Back in the 1960s professor Leakey in trying to understand how early humans behaved decided that a insight in this could be gained by observing different species of apes in the wild. He decided that women were better observers than men, so he used women like Jane Goodall observing chimpanzees Diane Fossey studying Gorillas. The result of this brought about a revolution in the study of apes, and many new things were discovered. Like chimpanzees were able to make tools, as up until then scientists believed that only humans could do this. Also it was discovered that gorillas were gentle and peaceful creatures, as it was formerly believed that gorillas were dangerous and aggressive animals. All the other apes were observed in the same way, with the bonobo being only intensely observed in very recent times.
One of the first surprises about this ape is that it is very sexual in its behaviour. Like the human female the bonobo female can still have sex even when her body is not ready for fertilization. It also indulges in homosexual sexual behaviour with both sexes doing this and can copulate face to face. (Though the orangutan has also been observed to do this as well).
In many other animals and apes aggression between males and against females is quite common. Most animals overcome this aggression by having a strict hierarchical system where everyone knows its place. With the animals with lesser social status giving way to those with higher status. The animal's place in the system is controlled by its strength and aggression. So fights only break out when a animal of lesser status wants to achieve higher status in the pecking order.
The bonobo does have a similar system but aggressive behaviour between them is far less than other animals because of the way they use sex. In a article by Frans B. M. de Waal, it compares the different behaviour of chimpanzees and bonobos when two females and a male come across some food. In the case of the chimpanzees the food was bananas. Their behaviour was very straight forward the male chimpanzee fed first until he had enough and he then took away as many bananas as he could carry. Then the dominant female fed herself, and the subordinate female it seems got nothing. In the case of the bonobos it was sugar cane, and their behaviour was more complex. The two female started by indulging in sex by rubbing their genitals together. While the male bonobo displays his erect penis to them, but they ignore him. Then the two female fed together equally and only when they had finish was the male allowed to feed.
This is it seems is normal bonobo behaviour where there is a possibility of a dispute, the first thing they do is to have sex together which seems to defuse the situation. In this situation the natural aggression of the male seems to work against the male bonobo in contrast to the way it helps the male chimpanzees. As the female bonobos are less aggressive it is easier for them to bond with each other, which they reinforce through sexual play. It then makes it easier for them to gang up on males, who although do also bond together through sex, are still more aggressive towards each other. This makes them less able to co-operate and work together in the way the females can. Which suggests that the bonobo could also be called, “The Sisterhood Is Powerful” ape.
As the bonobo males are bigger than the females they stand a better chance in a one to one situation but even here they can lose out. In a conflict say over food, the female will immediately have sex with the male, the sexual bonding defuses the natural aggression of the male and they will share the food equally. It also has been observed of a male who had found a large fruit and a female immediately had sex with him and he afterwards gave her his fruit. Which seems to be the first case observed in the animal world of prostitution. Female bonobos will also encourage males to help in looking after their children in return for sexual favours. Which also sounds very much like human behaviour.
So this it seems is how the slogan "make love not war" can work in practice, by having disputes settled by sexual bonding. Comparing the bonobo’s behaviour with that of the chimpanzees’ can assess how effective this is. Both animals share 98% of the genetic makeup of a human and we were all the same animal as little as eight million years ago. In fact of the body structure of the bonobo looks very similar to that of a australopithecine, a early pre-human with similar length arms and legs. From this it is speculated that the bonobo is more similar to our common ancestor than either the chimpanzee or the human. With the human later growing longer legs and a more upright stance while the chimpanzee growing longer and stronger arms to climb trees. As our body is shaped by our behaviour over evolutionary time, it is reasonable to suggest that how the bonobo behaves today is more like how our common ancestor behaved in the past.
The behaviour of the chimpanzees is of the traditional patriarchal society. Chimpanzees only have sex to fertilise the females when they are on heat. This is the ideal of the patriarchal Christian Church who has tried to enforce this type of behaviour for hundreds of years. Claiming that sex only for the sake of pleasure is "sinful" and should only be used for conception. So it is strange that the Christian Church has never held up the chimpanzee as a ideal of moral virtue!
