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What if we could be more like bonobos, instead of chimpanzees?

Often, very often, chimpanzees are chosen as a model of human sexuality. They are studied by anthropologists because they are the most genetically similar living relative to humans.

Except that bonobos are equally similar and behave completely differently.

Bonobos are one of the least studied primate groups, period. An it makes little to no sense to me, because I’d rather live in a more bonobo like society than a chimpanzee like society.

If I had to guess, I’d suspect this discrepancy is due to the fact that the majority of working scientists today are still men. And chimpanzees are a patriarchal society, whereas bonobos are a matriarchal society.

Today in the world, matriarchal societies are always nicer places to live compared to patriarchal societies. In our historical record, patriarchies have consistently been oppressive and needlessly competitive: feudal societies of east Asia, the capitalism of the United States and slave trading.

Contrast these cultures with those of the matriarchy of the Utopian Union, err, European Union. Nordic countries lead the world in progressive politics: they have the highest test scores around the world, with the least amount of homework and in school hours. They work 36 hour work weeks. They lead the world in autonomous private web searches, servers and IT. They have universal public health insurance for their citizens. They lead the world in renewable energy and environmental stewardship — they don’t dump their trash into their waterways. It all just... makes sense.

Food for thought. Could it possibly be that we have the potential to be both like bonobos and chimpanzees depending on whether we are a patriarchy or a matriarchy? I think the answer is yes. We need to spend more time studying our very close relatives, the bonobos.

What if we could be more like bonobos, instead of chimpanzees?
What if we could be more like bonobos, instead of chimpanzees?
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Most Helpful Guys

  • Matriarchal does not mean peaceful, that's absurd (some of the worse tyrants have been women). Also blaming men/patriarchy what have you is not only sexist, its also evidence that your wrong.

    See males are wired to protect women and see them as vulnerable. its how we have survived as a species (as women are more vital to the reproductive process then men are) so you making the claims that you have doesn't suggest a "patriarchal" society, it suggests that men are still so wired to view women as needing protecting that they place them ABOVE men, not beneath them.

    As for the claim of oppressive societes, we have never lived in a more peaceful and free and wealthy time then now. Literally no better time to be alive, that's thanks to western thought and capitalism (the poorest westerner lives better then kings did 200 years ago). Hunter gatherer tribes had an upwards of 90% probability of death by violence, currently, at least in the US your chances of being killed through violence is.005%. So that is entirely inaccurate on multiple levels.

    If you look at Nordic nations, they are actually on the verge of collapse, with the highest wealth disparities and lowest growth rates both of population and of wealth in Europe. Also many female politicians are corrupt (most don't get punished for it because again, we have a biological bias to look favorably on women) as can be seen in south America where multiple female presidents and politicans where arrested for corruption. So at best, they are no better then men.

    Now lets say we where like Bonobos, what would happen? Civilization collapse. Bonobos are promiscuous maters, that means no family units. Males will not put resources into offspring that is not theirs. So female bonobos do all the raising of the young. For humans this would result in sever disfunction of the child (as children of single mothers and divorce have a higher rate of criminality, substance abuse, depression, academic failure, poverty, and promiscuity (thus perpetuating the problem)).

    This would also be an issue because men are the ones who invent, build, defend and maintain the infrastructure of society. Without families that depend on them those men are less likely to be engaged with the society which means that none of these tasks will get done, again, if they have no vested interest in the future (no one depends on them) then they have no reason to over produce which is what society relies entirely on (80% of domestic spending is done by women despite them only producing about 30% of all generated income. Women are also more costly to the society as men pay into the society the equivalent of 200x more in taxes then women do over their life time).

    So society would absolutely collapse and we wouldn't be talking right now because we would not have the internet or electricity or a society as we think of it. Also bonobos live in one location, where they are effectively cut off from most other animals i. e. they are protected by natural barriers (large rivers keep out most predators from the region they inhabit) so they are dependent on those natural barriers in order to survive as they do not have the societal structure or the more masculine attributes of their male chimpanzee counter parts to deter predators if any manage to get into their habitats thus making them incredibly vulnerable. So we would also have that issue i. e. being wiped out by predators and hostile groups.

    • I am not implying matriarchal society is peaceful— only different.

      Two differences that seem good: less competitive, basic needs met, more open about sexuality.

