieved a more peaceful, egalitarian social structure than humans. And although we may not feel drawn to copy (ape?) all their solutions, it seems prudent to at least consider their strategies with an eye toward which, if any, might serve us.
One strategy that seems to grow out of sexual sharing, is the sharing of food. Bonobos don’t always share resources with neighboring bonobo troops, but often they do. In fact, they are more likely to share sex and food with their neighbors than not. And that is a far cry from the competition model we humans take as a “natural” feature of life on this planet.
If corporate greed continues to rule the day, we are not likely to see much progress on environmental fronts. Might at least some of our current environmental problems be helped if we could in some instances replace greed with sharing?
What if our human culture – our world culture – was based upon a sexual perspective firmly rooted in respect for female sexuality and female power? Might we be more inclined to organize our societies with resource sharing as the primary goal? Might we be better able to collaborate on sensible solutions for our mutual benefit?
Could a less shame based and more egalitarian approach to sex really usher in a more peaceful and environmentally sustainable world?
It is hard to say because we have never attempted it on a global scale. But there are examples of human matri-focal societies that also have a more environmentally friendly footprint. I can’t wait to give you specific examples in my next blog so stay tuned!
Veronica Monet, ACS, CAM is a Certified Sexologist and Relationship Coach who teaches The Five Steps to Exquisite Partnership. If you want help healing your relationships, please email her at Veronica@TheShameFreeZone.com