There it goes, Brothers and Sisters, Lovers and Sinners, another year, along with another whole decade, down the hatch, into the archives and off the table.
Now the future unfurls at our feet, its composition too hazy to make out.
Will it be a carpet of soft grass that puts a spring in our step? Or a path of hot coals that scorch our sole(s)?
It feels unwise to even trust the ground we walk upon, what with all the fake news, Pinocchio politicians, corrupt corporations, naïve journalists, ecocidal oligarchies, greedy tech billionaires, snakeoily preachers and a raging, grifting, foaming-at-mouth (but still grifting) IMPOTUS guiding our way.
At this most precarious time in human history, as the rich get richer, the Perma Wars go rolling along while the climate crisis hurtles past the “point of no return,” it seems more vital than ever to take a step back from the all-too-human bombast that got us into this jam in the first place—and get some much-needed guidance from a whole different species: our kissing cousins, the bonobos.
In a larger sense, we’d all do well to take some guidance from nonhuman nature in general, so that we might look out for each other like wolves, work productively like beavers, nurture others like the trees, make honey like the bees or tweet like birds… instead of mad, twitter-addicted humans.
But “nature in general” is a lot to handle, especially when your comprehension has been virtually squeezed into the space of a smart phone.
Enter bonobos, humanity’s closest genetic cousins. Some primatologists say they’re even closer to us than common chimpanzees, or at least just as close, which is more than 98% genetically similar to us.
Perhaps bonobos can act as “ambassadors” between us human apes and the rest of living nature that we are, according to most scientists, on the verge of wrecking completely.
Stop the Wars Already
Though the Dick Cheneys, Donald Rumsfelds, Mitch McConnells and Eric Princes of the world are performing their part of the wrecking/reckoning with diabolical foreknowledge, most of us have no more real comprehension of just how rapidly our so-called civilization is wrecking nature than a drunken teenager who wrecks the family car, killing himself, his friends, and half the people in the bus he crashes into.
Is this “progress”? Is this the future we’re working, fighting and hoping for?
Call me quirky, but I think the Bonobo Way can help us all get off the wrecking ball better than any other “way.”
After all, bonobos aren’t just closer to nature than us out-of-touch humans; their “Make Love Not War” culture holds the key to making peace among primates.
Fun fact: Bonobos are the only Great Apes who have never been seen killing each other in the wild or captivity. Hopefully, during the coming 2020s, they’ll teach us how to make peace before we put guns in their hands and teach them to kill.
Bonobos make peace through pleasure (with a little bit of pain), as well as female empowerment (yes, ladies rule Bonoboville), male well-being (the guys thrive) and lots of consensual sex, ecosexual affection and the sharing of food and other resources.
With the deadly but popular bipartisan acceptance of human Perma-War, peace seems to have gone out of style, even just as an ideal, if not a real possibility. Since the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) was shrewd enough to abolish the draft, young people barely even protest our endless wars. And what pop musician has come up with an awesome anti-war song lately?
Instead, Americans are excited about a Space Force that’s really a space farce, but with it, the power of war now extends into the heavens above us.
That power may not merely destroy our “enemies,” but all life on Earth, where war is the worst polluter of all, and the U.S. Military’s carbon footprint is larger than over 100 countries combined. There are few activities as environmentally catastrophic as waging war: winning, losing or *just* occupying.
This hit home just before the decade’s lights went out, in the midst of our intensely riveting yet incredibly dull Impeachment Mini-Series, though it was only tangentially related, in the form of the release of the Afghanistan Papers.
These 2,000 pages detail the bipartisan lies, devastating waste and out-of-the-park corruption that helped to start and perpetuate the longest war in U.S. history in one of the most beautiful places on Earth (I visited Afghanistan before the American invasion, so it’s “personal”), costing trillions of dollars and countless lives, human and nonhuman.. so far.
The killing fields of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and the mass-shooting-riddled streets, bars, temples and schools of America are the endzones of the paths that our leaders have led us onto this past year and over the past decade. These same leaders just passed a bipartisan $700+ billion military spending bill, which is about as unbonobo as you can get short of dropping a nuclear bomb.