Chimpanzees tend to bond through fear and mutual protection, with a group of males holding on to a territory against other groups of males. There seems to be sometimes war between these different groups over land, resulting in males getting badly injured or even killed. The effect of this is there is always more females in a community than males as so many males get killed through violence. As the males have to stick together to fight off the territorial ambitions of other groups of male, they bond closer together than the females. Males not only show aggression to other groups of males but to each other, as they will charge each other or show off their strength to try and intimidate each other to gain more status in the pecking order. Aggression is also shown towards females who being smaller than males have to give way to them in all disputes.
In contrast the bonobo society nearly all aggression is defused through sexual bonding. It has been observed in zoos that if say a cardboard box is thrown into the enclosure and more than one bonobo shows interest in it. They will then briefly mount each other before playing with the box together. Or if one jealous male chases away another male near a female. The two males will then reconcile with each other by engaging in scrotal rubbing together. The same will be true if two adult females have a dispute over the behaviour of one of their children. They will reconcile by rubbing their genitals together. Male bonobos rarely fight each other over status. A male bonobo stays attached to his mother all his life and his status in society depends on the status of his mother, whom he will look to for protection from any aggression from other bonobos. Even though she may be smaller than him in size.
In human behavioural studies it has been noted that people who live in very stressful situations like extreme poverty, war, prison, an aggressive family or neighbourhood, tend to become very desensitised and so they are far less affected by fear and pain. In Hellabrun, Germany, in the World War Two there was a zoo, which housed both chimpanzees and bonobos. One night the city was bombed and the bonobos died of fright from the noise while the chimpanzees were completely unaffected. Demonstrating how desensitised chimpanzees have become living in their brutal patriarchal society, and how sensitive bonobos are, living in a more peaceful matriarchal world.
Apart from the fact that chimpanzees do not get married or "pair-bond". Its society is very much like a normal human patriarchal society. And until bonobo behaviour was studied properly, chimpanzee behaviour justified the patriarchal society as being "natural" for humans. So it is of interest that when primatologists first started to study bonobos in zoos during the 1950s the first findings were completely ignored by the scientific establishment until the 1970s. Even today most people are unaware of the behaviour of the bonobo or even that such a creature exists. The reason for this silence is because the bonobo's behaviour undermined all our patriarchal beliefs about human and pre-human behaviour.
If the bonobo is a very sexual ape than it has to be said that so is the human. Though chimpanzees only partake in basic reproductive sex, bonobos share all kinds of sexual pleasures, including cunnilingus, fellatio, masturbation, massage, bisexuality, incest, body-licking, sex in different positions, group sex, and French kissing. Also like humans in love, copulating bonobos often look deeply into each other’s eyes.
Although patriarchal societies have attempted to enforce sexual relations in the confines of marriage, many human have always had urges to want more than this. So in all patriarchal societies none have been able to prevent prostitution. While in secret and sometimes quite openly both men and women have had relationships outside of marriage. In very recent times with the decline of the patriarchal society, marriage is breaking down in Western countries. Which has resulted in many people frequently changing sexual partners, having "one night stands", joining sex-clubs, going to sex-parties, advertising for sex in contact magazines or having “open” relationships. So why do many people have the urge to have sex with many different partners? To the degree that the patriarchal society with all its laws, religious and social censure fail to stamp this behaviour out. The only reason could be is that before the patriarchal society took control with all it laws to restricting people's behaviour. People’s behaviour must of been very similar to that of the bonobo.
Bonobos like humans also tend to eat food in the company of other bonobos in big dinner parties. It seems that when fruit is in abundance bonobos will collect the fruit for a large community feast. Then will eat it together, in a big banquet after the high status females have eaten first. This is very unlike the chimpanzees that will generally hide food from others and eat alone. Another interesting point is that human couples have romantic evenings together. This involves sharing a meal together, either at a restaurant or sometimes at home, then having sex together. Which is also what bonobos couples do, though they tend to have sex before the meal and not afterwards.
