Malcolm Jones & the Women of the Bonobo Way Female Empowerment Outreach Project
As we wind up the first official Year of the Bonobo 2015, we’re happy to say the new Bonobo Way Female Empowerment Outreach Project is making great strides on mini and macro levels, thanks to start-up funding provided by philanthropist, environmentalist and investor, Malcolm Jones. In addition to being an investor, Mal is an inventor, as well as a social and political activist who has supported the women’s movement for decades.
When a fellow male feminist recommended The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure, Mal, already quite a bonobo buff, found himself reading and (even though he might not agree with every word) resonating to the story, the science and the possibilities.
The Bonobo Way of Female Empowerment
In a sense, Mal stumbled upon his vision of female empowerment scampering through the jungles of The Bonobo Way. Studies have shown that bonobo females are respected and empowered by the males and other females far more than any other great ape culture, and this female empowerment appears to be intrinsic to the extraordinary bonobo ability to make “peace through pleasure,” keeping rape levels low and murder and war nonexistent in their communities.
In a word, females “rule” Bonoboville, gently but firmly… keeping the males gentle and firm.
How do they do this, since the males are larger, stronger and sport fangs? Bonobo female solidarity is the key to their empowerment. Indeed, their sense of “sisterhood” is all the more remarkable since bonobo females in the same tribe aren’t even, for the most part, actual sisters or blood-related. Their intense bonds are forged through the sexual relations of hoka-hoka (genito-genital rubbing), as well as the intimacies of complex friendships and erotic political alliances, all of which are integral to the Bonobo Way of peace through pleasure.
Mal’s Investment in the Future
In mid-August, Mal called our office to order more copies of the book for friends and family. Such a nice big order is enough to get us doing backflips here in our human “Bonoboville,” a community of artists, sex therapists and technologists in LA.
But a few days later, an even more empowering surprise arrived in an unassuming envelope: a generous cash gift that was also an investment, a portion of which I could keep or spend however I liked and the rest of which Mal asked me to distribute to other individual women, as well as a cause, to be voted upon by all the women involved.
“I am seeking to be useful in the world,” Mal wrote in his letter accompanying the check. “I hope to encourage responsible behavior regarding the future of humankind. Currently, I think that one good way to do this is to empower women. The bottom line, as I see it, is that having survived millennia of male domination of our species, it’s women’s turn to take on the world.”
As Mal’s letter stated, any woman could receive the gift (a $100 bill in a sealed envelope), the only selection requirement being that she open the envelope in person. Mal suggested we gather all the women together in one place at one time, never an easy task for busy ladies; getting them into our studio one, two or three at a time proved far more practical for our circumstances. Fortunately, Mal’s “plan” was inherently flexible, as he acknowledged, if women are to “take on the world,” we ought to be “allowed” to distribute his investment as we see fit.
What a tremendous gift, opportunity, pleasure, responsibility and challenge all rolled up into one plain white envelope!
“Women’s Moon” Kick-Off
We commenced the project on the night of the August Supermoon, 2015. The big silvery globe of summer’s end beamed over our little human Bonoboville in all “her” radiant glory, ecosexual mystery and feminine power. This massive August moon was not just full as the belly of a pregnant woman; it was also at “perigee,” the moment when la luna (“the moon” en español) is closest to Earth in its orbit, making it appear even larger; thus the term supermoon.
Super or just a sliver, the August moon has many names. The Great Lakes Native American tribes call it the Sturgeon Moon; Colonial Americans, the Dog Day’s Moon; and the neo-pagans, the Lightening Moon. Most relevant to female empowerment, the Native American Choctaw identify the August moon as the Women’s Moon.
No matter what the month, that astral chunk of rock twirling around Earth is often characterized as a “woman,” its regular 28-day cycle closely matching the human female menstrual cycle. Many ancient cultures believed the moon to be a “triple goddess,” reflective of all the stages of a woman’s life, in her three incarnations of maiden, mother and crone, matched with the lunar phases of new, full, and old moons. The moon is the shadow side of the sun, a mirror reflecting its light, turning its golden radiance to silvery mystery. It is the dark yin to the sun’s bright yang, often representing the spooky secrets within our souls, including our fear of female power. Frightening feminine mystery is often visualized as a witch flying “over the moon” on her phallic broom. Many real women accused of “witchcraft,” often widows, crones, healers, bella donnas, madams and midwives who helped other women in ways that men could not or would not, have been persecuted, shamed, disempowered, raped and murdered by men, other women, governments, armies and religions throughout several thousand years of human civilization.
And so on this auspicious night of the Women’s Supermoon, we began the Bonobo Way Female Empowerment Outreach Project, giving the “Mal Awards” to three different women, the purpose being to financially and spiritually empower them to pursue their passions and goals.
Dayton, Leilani and Helane
Dayton Rains, artist, performer and naturist from Northern California, brought her well-marked personal copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and many gifts, including some she made herself. But really, her greatest gift to Bonoboville—and me—was and is her vibrant beauty, inside and out, so I was more than delighted to give the first gift to her. When she tore open the envelope and found Mal’s crisp Benjamin Franklin, a dazzling smile spread across her face as she declared that she would give it to her local battered women’s shelter. She also expressed her great passion for the Bonobo Way, which she began to study after hearing me talk about it on a radio show a few weeks before.
