Spring has sprung. The grass has riz. Do you know where the party is? Bonoboville!
Having declared 2015 the first “Year of the Bonobo” in the heady, hung-over days of early January, it’s time to spring forward into the quintessential season to go bonobos. Spring! The word itself leaps for joy, strips off sweaters and dives headlong into a spring fling, releasing that “inner bonobo” that’s been hibernating all winter long. Spring is mating time, dating time, time to catch bonobo spring fever, flirt and fly with the birds and bees through the flowers and trees, all buzzing, tweeting (yes, before Twitter, birds did the tweeting), blooming and dripping with lustful, ecosexual fecundity and revolutionary possibilities.
Spring is also a good time to clean house, mind, body and spirit. Like winter, the old great ape paradigm is out of season. It’s time for the Bonobo Spring Cleaning.
For decades, evolutionary psychologists, Hollywood filmmakers and war lobbyists have put forth the “killer ape” paradigm of murderous, male-dominant common chimpanzees and baboons to “explain,” dramatize, support and finance horrific violence among humans, suggesting that we innately love to rape, pillage, bomb and behead each other, and doubtlessly always will. Or will we? The bonobo is just as close to human as the common chimp, the “last ape” to be discovered, offering up a remarkably different great ape paradigm that makes you wonder: What do these great apes know about sex, war and the rest of life that we don’t?
Here are some things we know about bonobos: They have a lot of sex. They never kill each other. They empower the females. They stay youthful longer. They live in what I call “peace through pleasure.” Over 98% genetically similar to humans yet different in key aspects, bonobos may not know how to build houses, churches or Pentagons like we do. But they do know how to use sex to prevent murder and war. How do they do that and can we do it too—in our own way? Bonobo studies are just starting to glean a few answers to that question, as they pull back the curtain to the life-changing, long-hidden “secrets of the bonobos,” activating a sea change in human awareness…
The Bonobo Spring
Can you feel it? Wake up and smell the sex! With many esteemed humans in varied fields, from Ecosexuality Movement leader Dr. SerenaGaia Anderlini-D’Onofrio to DDI Publisher Soma Snakeoil, joining in declaring this the Year of the Bonobo, while sharing The Bonobo Way and a wealth of new information about our remarkable kissing cousins, the change is underway and could reach orgasmic critical mass…
First, there’s just the name “bonobo.” Up until a few years ago, hardly anyone knew a bonobo from a banana, but now the word is flowing through the rivers of human discourse, even if it’s mispronounced and only subtly connected to actual bonobos. There’s “Bonobo” the hypnotic electronic musical artist, “Bonobos” the cool metrosexy pants (CEO Andy Dunn says, “Our motto is to evolve mankind starting with pants”), a Bonobo Winery in Michigan, a Bonobo Hotel in Belgium, Bonobo computers, Bonobo Mountain Films and various Bonobo Cafés from New York to Mumbai. There’s also a wonderful new movie, The Bonobo Connection, which is about actual bonobos, delving into their deep “connection” to us, as well as several other documentaries and an interesting indie fictional film called Bonobo about a collective of British people who try to live their version of the Bonobo Way on a “hippie sex commune.” There’s even a campaign for Spellcheck to recognize “bonobo” as a word, a note from former President Bill Clinton praising The Bonobo Handshake and a clip of current POTUS Barack Obama mispronouncing the word “bonobo” (bo-NO-bo)… at least he tried!
But the most compelling case for the Bonobo Spring is made by the bonobos themselves. More illuminating studies, breathtaking photos, engaging video and impressive strides in bonobo conservation are getting these ultra-empathetic apes out beyond the nature channels and into people’s hearts. Thus bonobo conservation is getting some sorely needed support, though much more is still required. Groups vital to bonobo species survival such as Lola ya Bonobo, Friends of Bonobos and the Bonobo Conservation Initiative are working wonders on shoestring budgets to save and protect bonobos in forests and sanctuaries within their native habitat of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Meanwhile the ecosex movement is embracing bonobos and the Bonobo Way, expanding with Dr. SerenaGaia’s much-anticipated Ecosexuality collection coming out later this Bonobo Spring. And of course, there’s Bonoboville, our new social media site for lovers and friends of bonobos, being reborn in spring.
