- Frans de Waal
How different are men and women? Is gender uniquely human or do other primates also learn gendered roles? Drawing
on decades of observing other primates, especially our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, world
renowned primatologist Frans de Waal explores what we know of biological sex differences and of the role of culture and
socialization, and argues that gender goes beyond a social construct.
From why the sexes evolved their differences to the misunderstanding that females lack dominance and leadership in
primate groups; from maternal and paternal behaviour to sexual orientation, gender identity and the limitations of the
gender binary, de Waal analyses our shared evolutionary history with the apes. Where chimpanzees are male dominated
and violent, bonobos are ruled by females, peaceful, and have multiple sex partners. The contrast between them opens
up a new understanding of humans, as we consider what is similar and what sets us apart. Male and female networking
groups, sexual signals, transgenderism and maternal bonds map closely to their behaviour, but humans stand apart in the
development of nuclear families, the prevalence of sexual violence and joint parental care.
With expert insight and engaging storytelling, de Waal not only sets right gendered biases that have grown up in the
scientific community, but delivers a fresh and thought-provoking understanding of the behavioural norms and the many
remarkable potentials of the human species.