This is why in 2020, I resolve to follow “the way” of those creatures who are most humane, even though they’re not even human.
2020 is the Year of the Bonobo (#6)
Thus, by my very personal calculations, 2020 (MMXX) is the sixth great Year of the Bonobo. While it’s true that this proclamation mirrors my 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 resolutions, it’s also true that the time is ripe and more urgent than ever for us to “go bonobos” for peace.
With so many powerful humans around the world generally behaving like baboons (but even lacking that rude primate’s relatively good manners), I more deeply than ever believe that the arrival of the auspicious 2020 calls us to action to:
Make like Bonobos, Not Baboons! Make Love, Not War…
It’s not that bonobos are totally nonviolent. They’re not angels. They’re animals like us, and they fight like we fight. Sometimes they even bite when they fight, but then, so do some humans.
However, unlike us, bonobos have developed ways to defuse their violence before it turns lethal. Studies reveal that they usually do this with sex, affection and social dynamics, as shown in the fascinating story of a motherless bonobo “refugee” named Bili, who was moved from a zoo in England to another in Germany.
In the German Wuppertal Zoo, poor Bili, with no mother (putting a male bonobo in a very weak position) and no friends, was, at first, bullied by some of the in-house bonobos. Then the zookeepers wisely rearranged the groups, and two older females (bonobo MILFs!), as well as a mature male, took a sexual interest in Bili. Bonobos are all bisexual or, you could say, pansexual (their Latin classification is pan paniscus). Once Bili started engaging in sex and affectionate behavior with reciprocating lovers, the whole group made “peace through pleasure” and stopped bullying the new boy.
It’s amazing how often bonobos show us that different kinds of sexual pleasure can be utilized to make peace, empower females and pacify males.
Yet, for various reasons, most modern mainstream media and social media would rather show images of murder and war than depictions of sex and pleasure.
If left unchecked, this Killer Ape mentality will kill us all.
The Good News is that all Great Apes aren’t killers like us. Maybe the bonobos are “close enough” to us to show us another way, a way that is antithetical to Puritanical imperialism, a way of peace through pleasure, female empowerment, male sexual satisfaction, inclusivity, ecosexuality and sharing resources that humanity needs to survive and thrive.
More Love, Less War.
Stop the War on Whores
“A loving society is an advanced society,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently told a crowd of Bernie supporters.
Free love might be the best love, but under our current capitalist system, everything costs something, and sex work is real work. That means sex workers are real workers. Hopefully in 2020, we’ll see more of the politicians and other folks who say they support “workers” coming out in support of consenting adult sex workers too.
One promising sign is that Senators Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren (either of whom would make a promising POTUS, compared to the others), along with Bernie’s Campaign Co-Chair Ro Khanna, are introducing a bill that would study the impact of FOSTA/SESTA, looking at if it has actually reduced human sex trafficking, as its sponsors claimed, and whether it has made sex workers safer.
Back in the Spring of 2018, the Senate passed SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act), called FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) in the House, in a vote of 98-2, a legislative event which epitomized the prodigious sexual cluelessness of America’s political elite.
Sure, the titles of these bills sound worthy enough; who doesn’t want to stop unsavory pimps from forcing underage girls and boys into prostitution? However, SESTA/FOSTA doesn’t do a damn thing to stop real sex trafficking and does do a whole lot to endanger the lives of consenting adult sex workers and their clients, as well as muzzling the Free Speech of all Internet users.
SESTA/FOSTA decimates Section 230, the federal provision shielding web publishers and platforms from legal liabilities due to things users post. Meaning, if a “sex trafficker” posts an ad, image or message of any sort on a social site, the site owners face “sex trafficking” charges. Nobody wants to be accused, let alone convicted, of sex trafficking which is tantamount to child molestation laced with pimping. So, over the past year and a half, social media sites have been madly censoring, deleting, punishing and restricting their users, as well as tightening and expanding their rules against nudity and erotic expression. It’s at a point where, on Instagram, Facebook or Youtube, you’re more likely to see a gun than a dildo.