It is well know that many couples when they have a "flaming row", they will afterwards "make up" by having sex together. To the degree that some couples claim that they enjoy a turbulent relationship because they greatly enjoy the making up afterwards. This then is similar to bonobo behaviour of using sex to defuse a conflict.
So like the bonobos, humans do associate conflict and food with sex. In times of war it used to be that when a conquering army takes a town or city, all the women and even sometimes the men are raped. This behaviour is generally seen as an expression of power over conquered people. Which is probably true but looking at bonobo behaviour their could be another reason for this. Perhaps it is a form of unconscious reconciliation by rape. Soldiers in warfare can become through extreme fear, very aggressive in battle. Even disciplined troops have been known to slaughter defenceless civilian populations after a battle, because of this fear induced aggression. So rape may defuse this situation, making possible for the soldiers to calm down and prevent a killing spree.
In the past when people used to worship Goddesses which is a indication of a matriarchal religion. The later patriarchal priests condemned the priestess of Goddess temples as being prostitutes. When the Romans first conquered Britain many of the Celtic tribes were still ruled by Queens. Their behaviour was seen as being very scandalous by later writers, as some of these Queens would openly have sex with large numbers of different men. So it does suggest that the old matriarchal societies were far more sexual than the later patriarchal societies. Which does suggest that a matriarchal society could perhaps be as sexual as a bonobo society. With people bonding together through sexual behaviour, allowing people to be more intimate with each other. Which will in turn will create a more intimate, caring and loving community.
War has been "normal" throughout recorded history, where there has never been a time when there hasn't been a war going on in some part of the world. Many people have written about the senseless suffering of war, and have looked unsuccessfully for ways to prevent future wars. The study of both the chimpanzee and bonobo societies shows there is a alternative to war. In the non-sexual chimpanzee society, conflict and war is normal. In the very sexual bonobo society conflict is rare. So because of the study of these different ape societies we find that the slogan "make love not war" is not a joke but does in fact work.
It is of interest that Frans de Waal who has written books and articles about the bonobo was criticised by Dawkins for “bad science”. Which is understandable because observations on the bonobo undermine completely his belief that we are all basically selfish. Perhaps it would be “good science” to ignore the bonobo completely and only concentrate on the chimpanzee. It is of interest that Dawkins also criticises the anthropologist Margaret Mead. Her crime being that she observed human nature in a positive light. Also the fact that she was both a famous scientist and a feminist at the same time upset many of her male colleges.
It then means we humans have a choice. As pointed out previously both the chimpanzee and bonobo are the closest species to us, and we can clearly see similarities in their behaviour to ours. The behaviour of the chimpanzee is very similar to a patriarchal society in that it is very violence and relatively non-sexual.
In contrast the bonobo live in a very sexual world where both males and females bond together through many different forms of sexual play. So it means we all get to be laid and with multiple partners and can experiment with heterosexual and homosexual sex play. We even would get to try things that are considered to be kinky. The bonus is that by bonding through sex we won’t have to fight wars any more. Is it that easy? Well probably not, as human society is far more complex than that of the bonobo.
Yet we can see many similarities with bonobo society.
1. Over the last hundred years in the West women have gained equal opportunity, and guess what? As women have gain more status, power and freedom, our society has become more sexually liberated at the same time. Is that a coincidence?
2. Patriarchal societies create oppressive laws and customs not only to restrict women’s freedoms but also women’s sexuality. In fact patriarchal Christians have declared that sex is dirty and sinful and can only be used for reproduction. Which is what chimpanzee do.
3. Goddess religions in the past were called an abomination by patriarchal priests because they openly used sexual rituals. Goddess priestesses were condemned by patriarchal priests as temple prostitutes. Was this just sour grapes by patriarchal priests because they weren’t getting laid? Or had they worked out the connection between sex and intimacy versus war and sexual frustration. It is of interest that even today many sportsmen will not have sex before an important sporting event because they believe sex will weaken them. Doctors claim that this is a myth because sex only weakens a person temporary. So having sex the night before is not going to affect any sportsman physically. Yet coaches ignore this advice, so perhaps sex will lessen men’s aggression and this is why it will weaken men. Some coaches have even banned wives and girlfriends when going to sporting events in other countries. Does this suggest that even the presents of girlfriends and wives undermine the sportsmen’s aggression?
