The Bonobo Factor: Sexy Feminism

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Read the introduction to this series of posts here.

Bonobo Love Secret 02 - Feminism Can Be Very Sexy

“Sex At Dawn” co-author Christopher Ryan writes:

When females are in charge, everyone lives better (including the males). While male chimps run the show, among bonobos, it’s the females who are in charge, with much better quality of life for everyone involved (see #1 -- more sex = less conflict).

What does this mean for us?

Well, first off, it means we have things seriously backwards.

Today our world is almost completely patriarchal in nature. It wasn’t always this way. Human beings, after all, have been around for a very long time. A common number that archaeologists use for the existence of “modern humans” is about 200,000 years. By our current measurement of time, we call it 2013. Hmm... so that means we’ve been around for almost 1,000 times as long as the period from Christ’s existence to the present. Yes, we’ve been here a very long time.

In her book, “When God Was A Woman”, Merlin Stone looks beyond our 2000 years of Christianity to find lots of evidence of Goddess worship throughout pre-history. While some of her findings have been hotly debated, she shows that female divinity was recognized, worshipped and integrated into societal structures throughout pre-history.

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Ryan and Metha in “Sex At Dawn” cite work by early anthropologists, who described the lifestyles of newly discovered indigenous peoples and tribes as Europeans spread across the globe, which supports this. Many of these peoples, absent of any influence for multiple millennia, were discovered to be matriarchal in worship and social structure, fostering a peaceful, prosperous and egalitarian way of life guided by the wise intuition of the women.

In a recent conversation with a Deputy Chief of a First Nations tribe in British Columbia, Willow and I were moved to hear about their peaceful matriarchal ways that lasted until the government intervened in the middle of the last century.

Indeed, Heide Gottner-Abendroth, in her seminal work “Matriarchal Societies”, describes in detail many peaceful and prosperous matriarchal societies that still exist to present day. Ironically, they are almost completely ignored by social scientists exploring human social behavior. Her extensive work identifies the many benefits these societies enjoy with women in charge.

What is interesting is that ‘women in charge’ looks very different from ‘men in charge’. In other words, matriarchal social organization is not just patriarchy with women at the top instead of men. It takes on a completely new type of power structure that is based on collaboration, egalitarianism and prosperity for all.

While our current patriarchal societies have proven to disempower women, matriarchal societies not only empower women to utilize their nurturing wisdom, they also empower men. We hope to touch on many of the reasons why this is so in future posts.

What does this mean for us? The bonobos urge us to look more closely at matriarchal societies throughout history and begin to explore how matriarchal community living might help us shift stale male-centric social paradigms.

Read Part Four HERE

The Bonobo Factor: More Sex

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Read the introduction to this series of posts here.

Bonobo Secret To Love 01 - More Sex = Less Conflict

“Sex At Dawn” co-author Christopher Ryan writes:

As the great primatologist, Frans de Waal put it, “Chimps use violence to get sex, while bonobos use sex to avoid violence.” While chimps victimize each other in many ways—rape, murder, infanticide, warfare between groups—there’s never been a single observed case of any of these forms of aggression among bonobos, who are much sexier than chimps. As James Prescott demonstrated in a meta-analysis of all available anthropological data, the connection between less restrictive sexuality and less conflict generally holds true for human societies as well.

What does this mean for us?

From a personal standpoint, when I think of times that I have been angry, or prone to irrational emotion, I know intuitively that if a woman companion started to insistently touch and flirt with me, and perhaps erotically expose herself (all bonobo tendencies), to the extent that I could not resist engaging in sexual activity with her, my mood would completely change. My potentially conflict-causing emotions would rapidly dissipate.

This is consistent with scientific findings that show that the area of the male and female brain that generates “ego” shuts off during orgasm. This video by AsapScience, called “The Science of Orgasms” presents a good, quick summary of what happens with the mind and body during orgasm.

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I had a partner once, who insistently gave me three successive rounds of orgasmic oral sex, about 15 minutes apart. Each time she assured me she expected nothing in return. Just enjoy. I was surprised, at the time, by the profound effect it had on me. I have no trouble saying that she turned me into male ‘putty’. That is, aggression of any kind was the furthest thing from my mind. I was in a state of very agreeable, euphoric relaxation.

I have no doubt that female-inspired, loving sexual activity of all forms would rapidly diffuse male aggression within a group. Can we imagine a community where open sexual energy is lovingly employed by the wise female ‘community core’ for conflict resolution and bond nurturing? Obviously, we would have to get over our developed predilection for possessive monogamy and feelings of jealousy (more on this in later points), which is easier said than done based on our cultural conditioning, but, as Christopher Ryan alludes to in his closing comment, there have been interesting examples of successful, peaceful, abundant communities with an “open loving sex” dynamic similar to bonobos, past and present (more on this in future posts).

It is sad that we are conditioned to think that more sex equals more guilt and shame, and likely, therefore, more violence. The bonobos show us that exactly the opposite might be true and challenge us to shift our thinking and the way we live.

Read Part Three HERE