We don’t have statistics on any of this yet—that’s why Khanna’s proposed study is so necessary—but I’m willing to bet my red-bottoms that FOSTA/SESTA has made sex workers less safe, even as it’s made our social media less sexy.
If passed, Khanna’s bill could be the beginning of repealing FOSTA/SESTA and maybe even decriminalizing sex work. What a great bonoboesque way to kick off the Roaring ‘20s (2.0) with a stiletto high heel.
Sex Work Among Bonobos
What does sex work have to do with going bonobos?
Bonobos show us that sex work is natural in the wild, but then so do a lot of nonhuman animals who often exchange “sex for meat” or coconuts or whatever a species likes to eat. But usually, it’s the male that “pays.”
Among bonobos, the difference is that the female sometimes “picks up the check,” essentially “paying” for the kind of sex she wants with the partner of her choice, just like so many males of other species do all the time.
Why? Because she’s got the coconuts.
There are no billionaires in Bonoboville. Bonobos don’t own real estate, or anything at all really, but the empowered bonobo female gets the choicest bits of food and the kind of sex she wants with the partners of her choice (“how about a mango for a muff-dive, you big ape?”), and sometimes she pays for it by giving a treat for her lover.
Whichever gender pays to play, sex work is real work, and consenting adult sex work is not trafficking. If we can decriminalize it, we will help sex workers to work in safety. Then, if we can destigmatize and even subsidize sex work, we will go a long way toward solving our growing incel problem.
Many incels say they despise sex workers, but that’s mainly because incel sexuality is deeply connected to perceived status. If sex work were to be destigmatized, the status of sex workers would rise to that of Renaissance courtesans, and most incels would be happy to be with them and—dare I say—pacified by the privilege, as well as the natural, healing release of oxytocin.
That happy bonoboesque outcome remains to be proven, but there’s no doubt that sex workers’, like all workers’, should have their rights respected.
Stop the War on Whores! #GoBonobos to repeal SESTA/FOSTA in 2020.
Not only is “sex work” natural and rather traditional (the world’s “oldest profession”); most Americans are unbothered by it. This includes many deeply religious Americans, even when it’s been revealed that their revered POTUS not only paid cash for sex, but had his lawyer pay more cash to silence the sex workers.
Cult members unquestioningly give their Dear Leader divine sexual privileges that they themselves don’t receive, nor does anyone else.
This is not bonobo. It’s more like a big gorilla (with apologies to real gorillas) lording it over a harem of tittering, bickering females while the less privileged males pace the perimeter in outwardly sycophantic submission and inwardly seething frustration.
Among bonobos, even the alpha leaders share food and sex.
The most the Trumpus will share is a tray of cold hamberders, but his cult eats it up.
Finally, as the 2010s, coughing from the fumes, sputtered to a close, the big narcissistic, nepotistic, cult-leading, windmill-tilting, billionaire tax-cutting gorilla was impeached.
Gorillas like this this don’t want to be “fair.” They just want to win, fairness be damned. McConnell has declared his intention to be as unfair as possible in judging the Impeachment Articles. This will probably keep the toxic Trumpus from being convicted and, since we didn’t abolish the Electoral College, may even help his reelection campaign (sigh), giving America an even more crippling case of electoral dysfunction).
Moreover, for what it’s worth (which is not much in 100 years when all of this is underwater), the Trumpus legacy has been rubberstamped for what it is:
An American president elected by a minority of Americans has been impeached by a House representing a majority of Americans.
Of course, the Trumpus is just a clownish cover to distract the populace (pro or con) while the Great American Kleptocracy (GAK) robs us of our future far beyond the 2020s.
Perhaps the Rotten Peach *should* be impeached for that Big Lie alone (though the GAK would never allow that), not to mention the ecocidal rape and pillage of America (for GAK’s sake), for caging children, for emoluments gone amuck, for lying every day 50 times a day, and many more serious crimes than playing games with Ukraine.
Then again… if they got Al Capone on tax evasion, why shouldn’t they get the Trumpus on begging to be bribed?
Party like a Bonobo
And why shouldn’t we celebrate?