Meanwhile, many couples, individuals and whole communities are going bonobos without even knowing what a bonobo is. At least they’re not openly referring to bonobos, though they might confess to reading Sex at Dawn. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith are just one of dozens of celebrity couples openly discussing their open relationship, in which “loving someone (does not) mean owning them.” Russell Brand isn’t the only ladies’ man “worshipping” the very bonoboësque “divine female sexual energy” he finds between the thighs of his favorite beauties. Beyoncé and Jay-Z mix marital love with communal ecstasy, singing all the way to the bank as puritanical baboon Mike Huckabee tries to slut-shame them as “pimp” and “sex object.” Miley Cyrus’ #FreeTheNipple campaign is going bonobos across the Internet as the always bonoboësque Madonna shows the world how to “spring” back from a bad fall, Tilda Swinton unabashedly enjoys a ménage à trois and Stephen Hawking openly appreciates the physics of strippers. Around the world, women’s erotica is exploding, as are the Sex-Positive movement(s) and Kinky Salons. A very bonoboësque kind of girl-power is on the rise with zero tolerance for rape or abuse, as the American Presbyterian Church unlocks its sacred doors to same-sex marriage. These are just a few examples of a trend toward greater openness and less shame regarding women’s pleasure, men’s dilemmas and LGBT rights, as well as expressing erotic fantasies and sexual fetishes.
Bonobo Spring is in the air. You can feel it buzzing like a bee (or a vibrator) in the growing—if sometimes grudging—recognition of so-called “feminine,” bonoboësque qualities of empathy, play, reciprocity and compassion as being critical to successful problem-solving. Many socialist policies are being rehabilitated, and some even see the value of making sperm wars, not real wars. As religious abuses are exposed, fewer in the West have faith in jealous gods in the sky. More are looking to the Earth, recognizing the terrible reality of global warming and other ecological disasters, and some are trying to take responsibility for slowing it down. Green is the new black. Ecology is sexy. Drs. Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens call it “Sexecology,” the spirit of the Bonobo Spring…
But then there’s ISIS. Oh no! What about ISIS?
Send Bonobos to the Middle East to Fight ISIS
Get a spring in your step, you sexy sex revolutionary! ISIS IS US.
ISIS or IS is an insidious outgrowth of U.S. and Israeli military policies, an extension of that old “killer ape” paradigm underpinning the international Military Industrial Complex (MIC) that feeds on human conflict like a zombie feeding on fresh brains. One bombs, the other beheads. Either way, the MIC profits, and it’s all very un-bonobo, not to mention could one day blow us all to hell.
So here’s the plan: Send bonobos to the Middle East to fight the Islamic State. Not literally! Real bonobos are highly endangered and far too precious. I do dream of sending them The Bonobo Way. Drop Books (with parachutes, so they don’t hit anybody), Not Bombs! All that bombing doesn’t stop the beheading anyway; quite the contrary. As the Reverend Paul Rauschenbusch writes, “You can’t bomb an ideology. You have to combat it with a better ideology.”
Is the Bonobo Way of peace through pleasure “a better ideology”? Who are ISIS’ ripest new recruits? Horny young people so disillusioned with their limited options that they turn to violence to channel their blossoming sex drives. By the way, similar enticements are utilized by any “volunteer” military, including our own.
The Bonobo Way entices them to channel their sex drives into sex (the consensual kind) and compassion for so-called enemies. Let’s wrap it up in crotchless panties and stockings since ISIS militants are reputed to be into lingerie. Let’s “Drop Bras Not Bombs.” Soon we’ll have them using those big scary knives to slice the snaps off of bustiers, instead of chopping the heads off of journalists.