4. In the Neolithic age we find many images of sexual expression as we find the presents of Goddess worship and non-violence. Is this just another coincidence?
5 The famous psychiatrist Sigmaund Freud discovered at the beginning of the 20th century that most of his patients were suffering from mental illness because of sexual repression. So it seems that suppression of sexual desire can not only make men violent but also it can cause female hysteria.
This concept was taken even further by the controversial psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich, who has been dubbed, “A scientist with attitude” He was originally a disciple of Freud but Reich took Freud’s theories to the extreme, claiming that our whole society was insane because of sexual repression. This was a step too far for Freud whom was very aware that his theories were controversial enough already. He wanted social acceptance and scientific respectability for them and didn’t want to alienate everyone by taking it too far. This wasn’t a consideration for Reich who was willing to, “rush in where angels fear to tread”.
He created a storm in Austria in the 1930s by trying to encourage young girls to have sex before marriage and teach them about contraception. This in a society that then rigidly believed that it was a sin and a social disgrace for a woman to have sex before of marriage. He was forced to leave Austria and went to Germany in 1933, where he wrote a book called The Mass Psychology Of Fascism, which linked fascism with sexual repression and insanity. Which didn’t exactly go down a storm with the Nazi party and he had to flee Germany in disguise. He then went to Copenhagen and managed to upset the Danish Communist Party and other left wing intellectuals. (They claimed that his book The Mass Psychology Of Fascism was counter-revolutionary). The Danish government had him thrown out of the country and about the same time, the Congress of Psycho-analysis, also expelled him for his views and opinions. He ended up in USA where he continued to make waves and upset people. Then after the Second World War he was sent to prison where he died and the FBI destroyed his papers and laboratories. To make enemies of the Nazis, the Communists and USA authorities, is quite a feat, and he probably died in prison wondering, “was it something I said?”
The irony is that he was put into prison by a country that proclaimed freedom of speech. All right, he clearly didn’t read the book, How To Win Friends And Influence People, and some of his theories and research was very wild and controversial.. Yet why did the authorities need to destroy all his research papers and try to burn all the books he had published? After all he had lost all scientific credibility by chasing UFOs in the Arizona desert, and trying to shoot them down with something called a cloudbuster. All right, perhaps he did go potty towards the end of this life. Yet his earlier work was just a logical extension of Freud’s work. Saying what Freud dare not say, for fear of upsetting too many people. What probably upset the authorities so much was the fact that Reich was brave or foolhardy enough to claim that the whole of our society was insane because of sexual repression. Which although sounds like a extreme position, is valid when we realise that the whole of human kind became very close to committing global suicide during the Cold War. We must remember that USA was gripped by the McCarthyism at the time Reich was put into jail. So the last thing the authorities at the time would want is a psychiatrist claiming that they were paranoia in wanting to persecute communists. More so if he was to comparing them to Nazis in the way they persecuted people.
Oppression, genocide, war and male violence in general is justified through the concept of good and evil. The concept is one of the biggest con tricks ever invented. This can be illustrated by a story about an encounter between Lady Astor and Joseph Stalin. Before the Second World War Lady Astor was a member of a party of British MPs who visited the Soviet Union and were made guests Stalin. Lady Astor being a very out spoken woman verbally attacked Stalin for the millions of peasants that had died, because of his policies of the collectivisation of agriculture and forced industrialisation. He listened to her patiently and then explained that it was very unfortunately that all these people died, but it was needed if the Soviet Union was to become an industrial country and was able to efficiently feed itself in the future. He clearly didn’t see anything wrong with what he was doing, and believed it was necessary to make the Soviet Union a modern prosperous country.