    • Three*

    • But you are, "matriarchal societies are always nicer places to live compared to patriarchal societies. In our historical record, patriarchies have consistently been oppressive and needlessly competitive", the implication being that matriarchal societies are better then non matriarchal societies (and also objectively wrong by every metric we could apply). Competition is the only reason why humans are the dominant species, why would we get rid of it? Competition pushes us to be better then we where before, each generation becoming better, stronger wiser more knowledgable. This is why we develop so much, that's why capitalism has created the most advancement of any system, because it is predicated on competition, either you innovate and become better and provide more, or your business crumbles. So this pushes people forward. Competition comes from women when it comes to mating, men need to over produce to provide for women, again, the only reason why you won't see that in bonobo's is because their is no family unit, their is no society really, the males are not really involved except for the act of mating itself. As for basic needs met, again, matriarchal societies have never managed to get peoples needs met. Capitalism has though. I mean, again, I am poor by our western "patriarchal" capitalist standards. I also eat better then any other people that don't exist within that system, have more freedoms, I have technology that isn't available to many others etc. So I am worse off only when looking within the system itself, once you see the alternatives you realize very quickly I am in the upper half of the world who is living really well. As for sexuality, so what? As I said sure they are more promiscuous, this leads to no fathers being involved in the rearing of children, fewer resources, no protectors in case a threat arrives etc. In all metrics they are worse off because of it. Further more casual sex is meaningless as it does not produce positive results.

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  • englisc

    Different human societies have been either matriarchal or patriarchal. We can indeed live in similar societies to either one. Much of what you're saying about each is true. What you're missing however is which tends to be more successful, and why.

    How many successful, big, matriarchal societies do you know of? None. The only modern day matriarchal societies you can name today are small tribal groups that only feminist fanatics could point you to, such as the Garo tribe, the Bribri, the Akan. Those societies are never as successful as patriarchal societies, always tiny and insignificant.

    It's very simple - patriarchal societies are war-like. Sexual selection in war-like species produces males who are war-like. Matriarchal societies are not war-like. Sexual selection there creates more passive, non-war-like males.

    The only reason bonobos are able to exist the way they do is because they don't live near Chimpanzees. If they did, Chimpanzees would wipe them out in just the same way they do when they go to war with rival Chimpanzee groups. The same goes for patriarchal vs matriarchal human socieites.

    Those small matriarchal tribes only exist because they're small, insignificant, and therefore are tolerated. Any bigger societies were wiped out. In nature, capability of violence matters, survival of the fittest.

    You also mention modern countries, Nordic countries in particular. Our cultures with the rise of feminism have become less patriarchal and more egalitarian/matriarchal. Again you're missing something here - since they have low birthrates (which often tends to happen in matriarchal cultures, patriarchal cultures always have higher birthrates) they encourage mass immigration from third world countries - mostly patriarchal cultures such as Islam. Sweden is now known as the rape capital of Europe. Why? Well the Swedish men have become completely emasculated, so they can't protect anything - un-warlike. The men committing those rapes are from harsher places where violence is the norm - warlike.

    Not only that, with their higher birthrates vs low birthrates of Europeans, the Europeans are set to become a minority in a few decades, and their culture will be replaced if so. In all European countries this is happening, slower in some places, faster in other places, where the host population is being replaced by other cultures. This has happened throughout history time and time again. Look at the work of JD Unwin, he studied thousands of historical societes and tribes, it's always matriarchal societies being replaced by patriarchal socieites.

    It seems that you're coming at this from a feminist perspective, based on the way you wish the world should work, the way humans should be. But that's not how the world works and it's un-changable.


Most Helpful Girl

  • Anonymous

    Not all the matriarchal societies were peaceful, remember the Amazons?
    Almost every society in the world, in all the continents, have ancient legends about female warriors.

    Valkyries, and Shield Maidens - In Scandinavia;
    Volscian Warrior Maidens and Virago - In ancient Rome;
    Onna-bugeisha (female Samurai), and Kunoichi (female Ninjas) - In Japan;
    The Polenitsa (aka Polianitsa or Poljanitsa) - In Russia and some other Slavic countries.