If you think giving ISIS a little bonoboësque love and lingerie is crazy, just consider New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s recent “rhetorical” idea: “Shouldn’t we be arming ISIS?” This after years of cheerleading for George W. Bush’s doomed Iraq invasion and the lavish arming of Shiites whose exclusionary, anti-Sunni policies are one of the keys to ISIS’ appeal. How about if we just stop “arming” everybody?
ISIS is just the most mediagenic evil of the moment. From the Middle East to Middle America, we need a Bonobo Spring. A wave of cell phone videos show Middle American cities and towns to be riddled with trigger-happy cops suffering from racially-profiled paranoia. They need anger management, bonobo-style, with retraining to reverse racial profiling and activate empathy synapses. They need to learn to release their inner bonobo (it feels good!) and practice peace through pleasure as they “protect and serve.” A definite side benefit is that as they share the Bonobo Way with their wives and lovers, they will get laid more.
Of course, the best laid “plans” may not get you laid the way you planned. A lovely spring can turn into a bad fall. That’s where “swinging” (both ways) comes in. It’s also where RESURRECTION comes in.
From Whence Doth Easter Spring?
One of the most profound spring themes is resurrection. If the Earth can be reborn in spring, so can we! The most famous rebirth is that of Jesus who springs back to life on Easter Sunday, after being officially dead for three days. The miracle of resurrection captures the heart of human desire, and not just because it phonetically contains the word “erection.” Resurrection gives us hope of everlasting bliss. Thus it is one of the cornerstones of Christianity.
But Jesus wasn’t the first human/god to be born again in spring. Long before there was a rebirth of a Holy Son returning to His Heavenly Father, there was the resurrection of the Holy Daughter coming home to her Earth Mama… in spring. According to classical Greco-Roman mythology, the original bonoboësque festival of the year’s “first green” blossoms celebrated the resurgence of the radiant Goddess Persephone (Proserpina to the Romans) from the Bowels of Hell, where her Bad Boy husband Hades (Pluto) keeps her all Winter long. In Eleusis, the divine Daughter is “born again,” leaving the Realm of the Dead and rejoining Mother Demeter (Ceres), fair-haired fertility Goddess of the Earth, who is so ecstatic to embrace the resurrected Fruit of Her Loins that She showers the world in Spring.
Jesus Christ & Dionysus Bacchus
As men took the reins of human power on Earth, they also assumed all the leading roles in Heaven, and the sacred Mother-Daughter reunion metamorphosed into one between Father and Son. Still, the Jesus Spring was a long way off. The ancient Primavera Bacchanalia honored the resurrection of the great God Bacchus (Dionysus to the Greeks), a “Christlike,” charismatic and bonoboësque God of Spring whose cults evolved centuries before Christ. Interestingly, one of Dionysus’ consorts is Pan, the horned and horny goat God of the Wild who lends his name to Pan paniscus, the scientific classification for bonobos.
In the Spring Dionysia of ancient Athens, playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides presented tragedies and Aristophanes mounted his comedies (featuring Pan), while the private Dionysia of Greece and the Bacchanalia of ancient Rome included ecstatic rituals and bonoboësque orgies celebrating this extremely popular, complex deity who, in a number of intriguing ways, foreshadowed the coming, as well as the second coming, of Jesus Christ.
How could a God of Orgies have anything to do with sweet Jesus? Check out these eerie but strong similarities:
Both Gods are especially adorable as babies, as are bonobos.
Both Gods never lose their youthful, androgynous good looks, also like bonobos.
Both Gods have human “virgin” mothers and divine heavenly Fathers.
Both Gods are liberators and revolutionaries, overturning the status quo.
Both Gods treat women as equals, as bonobos do, and have passionate, prominent female followers.
Both Gods miraculously heal the sick.
Both Gods are intimately connected with wine.
Both Gods have, in a sense, their “flesh and blood” eaten and drunk by others.
Both Gods are charismatic “rock stars” with long hair, an entourage and adoring groupies.
Both Gods preach that the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.
Both Gods are Masters of Seduction, saying that “Heavenly ecstasy is yours if only you follow Me.”
