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What If Human Women Challenged Male Aggression Like Bonobos?

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

The end of male aggression lies with us, not men. We can learn from our matriarchal cousins.

CC0 2.0 photo by LaggedOnUser on Wikimedia Commons

Let's be perfectly clear on this point: Women decide when violence ends against women, not men.

The passive lessons of feminism past have gone as far as they can go. Enough with telling men to stop hurting women. They already know it's wrong. We have to force the ones who don't care.

Patriarchal dominance isn't the only model. We know this now.

Five to seven million years ago chimpanzees and humans diverged from a common ancestor. We both evolved a patriarchal model of male social dominance based on superior male strength.

One to two million years ago, bonobos (pronounced bo-NO-bos), diverged from chimpanzees and evolved a matriarchal social model, despite superior male strength. One theory suggests food competition after the Congo River separated a chimp troop. The ones north had to compete with larger gorillas for food, under which male aggression evolved as a survival tactic that they adapted to control females for sex and resources. The ones south enjoyed a more plentiful food supply, enabling the females to form relationships and female social groups.

The southern males who recognized that allying with females offered greater sexual and resource benefits mated more than their aggressive counterparts, and nice guys finished first.


Today, our little-studied very close cousins live the lives human feminists only dream of: A world in which females have sex whenever they want, with whom they want, without all the slut shaming, homophobia or male partner possessiveness. Bonobo females also have plenty of male 'partners' assistance, as collective paternity means no bonobo male can be quite sure which children are his.

A bonobo male who wants to ensure the perpetuation of his genes has to support all potential offspring. The village truly has to raise a child, when no one knows whose kids are whose.

But don't bonobo males exhibit, like all other primates, the typical patriarchal desire to isolate a female partner from copulating with other males, with violence if necessary?

Sometimes. But the ladies crush it like bugs.

Whatever Shiba did, he will surely think twice about pulling any shit with bonobo females again.

The key to bonobo female dominance

Evolutionary understanding of humans owes a great deal to the study of our more common cousins, chimpanzees. The chimp male dominance model clearly parallels our own human history and experience. But what about our more peaceful counterparts south of the Congo? What if they demonstrate what might have been, and what could be?

It's never too late to evolve. In fact, evolution can now be driven by conscious choice.

Female dominance in bonobo society isn't as brutal as male dominance elsewhere. Bonobos are famously quite peaceful, mostly. Aggression is primarily defensive, for reminding forgetful males they're not in charge.

Female power appears to be rooted in strong, broad female friendships, including those outside their groups. Female bonobos appear to share an understanding that 'We're all in this together.'

Another element that might grease the peace: Everyone gets laid!

Bonobos are, to cop a judgmental higher primate term, famously slutty. All of them. Bonobos will shag any time, any place. Males with males. Females with females. Males with females. Even the young get shagged by their elders but they don't seem to suffer from it. At least, they don't exhibit discomfort or submission in the videos I've watched so far.

(Let's set aside the adults/juveniles couplings for the time being. I'm not arguing we normalize NAMBLA.)

Bonobos, unlike many of our primate cousins, often copulate face to face like humans. They appear to exhibit wild orgasms. Sex is a bonding agent for bonobos. They often greet each other by rubbing genitals together. (Another practice I'm not advocating for humans!)

"Hi Mabel, how's it going?" "Great, Loretta, good to see you. How're the husbands and kids?" "Oh, they're fine. So much to do before Christmas..." CC0 2.0 image by Rob Bixby on Wikimedia Commons

There are no bonobo incels. Sex is about relationship building, not dominance, and every last one of them is having a lot more sex than you!

So what does this mean for us?

Bonobos demonstrate that the patriarchal dominance model doesn't have to be the blueprint anymore. We're not bonobos, but we're not chimps either, and they haven't evolved toward becoming a more dominant species like we have. (This may be changing. They've begun making spears for subduing prey.) Human dominance began with exploration into new lands beyond Africa, followed by the Agricultural Revolution 12,000 years ago, which is where many human ills either first arose or were boosted: Slavery, income inequality, power imbalance - and the subjugation of women.

There are three steps women can take to end male violence against women, although it won't happen overnight.

Recognize we have the power, and the obligation, to end it.

We'll need to widely convince victimhood-identified feminists that it's up to women to end male violence and that keeping the focus solely on the offenders no longer serves the movement. We've convinced all the persuadable men not to rape or abuse. Job well done! But we'll have to force the rest.

Change is always driven by the oppressed. South Africa didn't end apartheid because whites finally understood it was unfair. The American civil rights movement began with a tired, fed-up black woman on a bus, and second wave feminism emerged from women tired of being treated as coffee-fetchers and sex-providers in the black civil rights movement and the white New Left. Homosexual rights began with the Stonewall uprising.

Change begins when enough of the oppressed have had quite enough.

The second step:

Forge greater female friendships, far and wide.

This means moving beyond identity politics as well as welcoming women from 'the other side' of the tribe: Those with whom we disagree politically. And who may need some persuasion just to recognize they have the power to end the madness.

Identity politics divides rather than unites, which serves everyone's oppressors quite well.

The race divide between white women and women of color today prevents us from uniting together against weaponized penises of all colors.

We don't have to agree on Critical Race Theory or merit-based careerism to recognize what we do have in common: Vaginas, and weaker bodies, to which some men feel entitled and on which they'll force themselves if necessary.

The Christian Right accomplished bridge-building quite effectively in the '80s and '90s when Catholics and Protestants, who vehemently disagreed on numerous theological points, came together to work against a common goal: To end abortion rights.

Worked well, didn't it?

How can we forge alliances across political boundaries and persuade others to join us in this fight, if not necessarily in some other fight? Because every single woman has a dog in this fight.

And yes, we're talking about natal women now, not female-by-choice.

The third step:

A world in which women unite to shut down ad hoc male violence

I helped shut down male violence myself, a few years ago, by myself. It was scary, but I didn't get hurt or murdered for my efforts. My feminist come-to-Jesus moment arrived: How feminist was I, really, when my neighbor was clearly in danger from male violence?

What if women banded together when one woman was in danger from an aggressive male and forced him to back off?

"What if we got hurt?"

We might, but we might not. Bullies are, at their core, cowards. They won't take on a fight bigger than themselves and a bunch of weaker females can collectively take down a stronger male with the willpower and the culture to support it. [See: Shiba video, above]

We can't do it without a broad, cohesive coalition of women, and it won't happen overnight. Just convincing victim-centered feminists and domestic violence specialists that women have the power to end male violence may take a generation or more. The left itself is riven with victimhood thinking and victims aren't powerful. It's a Matriarchy of Silence in which women discourage others from taking charge of their lives and reclaiming their power.

I'd rather strive for a matriarchal model in which women collectively control male violence by introducing real-world consequences.

I don't advocate one unfair to men, but rather one that offers real value for men, too. My next article will address that and will outline how the only men who won't benefit from a matriarchal model are those heavily invested in toxic masculinity.

And if human women stop having sex with, and babies with, toxic masculine men, evolution will favour the 'nice guys's genes and our culture may come to resemble the bonobos' more than the apes.

Because here's the funny thing about bonobo matriarchy: It doesn't look nearly as oppressive for males as human and chimp patriarchy is for women.

We have the power, ladies. Are you ready yet to end male violence?

Discuss. Debate. Explain.

Did you like this post? Would you like to see more? I lean left of center, but not so far over my brains fall out. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter Grow Some Labia so you never miss a post!




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