    In every myth, there's a grain of truth... we all know that there were female warriors in most countries in the world, let's just mention several of the most famous warrior women:
    Joan of Arc (France, female knight),
    Saint Olga (Russia),
    Emilia Plater (Lithuania),
    Yim Wing-Chun (China, female Kung Fu master),
    Lozen (female Apache warrior),
    Boudica (queen of the Brythonic Celts),
    The Trung sisters (Vietnam), Tomoe Gozen (Japan),
    Khutulun Mongol princess and wrestler, also a great-great granddaughter of Genghis Khan);
    Calamity Jane (American old west);
    Anne Bonny (female pirate).

    And many others.

    • Good points.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks :)

    • "remember the Amazons"

      I don't believe the Amazons were actually real. It was a Greek interpretation of the Scythians, which were a more egalitarian society in terms of gender roles relative to the Greeks who were quite restrictive. Same thing happened with the Chinese interpretation of the society for Taiwanese aboriginals.

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • -Asca-

    The EU is a matriarchy? Oh yeah right. The EU Parliament consists of 63% men and 37% women. President of the council Donald Tusk is male, President of the parliament Antonio Tajani is male, President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker is male.

  • cth96190

    The Bonobo society exists only because it is isolated, without predators or competition and has abundant natural food.
    As a sub-species, the Bonobo is unfit to survive.
    So, no, I would not want to be part of a society that adopted an unworkable model that was contrary to the order of nature.
    Sort of like all versions of Marxism. . .

  • Bananaman177

    The problem is that when humans form small communities founded around this, the broads start wearing dreadlocks and that shit stinks like fuck after a couple days (besides looking retarded immediately) and they never wash it because it's too much of a huge pain in the ass to undo it and redo it, so they just leave it and then they start slapping mud and muck all over themselves, and flies are buzzing around them, and it just goes nowhere you want to be, fast.

  • EleganceOfBanana

    If we would be like bonobos, we would have get sex for work instead of money and most of the (male) people would work more hours :D

  • ForbesMagazine

    You want humans to have orgies with strangers? What?

    That's retarded. You cannot change humans intrinsic behavior without some form of eugenics.

    • That is the logical extreme of applying socialism and radical left wing thought to the sexual marketplace.

      Healthcare for all, healthy food for all, and... sex for all.

      It sounds like a joke, but it’s a real problem within progressive left wing thinking. Current politicians don’t realize it yet, but eventually they’ll need to philosophically come to terms with this conclusion as an extension of the same line of reasoning.

    • Some humans already have orgies with strangers 🤣🤣🤣

  • It's possible that some humans act like bonobos and some act like chimps. Every human has their own personality. Just like I'm sure some chimps have their own personality and can act like bonobos.

  • Female feudal queens have waged more war than their male counterparts.

  • taleswapper

    Ceertainly, there's a great deal to be learned from observing the bonobos about the breadth of primate behavior. but in the end, the competitive model is dominant because it's more SUCCESSFUL in the absence of abundant resources. Human social behavior is ALSO less competitive when food/shelter is commonly available. but when one of those societies meets a more dominant, male-centric aggressive one, it disappears, or changes to match the newcomers. the male-dominant (and expendable) aggressive model is more pro-survival than the female dominant, less aggressive model. Introduce a pack of chimpanzees into the natural habitat of the bonobos, and the latter die out.

  • BigBoobyBiatch

    Dicks out for Harambe

  • Dargil

    Bonobos practice cunnilingus out of affection. I'll give them that.

  • Scarecrow13

    So have sex with and eat our own young?

  • Lizardman64

    What about gorillas?

  • Anonymous

    Several people have probably already told you, but bonobos are *rediculously* horny. To say that bonobos have sex in situations where humans just shake hands wouldn't even be hyperbole. There's so much sex that nearly *everyone* is bi by sheer fact that *not* being bi would impair one's ability to form social bonds. a given male has no way of knowing which of the various children in the tribe are his.

    the worst part is that any bonobo is willing to have sex with *any other* bonobo, regardless of age and familial relation, with the occasional exception of a mother and her adult son. the average male bonobo doesn't even have qualms with having sex with a *NEWBORN FUCKING BABY*!

  • Anonymous

    This is clearly a racist post against our black brothers and sisters and I am triggered beyond belief!

    • ? No, this has to do with our relatives in the animal kingdom. Has nothing to do with black people.