OK, no more bonobos. I mean it. Why must everyone who is trying to prove some lefty hypothesis or other keep talking about bonobos? Bonobos, bonobos, bonobos. Suddenly celebrated after millennia of obscurity because of, what else, sex, bonobos are the new hippie chimps (which we needed once Jane Goodall’s coverup of P. troglodytes’ massacreein’ ways was finally exposed to an aghast chimp-lovin’ world). “Bonobos prove that patriarchy isn’t biologically predetermined!” is the cry. “They’re matriarchal! They’re homosexual! They settle disputes with sex!”
I’m all for proving some lefty hypothesis or other, and I’m all for bonobos, but let’s face it. They’re a whole nother species.
Establishing a precedent “in nature” to validate human sociopolitical ideology is goofy. I’m no bonobologist, but I’m going to go out on, and swing effortlessly from, a limb and posit that these apes, like all other non-human species, don’t even have ideology; they have instinct. Once you start applying human belief systems (all of which have, at their essence, some sort of philosophical narrative for mitigating the constant torment of knowing we’re gonna die, which torment no other critters appear to suffer) to instinctive non-human behavior, you’re just making shit up. It’s like when people think their dogs “love” them. You know what? That dog isn’t “smiling” at you. She just wants a Snausage.
I’m no humanologist, but I’m not entirely convinced that the bonobo’s acclaimed penchant for non-reproductive sex is anything humans should aspire to. Sex as a method of communication strikes me as highly inefficient, not to mention just the sort of thing that would constantly see the individual mired in some inconvenient gender role. Can you imagine having to pat a guy’s scrotum every time you accidentally bumped into him in the concession line at the roller derby? Bonobo females also trade sex for food. I don’t need to tell you what that reminds me of.
But I digress.
Once you start traipsing down that road, by which I mean the road toward using primate cultures to prove that certain handpicked human behaviors are “natural,” it soon becomes unpleasantly evident that the sexy peacenik bonobo is a fluke, and that practically every other vertebrate society you care to look at is an argument for the inevitability of the violent dominance/submission model. Which makes the whole enterprise bogus. I don’t know about you, but the only reason I get out of bed in the morning, besides the opportunity to eat a big fat omelette, is the tattered shred of hope that humans might be able to do something with our giant brains that transcends the primitive call of the wild.
Clinging to that tattered shred of hope what is commonly known as “insanity.”
Because you know what else? Bonobos, are, I’m given to understand, about to be extinct. Impending extinction would appear to make the argument for human emulation of the kinder, gentler primate a weak one, since their approach to social order, however adorable or seemingly Utopian, has contributed little to the viability of the species. Their vulva-rubbing ways are no match for the juggernaut of licentious greed-cum-anihilation that is the social order of H. sapiens. Patriarchy is killing the bonobos, just like it’s killing everything else that’s worth a damn.