Bonobos: our pansexual cousins

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at how societies might have been structured before the development of agriculture.  Clearly, we can’t directly study the human groups that existed outside Africa between 50,000 and 5,000 years ago, because they no longer exist. So I  also looked at relatives of humans, particularly our closest, bonobos, Pan paniscus.

Our ancestors left very little evidence. Although they did use stone and bone, a great deal of their artefacts were made of wood or leather and were perishable. The few that we do have are somewhat mysterious.

To try to shed light on this, we reviewed a wide range of anthropological literature. We especially concentrated on extant traditional societies, of which there are a surprising number, despite the attempts by religious fundamentalists, especially the Christian and Muslim ones, to eradicate them. (As a matter of fact, Islam has been less damaging to many traditional societies than Christianity, as we see from the number of traditional groups still living, and respected, in Indonesia.)

We reviewed the mythology that was recorded soon after the invention of writing, in Sumer in the 5th Millennium BCE. We then compared this to modern mythologies which form part of traditional cultures. We also looked at similar species, and that’s where bonobos came in.


Continue reading “Bonobos: our pansexual cousins”

Marriage Equality and the Decline of Religiosity

marriage-equality-church-in-declineIn western Europe, the Americas and elsewhere, a revolution has taken place over the last few years.

Go back 200 years and we in the West were hanging gay men; a hundred years ago, more or less, we locked up Oscar Wilde for being gay and fifty years ago one of the greatest geniuses, ever, to have been born in the United Kingdom, Alan Turing, was forced to undergo chemical castration and driven to suicide, just for being gay.

Yet today, we celebrate gayness. When a State solemnises a marriage, it gives validation to that marriage, and the couple undertaking it, in the name of every citizen of that State. It is saying, ‘We the people approve of and celebrate your love, and we wish you both the greatest of happiness.’ It places all the authority and approval of the State on that marriage, in our names.

So we have, in fifty years or less, gone from persecuting and imprisoning or mutilating gays, to absolutely supporting them.

What does this tell us? Continue reading “Marriage Equality and the Decline of Religiosity”

Somos Todos Veronica #somostodosveronica

Veronica Bolina after her beatings by Brazilian police

Todos Somos Veronica

This weekend Veronica Bolina, a transwoman from Sao Paulo in Brazil, was savagely beaten, probably three times, by police while in custody. Her face was smashed to a pulp and she was rendered unrecognisable. Her breasts were exposed in public and her long hair was shaved off. And then she was forced to recite a ‘confession’ that it was all her own fault.

Now I suppose we could suggest that Veronica was lucky; at least 113 transwomen were slain in Brazil last year alone, making it the trans-murder capital of the world. And the Brazilian police are the most deadly on the planet, killing at least 11,000 citizens every year. (For comparison, this is around 50 times the rate at which US police kill.)

It’s time we all stood up and said ‘stop’. It’s time we said that every time some transphobic bigot attacks a transperson he – or she, for sadly there is no shortage of female bigotry, at least on this topic – that person attacks us, personally.

The simple fact is that in not standing up and denouncing the bigots, we give them sanction to act as they do. Every time anyone laughs at a transphobic joke, or posts a cartoon drawing of a woman saying ‘warning, may contain nuts’, or sniggers at some ‘how to spot a ladyboy’ video, that person is contributing to the killing of transpeople. Actively. Contributing. To. Murder. Continue reading “Somos Todos Veronica #somostodosveronica”