The point is that to many people Joseph Stalin was one of the most evil men in history. Yet he didn’t see himself like this. He honestly saw himself as a good man who was attempting to do the best for his country. Likewise the same can be said of even worse tyrants like Hitler and Po-Pot the Cambodia dictator. Hitler felt justified in the genocide of the Jews and Slavs because in his mind they were a evil and inferior race. This means that in his mind he was a good person, fighting what HE had decided was evil. The same is true of Po-Pot who slaughtered millions of his own countrymen and women who didn’t share his ideal of a perfect society. What is clear is that all these men believed very strongly that, “the ends justified the means”. So in their minds war, violence, torture and genocide were all acceptable in creating, what they believed was a better future for their countries.
I remembered once reading about a prison governor who relating his long experiences dealing with prisoners explained the surprising fact, that most criminals see themselves as good people. It seems that criminals tend to blame society, the police or the system for their crimes. To be fair, there is some justification for this, as the majority of criminals come from the poorest and least educated sections of society.
This then means that if we divide the world up into good guys and bad guys. We find it is very much a matter of opinion who is who. For instance in the conflict in Northern Ireland the Roman Catholic assume it is the Protestant para-militaries and the police who are the bad guys. While the Protestants assume it is the IRA. With both sides claiming that the other side are the evil and they off coarse are the good guys. It makes peace talks between the two sides very difficult, if not impossible. The IRA and the Protestant terrorist groups are also in a strange collusion, because they are justified in their existence and actions by the behaviour of the other side. As both sides can point to the atrocities done by the other side to give credence to their violent behaviour. This keeps a cycle of violence going in perpetually.
This is true for every war ever fought. With both sides claiming that they are the good guys while the other side is off coarse evil. This was brought out in the open in the Xmas of 1914 during the First World War. The British and Germans in the trenches began singing Christmas carols with each other, and then calling out to each other over no-mans-land. In the end some soldiers came out trenches and began to talk with each other and organising football matches against each other. When they began to talk British and German soldiers ask each other.-
“What are you fighting for?”
“For freedom and my country,” came the replied, “what are you fighting for?”
Exchanges like this caused many of the soldiers to ask the obvious question,
“Why are we fighting each other?”
Unfortunately no one came up with a sensible answer to this question. The incident greatly worried the politicians and military leaders on both sides as it threatened to turn the whole war into a farce. (Which is what war is, although it is a very tragic farce). In the end “normality” was restored and both sides went back to murdering each other. The problem this highlights is that war is easy if you believe the people you are fighting are bad or evil. Once you realise they are just human being like yourself, then this greatly undermines the moral justification for wanting to kill them.
The result of condemning someone as evil is that it de-humanises them. Once it has been agreed that someone is evil then it becomes acceptable to hurt, torture and kill them. For instance the justification of Europeans to massacre and steal the land of the native people in the Americas and Australia was that they were “savages”. Which is just another de-humanising word like bad and evil.
In many action and adventure films, books and TV programmes the concept of good and evil comes across very strongly. A villain is established; who behaves in an appalling manner and this gives the hero the justification to commit violence and murder on the villain. Some commentators claim that these stories are just harmless fun. Yet as any advertising executive knows, people are greatly influenced by what entertains them. So in the end it becomes just another way to indoctrinate people, that hate and violence is perfectly justified.
Even intelligent and academic people can be seduced by the concept of good and evil as in the case of the Christian author and academic C.S Lewis. He wrote a trilogy of Science Fiction books to explore religious themes. I read the first one, Out of the Silent Planet and I thought it was very good book but the second one Journey To Venus shocked and horrified me. In it, he had a hero and a villain travel to Venus, where they find a Garden of Eden complete with a Venusian Adam and Eve. (This was written before and spacecraft flew to Vesus, to show what a inhospitable planet it is.) Both men then set about influencing this couple’s beliefs. Initially, the villain was successful; the Venusians listened to him more than they did the hero. Eventually the hero became desperate, believing there was nothing but misery for the Venusians if they followed the villain’s ideas. His solution was to beat the villain to death with a rock. The logic being that his actions were justified because the man was evil. Yet it was an appalling message to give to the Venusians, if you can’t win an argument, kill your opponent! C. S. Lewis was a respected academic. He wrote children’s books, which are still hugely popular, and a number of books on religion, as well as his novels. Yet it’s clear that illusions about good and evil were able to blind even an intelligent man like him.