Both Gods die terrible bloody deaths, suffering for the sake of humanity.
Both Gods are resurrected in spring.
And that’s just the basics. So, if Bacchus/Dionysus is so much like Jesus/Christ, why not have a Christian Bacchanalia? Why is the idea so ludicrous? There are many reasons, but essentially the Church succeeded with the power elites like the bonoboësque Festivals of Dionysus and Bacchus never did and thus became the upper class, as Barbara Ehrenreich points out in Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy, outlawing the old festivals, condemning them as “demonic” and identifying old, mischievous, pleasure-loving Pan as Satan Himself. As a result, the ecstatic, bonoboësque, communal essence of Dionysus/Bacchus/Jesus was repressed, oppressed and then, for the most part, lost.
This is why some of us try to look beyond the Church—not to mention the synagogue and the mosque—back to Bacchus or other sources to find that springy essence that may have once been the power of Jesus before His divine whitewashing. This may also be why, despite the high political profile of the religious right in America, church attendance is way down, especially among the young. More and more of us are checking the box “no religious affiliation” when asked to identify who we are and what we believe in.
And some of us are reaching out to nature, and that includes our kissing cousins, frisky, fun-loving Pan paniscus. Bonobos may not know how to bring each other back to life like Jesus or Dionysus. But they do seem to sip from a Fountain of Youth. Spring can’t last forever, but recent studies show that bonobos (especially the males) manage to make that younger-than-springtime feeling linger when grumpy old common chimps and other ape species (like us) rage into burning summer or freeze over into bitter winter’s hell.
So why not welcome a Bonobo Spring. Let it work its magic, releasing, renewing and, in some cases, res-erecting your lost libido. Party like a bonobo, or a bacchante—or the original Jesus and that hottie he stopped the bastards from throwing stones at. Take it from an oldster who’s been doing it for decades: living the Bonobo Way keeps you young (at heart anyway).
The Bonobo Spring Cleaning
From the earliest seedtime insurgencies to the Springtime of the Peoples in 1848 to the Prague Spring in 1968, the Arab Spring of 2010 to other more obscure uprisings, Springs of various eroto-political parties have sprung up from the “common folk,” blooming with hope, peace and love for humanity before crashing on the rocks of petty rivalries, tyranny and horrific murder and mayhem. Spring always seems to take us for a fall.
Will humans ever live in sustainable peace, equality, ecology and sexual freedom? We haven’t managed it since the advent of farming, at least, so the odds are against us. But as the peonies and pussy willows begin to flower, it always seems like maybe this spring…
And yes, I have high hopes for a Bonobo Spring because it’s inspired by the bonobos who never kill each other. But even if this spring is just a fling and no different than other springs, and we can’t change the world (at least not all at once), we can change ourselves. After all, the Bonobo Spring begins with me, and if you feel its spirit, it can begin with you too, and if you prime its pump, it will spring forth to your friends and lovers, your so-called “enemies” and adversaries, your co-workers and congress people. Mostly, you can’t help what happens to you or to anyone, but sometimes you have a choice. So when you do, choose peace. Choose ecosexuality. Stand up for bonoboësque values. Refuse to fight unless attacked. Refuse to go to war unless invaded. Refuse to support the MIC. Retrain the police. Reject sexual shame. Reject hypocrisy. Choose female-empowerment. Choose sisterhood, especially when you’re not sisters. Choose sex-positivity. Choose orgasms. Choose revolution. Choose the Bonobo Way. Save the bonobos. They will reciprocate and help us save ourselves.
Time for a Bonobo Spring Cleaning. Out with the old killer ape paradigm. In with the new. Time for the resurrection of love.
Susan Block, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Suzy,” is an internationally renowned LA sex therapist and author, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. Her newest book is The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure. Visit her at http://DrSusanBlock.com. For speaking engagements, call 310-568-0066. Email your comments to her at firstname.lastname@example.org and you will get a reply.
© March 19, 2015.