Canadian (yes, and we are not selling him!) commentator Mark Steyn, talking about a critical social issue today, mentions the cultural bonobo myth (we should be sexually uninhibited like them) :
But the new school soldiers on, arguing that chastity, fidelity, monogamy, etc, are mere social constructs: We’ve been indoctrinated into them by repressed cultural hierarchies. Sexual promiscuity is part of our nature: You should be getting it on with that hot chick at Number 27. And her husband. And get your wife in to video it. Screwing whatever you want whenever you want in whatever combination you want is as natural as wearing a mammoth pelt and sitting round the cave rubbing two sticks together – and the way the economy’s going we’ll all be doing that soon enough. Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá wrote a rather laborious book on the subject, Sex At Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins Of Modern Sexuality, that demonstrates by frequent recourse to biology, anthropology, ethnography and primatology that the idea of lifelong heterosexual marriage is a crock imposed on the world by party poopers. Your hunter-gatherer was the king of the swingers, the jungle VIP.
At this point in the argument, it’s customary to bring up bonobos. No, not the bloke from U2. He loves Africa, too, but not in that way. The bonobo is some kind of chimp that lives south of the Congo River, and is apparently the closest extant relative to humans. And, like us, he’s a bi-guy who can’t get enough casual sex. So, if he’s hip to it, why have we got so many hang-ups?
Hmm. Doesn’t sound like a fan.*
Here’s more about our little bonobo friends, so just like us:
Apes ‘R not us and we just have to get used to it.
Another claim for ape language that just doesn’t pan out
Flurry News Revisited: It’s one thing to dress baby girl chimps in pink, but …
Loving chimpanzee eats its victims alive, study shows
* Essentially, Steyn is discussing the consequences of “defining deviancy down”: = It’s one thing for Natalie Portman to be pregnant, proud, and unmarried, but what happens when Natalie Gofer, the minimum wage clerk at the Best Price, copies her? It’s easier to be proud when you’re on Sunset Boulevard with a baby than when you’re on welfare with a baby. And its easier to be a solo mom on, say, $1.5 million than on $15k. In my view (one I expect that Mark shares), the people who market destructive lifestyle choices to the Gofers of the world deflect their guilt by accusing everyone else of oppressive morality. One thing the marketers of ‘sin’ to Gofer are not guilty of is oppressive morality of any kind. Nor the slightest hint of conscience or normal levels of social responsibility. No, it’s fair to say that they have liberated themselves from all that oppression and dumped the load on everyone else. Bonobos never did that.