The concept of good and evil also prevents us from solving problems like crime. The “macho” solution to crime is that when you catch a criminal you then punish him. (it is far more likely to be a him than a her). Yet prisons are known and the “university of crime”, in that they are more likely to confirm a man into a life of crime than cure him. This happens for four reasons.
1. In going to prison a criminal gets to mix with other criminals where he learns better ways to rob and steal from other prisoners. He also gets to make criminal contacts, which he will probably use once he is released.
2. In mixing with other criminals he gets to believe that crime is a ‘normal’ way of life for him.
3 Once a man has a criminal record it is much harder for him to get a legal job. So he is more likely to drift back to a life of crime even if he has intentions of going straight.
4 Although in theory criminals are not longer punished. Being put into a over crowed prison can be hell, which results in criminals becoming brutalised. So they learn to hate the society that put him into prison. Teaching a man to hate society and then releasing him back into the community, is not a good idea.
Prison should be about rehabilitation. This has been put forward as early as the 19th century but even now in the 20th century many politicians and prison governors still only pay lip service to this concept. In many Western countries today prisoners are still not properly educated and get no support or help to become productive members of the community.
Although it is natural for people to want to punish criminals more so if you are personally a victim of crime. Revenge is certainly not the answer and it only makes a bad situation even worse. This is clearly illustrated by happened in Tihar jail in India.
In the 1980s Kiran Bedi was a very successful female tennis star, but she then abandoned her jet-set life to become the first female officer in the Indian police force. She rose swiftly through the ranks and her success made her enemies of some of her superiors, who firmly believed that a women’s place was in the home. So to bring her down a peg or two they gave her the poison chalice, of one of the toughest jobs imaginable. They made her the governor of Tihar jail.
To quote, -
Tihar Jail in New Delhi is the size of a small town. It was designed to hold three thousand people. Instead, it holds ten thousand men, women and children. The desolation of the surroundings reflects the dire poverty of the inmates. There are no means of occupation, education or recreation, and the prison is a breeding ground for the very crimes it was designed to punish. Drugs are endemic, prostitution flourishes, corruption breeds and violence and fear lurk in every corner. Remand prisoners, including women with their children, can languish here for up to ten years before their cases come to trial, sharing overcrowded cells with petty thieves, murders and addicts. Under a succession of male governors, mob management barely maintains the status quo, and the problems are more than the staff can handle. Inmates are sometimes shot at random by prison officers out of control.
So in July 1993 this small Indian woman stepped into the hell of Tihar prison. Yet she had the self-confidence to adopt a very feminine strategy to govern the prison and quickly changed everything.
She fired the worst prison officers, then began a radical restructure of the prisoners day. She introduced a complaint box for inmates to air their grievances. She initiated drug rehabilitation, health care, yoga therapy, prayer meetings, music, arts and crafts sessions, adult literacy and physical fitness programmes. Idleness was banished, every hour of the day was positively accounted for, and she achieved this by motivation and encouragement, not by the ‘compelling force of law’…To men and women used to the rule of the stick and the gun, the arrival of Kiran Bedi was like a gift from the Gods.
She even called in a famous guru S.N. Goenka to teach the prisoners meditation.
The authorities who appointed Kiran Bedi in the expectation of destroying her saw her turn every obstacle to her advantage, winning the trust, respect - and love - of both prisoners and officers. She was given the Magsaysay award for public service, and although her time at Tiher was short-lived, the changes she instituted had a lasting effect. Prisoners who leave the jail do not usually return.
Punishing prisoners is the masculine solution to crime while rehabilitation is the feminine way. In the West both methods are used. With politicians and newspaper owners trying to whip up hatred by the general public against prisoners. So they can once again use the masculine methods to brutalise prisoners. Although in theory politicians claim that prison is for rehabilitation, they tend to starve the prison service of money so prisons are vastly overcrowd and don’t have the staff or resources to rehabilitate the prisoners properly. This has resulted in Britain in recent years of some prisoners being locked up 23 hours of 24 hours in a day.