Democraps who say We the People shouldn’t take pleasure in impeachment are sticks-in-the-mud of the Trump-infected swamp.
Besides, who knows what fresh horrors the 2020s will bring, especially now with the MIC flush with a fresh infusion of bipartisan cash.
So, it’s important to our bonoboesque state of well-being to celebrate this little scrap of peachy-good news while we can.
Of course, don’t be a sitting duck for Repugnican gotcha tweets by holding your impeachment parties on gas-guzzling yachts, pollution-belching planes with suspect names or in a crystal-encrusted wine cave.
But do… party like a bonobo in 2020!
Save the Bonobos
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also work harder than ever in 2020 to put some brakes on “progress” which seems to have a downside for every innovation.
Indeed, I’m wondering if I should identify as “progressive” in the 2020s, especially if the downsides of technological and economic “progress,” like pipelines, spyware and free markets, keep outweighing the positive breakthroughs of social progress.
In these times of breathtakingly rapid extinctions, with snowstorms and tornados invading Southern California, along with the climate changing uptick in our seasonal fires, as the Trumpus dismantles any environmental safeguards we once had (seemingly out of spite for Californians he knows will never vote for him), everyone is fighting for their favorite places and “pet” causes.
As those of you who know me know, I have a boner for bonobos.
I’m not saying bonobos are “better” than anyone else (well, maybe I am), but these amazing apes are so close to us and can teach us so much about ourselves, both in terms of our hunter/gatherer history (when we probably lived, in many ways, like bonobos live now) and our sustainable future.
Unfortunately, due to the devastating effects of human war, deforestation, mining and, especially, simple “poaching,” that is, humans hunting, shooting and killing bonobos (even though it’s illegal) for “bushmeat,” these extraordinary creatures are highly endangered.
Bonobos show us that peace through pleasure, consensual sex, female empowerment and male well-being isn’t a silly utopia that went out with Ram Das, but a key to our primal nature and sustainable future. These bonoboësque qualities may even link us to our primitive “fierce egalitarian” past to which Civilized to Death author Dr. Christopher Ryan refers, a part of our primate heritage with which the bonobos never lost touch. Can we open up to that part of ourselves that integrates “ecosexually” with nature? Can we release our inner bonobos… before it’s too late?
I don’t know if we can do it, but I do know that if we have any hope of succeeding, we shouldn’t let the real bonobos go extinct. That’s my resolution anyway, and the resolution—as well as the revolution—starts with me. And you. Since you’re reading this plea for bonobo awareness (possibly for the sixth time, in which case, my apologies for any repetition), I hope you’ll join me in helping save the bonobos through donations to:
1) Lola ya Bonobo (Bonobo Paradise) is a bonobo “refugee” sanctuary outside Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Operated by the luminous, tireless Claudine André, “orphans” of the devastating “bushmeat” trade are rescued, cared for at Lola, and eventually released back into the wild. Donations administered by Friends of Bonobos.
2) The Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI), founded by my amazing friend, Sally Coxe, works with indigenous people to develop a Bonobo Peace Forest, providing much-needed food, medical care, school supplies and jobs to villagers who live in the bonobos’ area to protect their precious and vulnerable wild populations from the ruthless or uninformed poachers who would shoot them for bushmeat.
3) The Bonobo Project, under the direction of Ashley Stone, is helping to spread the word about bonobos, their inspirational culture and their highly endangered status. Mark your 2020 Calendar for World Bonobo Day on February 14th. After all, Valentine’s Day is for lovers, and bonobos are the masters and mistresses of love… all kinds of love.
As we leap into the first Leap Year of 2020s, I resolve to do what I can to help save the bonobos, to release my inner bonobo and to help others to release theirs (if they so desire), to put pleasure before greed and love before hate, and to hold our leaders to that sexy, sustainable standard.
Amen and AWOMEN.
#GoBonobos in 2020!
© January 1, 2020. Susan Block, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Suzy,” is a world renowned LA sex therapist, author of The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure and horny housewife, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. Watch The Dr. Susan Block Show live every Saturday night from Bonoboville. For information, call 626-461-5950. Email comments or questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org and you will get a reply.