Ah, the misunderstood Bonobo. For those not in the know, the Bonobo is one of the two species of chimpanzee; the other is the “common” Chimpanzee – surely a taxonomic slight if there ever was one. First discovered in 1928, the Bonobo has been the subject of various, contradictory determinations as regards their society and psychology. At first they were the Peaceful Bonobo; matriarchal, empathic, altruistic, kind, caring, and more likely to send a handmade Thank You Card in response to a shitty birthday present than any of the other great apes.
Then, researchers stared noticing things about Bonobos. As in, they screwed a lot. Furiously, even. With each other; with themselves (often); with stumps and gourds and warm muddy spots at the river’s edge. Oral. Anal. Armpit? Maybe – but I have yet to see a YouTube video of it. Did an earlier generation of prudish anthropologists, perhaps scarred by Margaret Mead’s counterexample in Samoa, fail to pick up on this, or was it the result of willful blindness? Either way, it turned out that the reason that the male Bonobo sat by the side of the dying grandma-Bonobo was not to ease her transition into the next world, but instead it was so he could be the first to pluck out an eye and skullfuck the warm corpse. The Bonoboite response to predators? Screaming group orgy. Homosexual proclivities were said to be “pronounced”, which is a funny adjective to use in that context, when you think about it.
But other researchers followed behind, and said, no, Bonobos are not the Paris Hiltons of the ape world; captivity introduced certain exaggerated behaviors. If the Bonobos fucked a lot, it was because they were behind bars. Everyone who has ever heard a “don’t pick up the soap” joke will nod their head in understanding here. Nothing like prison stripes to fire up the old libido!
The fight continued. Subsequent researchers, packing off to the Congo, perhaps to avoid the semen thrown from the cages, reported that the preternaturally active sex life was not confined to Bonobos in captivity – wild Bonobos did indeed throw 90210-style parties in the treetops south of the Congo River. The battle continued. What to make of it? Biases and prejudices and fact-shaping by hypersexed (or, maybe just as likely, undersexed) ape researchers? Feeding the public what they wanted to hear – a tribe of apes for whom “eating a banana” was the ultimate double-entendre?
To this day there are still fights among researchers about Bonobo sex. It must make for some interesting party talk in Georgetown or Cambridge or Raleigh.
My point, if I have one, is that authority is subjective, often contradictory, and unreliable. If you want to find the truth of the matter, use your own eyes and ears. Don’t necessarily believe something someone else tells you – not even someone you trust, like, and rely on. People can deceive; firstly themselves, but sometimes others. Rely on your own assessments, intuitions, and conclusions.
Despite having just said all that, I leave you with one piece of advice that I hope you follow: never turn your back on a male Bonobo.