Yet the ideas of reforming prisoners instead of punishing them goes back to the early 19th century.
Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) came from a wealthy Quaker family, and enjoyed the benefits of a very academic education, which was unusual for women of those days. In 1812 she began to take a interest in the plight of prisoners and visited London's Newgate prison for women and was appalled at what she saw there. Prisoners were crowded into single cells where they had to eat, sleep and defecate. Typically a woman's children would accompany her to prison, where they lived in destitute poverty, obtained clothes, alcohol, even food by begging or stealing. To tolerate this hell many prisoners only begged for alcohol and sat around in a drunken stupor stark naked.
Other prisoners who were unable to beg or cared for by families or charities simply starved to death. Children often remained in the prison until their mothers died or were executed. They clung to their mothers and watched as they were led to the gallows and hung.
The attitude at the time that prisons were places of punishment and that the inmates were evil, so this perfectly justified this appalling treatment. Elizabeth Fry didn’t see it like this and set about using all the influence of her position of wealth and privilege gave her.
She started by providing basic food, clothing and medicine for the prisoners. She then turned to education, ministering to the prisoners and establishing a small school. Recognising that occupation was essential to self-esteem and dignity, she convinced the wardens that the school should be run by the prisoners themselves. She also provided materials allowing the women to sew, knit and make goods for sale, in order to buy food, clothing and fresh straw for bedding. In 1817 she enlisted the help of ten friends to form the Ladies' Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate.
Somehow her work did prick the conscience of the nation. She soon found herself in the role of a prisoner adviser and was invited to other prisons to advice on measures for improvements. She was also asked to give evidence on prison reform before a Committee of the House of Commons in which she advocated compassionate treatment of prisoners. It says something for her personality that in a age when women were suppose to keep quiet, her views and opinions were listened to and some of them became in time encoded in the laws of England.
She was even invited to Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Prussia to give advice to prison officials and reformers in these countries. Her work planted the seeds that prisons are place for reforming and not punishment.
Her ideas were tried out by a prisoner governor called Alexander Maconochie on Norfolk island in 1840-44. Norfolk island, which was halfway between Australia and New Zealand, was in many ways the British version of the more infamous French, Devil’s Island. Where the prisoners were kept in harsh and degrading conditions to punish them for their crimes. Maconochie instead bravely tried reforming prisoners instead of punishing them.
After receiving contradictory stories about his reforms the authorities sent out a commission. His report was very favourable but Maconochie was still dismissed by a new Colonial Secretary. Yet his success can be measured by the fact that of 920 prisoners he released only 20 were re-convicted.
Back in Britain he was to obtain support from many people including Charles Dickens and became a very controversial figure. Because then people believe in a evil criminal class, the idea that criminals can be reformed undermines the concept of evil and the justification of punishment. Also it makes people also ask questions like, “why are people criminals”. If we ask questions like this, then we have to look at the unfair hierarchical system that gives some people great wealth, power and privilege and others only poverty and brutality, because the overwhelming numbers of criminals come for the poor and unprivileged sections of society. So it is not surprising that most, “good” people come from the upper and middle classes and most “bad” people come from the working classes. (The word villain come from the middle ages and originally meant villager. So this word gives an insight about what the upper classes then felt about the common people).
This then is adding insult to injury. Not only do he rich and powerful keep the vast majority of wealth and power in their own hands. On top of this, they condemn the poor as being bad and evil, while they of coarse are good people.
Punishment and vengeance are the masculine solutions to problems. That is to say you overcome violence with violence. In other words, “two wrongs make a right”. In this situation the person with the biggest stick wins. Yet violence has another side to it in that it ensures that men have dominance over women.
Aggression, competition and violence are the ways that men can always get the upper hand over women, whereas a non-violence and non-competitive community gives all the advantages to women. This has been clearly shown in primate studies.
