Monday, January 18, 2010
Studies of our two closest primate relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, suggest that he might be right. Chimpanzees are native across equatorial Africa as far east as Uganda. They live in small family units controlled by a dominant male. Theirs is an aggressive and often violent society. Succession is determined by conflict, and it has been found that infanticide is used by males in order to bring females into heat. Encounters with other chimpanzee groups are typically met with violence.
Bonobos, on the other hand, are a matriarchal society, living in extended families of related females. They are found only in the deepest jungles of central Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire). Bonobos were not identified as a separate species until 1929, and had not been studied intensively until fairly recently because of the many decades of internal violence that dominated the region. What has recently been learned about bonbon society is extraordinary.
Bonbon communities are tranquil and loving, The female members of the group are close-knit and supportive of one another. Males are welcome members of the group, but do not dominate. Sexual activity is frequent and casual and largely serves to strengthen the bonds within the group. Relationships are cordial and every member sings out a good-night on retiring for the night. Matriarch succession takes place peacefully, and contacts with other family groups are welcome and cordial. It seems like a model society, from which we could possibly learn something. It is based on love, not violence. There seems to be a sense of empathy; mutual support within the group is strong, the young are loved and looked after by the community, and there is no animosity of aggressive feelings toward the other groups.
Now let's take a comparative look at our male-dominated society which glorifies wars and seems to be constantly creating reasons to engage in them. It's the testosterone-driven macho thing to do. Fathers who are veterans of wars are proud to have their sons go off to fight in the next one. Mothers see it quite differently. Too many fathers are interested only in creating children, and then neglect them instead of providing the family support and example needed to make their children productive members of society. All too many young men are overly absorbed in sports and booze, and have a caviler attitude toward education. As a result they fail to put forth the effort to acquire the skills needed to earn an income adequate to provide an education for their children. Increasingly women are having to take on that responsibility, and women now outnumber men in earning college degrees.
That being the case, why shouldn't we let women run the world? They certainly couldn't do a worse job than men have. There is no place in the world where women's influence is more needed than in those Muslim countries where they have virtually no voice. Educating and empowering women in those countries is very possibly the only way of ending Islamic terrorism.
— Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin's column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.