In many species of primates like chimpanzees, orang-utans and hamadryas baboons male violence against females is commonplace. A female can expect an assault from the larger males on average once a week and can be seriously injured about once a year from these assaults. Observations of these assaults suggest that males do this to gain sexual access. This behaviour is very similar to that observed of men in badly run prisons. If a naïve and attractive looking young man is put into prison he will find himself being assaulted by older prisoners, who want to have sex with him. If caught on his own in a group he may find himself being raped. He quickly learns from this he has two choices. He can continue to be assaulted and raped, or if he wants to stop this he has to align himself with a protector. This would be a bullyboy or alpha man in the prison who will give the young man protection in return for sexual access. It was from this form of relationship the contemptuous expression “sucker” or “bum” come from, in referring to people at the bottom of the pecking order. It is also the origins of the sayings like, “get your arse (ass) over here”, or “get your arse into gear”, which are very dominant assertions to man about to be buggered. There is nothing about consent or consideration of other people’s feelings in any of these sayings. The passive male’s response about this form of relationship is the statement, “your just a pain in the arse”(to me).
This expression is similar to, “your a right pain in the neck” in reference to someone who is too demanding. A way a person can get a neck ache is through giving cunnilingus. (This happens because to lick a women’s clitoris while she is lying on her back, the man is forced to hold his head back. If this goes on for too long he can get a neck ache). So a man could say that about a women who is too demanding in wanting him to give her long sessions of oral sex. Now this is unlikely to become a common saying in patriarchal times. So it must be a very ancient, going back to a time when women were the dominant sex.
In primate behaviour we can see a strong connection between sex and power. In many primate species, when two male confront each other and one back down he turn his back and allows the winner to demonstrate his superiority by mounting him. Which is also the behaviour of homosexual men in that the man who “takes it up the arse” is seen as the submissive member of the relationship. In Japanese macaque monkeys females have been observed to mount males and rub themselves against the male. As the female is the dominant sex in this species it is a demonstration of the dominance of the female. Again we can see similar behaviour in human beings. In the dominatrix scene some of them wear strap-on dildos and bugger their clients. Who are willing to pay for this privilege.
Male violence takes away the female’s right to choose who which males she wants to mate with, in any species where males fight among themselves for the right to mate. The strongest male also uses violence against females to keep them under his control. So violence becomes a way of keeping women, “in their place”.
We can see this pattern in human traditional patriarchal societies where husbands are encouraged to assault their wives. In many Islam countries they claim that a man has no “honour” if he doesn’t exercise his right to beat his wife. This custom also give him the right to have sex or rape his wife whenever he wants to without contraception, and so taking away the women’s right to refuse to have children.
Also in these societies boys are also beaten, the idea being to “toughen them up”. Child abuse is needed to make “real men” out of boys. The way it works is that if a child is abuse enough then they only way he can cope with it is to learn not to feel anything. This then makes him not only unaware of his own pain but the pain of others. In fact more than that it teaches him to hate, so he can become a “good” soldier and kill without pity, and become a “good” father and husband and in turn beat his wife and children without mercy.
Yet not all primates are like this. Many species are female dominated like the bonobo ape, Vervet monkeys, macaques, olive baboons, patas, rhesus monkeys, grey langus, capuchins, prosimians and Lemus. In all these species the females form a powerful sisterhood, where if one female is assaulted or intimidated by a larger male, then all the females in the area will be quick to defend their sisters and drive the male away. The exception is the Lemus were female dominance seemed to be bred within the species.
So these studies show that in all primates including humans male dominance over females is only possible through male violence. While female dominance came about through a powerful sisterhood. So it seems from primate studies we have we have two choices.
1. We can behave like chimpanzees, and live in a violent; male dominated, and sexually repressed society.
2. We can behave like bonobos and live in a non-violent, female dominated and sexually liberated societies were anything goes.
So which type of society is natural for human beings? It could be that both types of societies are natural for us as we can partly see in the work of Desmond Morris. Whom has attempted to examine human behaviour from the point of view of a zoologist.