Leilani Lei, another enthusiastic new Bonobo Way buff, as well as a very bonoboësque artist and naturist, left her buttoned-up job in the corporate world to follow her bliss in Hawaii. The Dakota Sioux call the August full moon the “Moon When All Things Ripen,” and every inch of this graceful grandmother is as all-natural as a ripe organic peach. Even her hair is as naturally silver as the moon, and she glowed with good nature as she accepted Mal’s gift, “seed money” for her new business. Mahalo Leilani!
The third recipient was the extremely talented artist, Helane Freeman, whom we have known since 2010. Having drawn likenesses of many dignitaries, celebrities and Disney characters, from Johnny Depp to yours truly and Max as bonobos, as well as the amiable and wise-looking bonobo who graces our website, Helane recently published an impressive new book, A Drawing a Day, and she was grateful to put Mal’s c-spot towards developing her new non-profit art project.
Though each of the women has her personal passions and goals, all three agreed that the best cause for the “extra” funding was to help save the real bonobos from extinction and to share the Bonobo Way of peace through pleasure and female empowerment around the world, especially since, in a way, it was the bonobos who brought us all together.
What About the Guys?
Lest any man reading this get nervous, let me reassure him that so-called “man-hating feminism” is anathema to the Bonobo Way. Though direction and discipline is sometimes meted out by the “sisterhood,” especially if a bonobo male makes the mistake of attacking a female, for the most part, bonobo females adore and dote on all their tribe’s males, young and old, and love to flirt and play with visiting males from other tribes.
Among bonobos, female empowerment tends to be as good for the guys as it is for the gals. Studies show that bonobo males are likely to live longer, retain greater youthful vitality, and have a lot more quality sex than their common chimpanzee counterparts who start out just as boyish and relaxed as bonobos, but rapidly “grow up” into stressed out, grumpy old apes.
This also appears to be true among humans, as Capt’n Max and other happy bonoboësque men enthusiastically attest.
Chelsea & Biz
And so, the Bonobo Way Female Empowerment Outreach Project springs into existence or, more seasonably, falls into place. Just before Fall, we held our next gathering, on Labor Day, an ironically huge retail sale weekend, meaning that many laborers employed in the retail sector—which makes up over 24% of all U.S. jobs, more than half of whom are filled by women—not only have to labor on Labor Day, but they tend to work longer hours.
Considering the holiday’s inherent, anti-working-female hypocrisy, we opted to read between the lines—and lips—to find a similar, onomatopoetic, but far more bonoboësque and female-empowered name for this quasi-day-off from the daily grind. Thus Labor Day became “Labia Day,” and a great, new holiday blossomed like a Georgia O’Keeffe hothouse flower in the verdant Garden of Bonoboville.
It being Labor Day weekend, it felt right to gift two of the ladies laboring mightily throughout the week as therapists of the Dr. Susan Block Institute in Bonoboville: Chelsea Demoiselle and Elizabeth, aka “Biz,” Aston. Both Chelsea and Biz share our passion for bonobos, but they also spoke about their other, more personal passions. Chelsea loves set design and raw vegan foods, and Biz, a singer and sexual abuse survivor, talked about her desire to help other women through trauma and strife.
As they opened the “labia” of their envelopes and discovered the treasures hidden within, the congregation cheered Amen and Awomen.
The next recipient was Jeanie Marie, stunning actress and glamour model decked out in shiny black patent Christian Louboutin peep-toe stiletto high heels with signature red-lacquered bottoms, a little black couture dress trimmed in ostrich feathers and artfully applied crimson glitter lipstick with matching eye shadow, plus more sparkles spangling her high cheekbones.
More than just a shiny fashion plate, Jeanie’s artistic passion is to create adult films that convey the beauty of women. When we gave her one of our beautiful plain white envelopes containing her gift from the Bonobo Way Female Empowerment Outreach Project, she declared her newfound passion for the beauty of bonobos, second only to red-bottom shoes.
Sabine Lichtenfels of Tamera
On September’s Supermoon Eve, at the cusp of a total lunar eclipse, we welcomed a different kind of luminosity into Bonoboville, a human beacon of light illuminating peace through pleasure on Earth. Sabine Lichtenfels, a visionary “global peace ambassador,” is one of the original founders of TAMERA, the “healing biotope,” a very bonoboësque human community located in Portugal. Forged in the fire of anti-war fervor and the sexual revolution, the “village” of Tamera was conceived in Germany in 1978 and founded in southern Portugal in 1995 on principles of peace, trust, ecology and “free love.” Today 170 people live, love and work in Tamera, connected with its growing international network and base stations in Israel-Palestine, Colombia, Brazil, Kenya and other countries, each an interconnected part of Terra Nova, the global platform for their mission of peace.
Sabine’s magical visit to Bonoboville was thanks to the international bonoboësque matchmaking skills of Dr. SerenaGaia Anderlini D’Onofrio, co-editor of Ecosexuality: When Nature Inspires the Arts of Love, the sumptuous new collection of essays, poetry and prayers, to which I wrote the foreword. Sabine’s essay in Ecosexuality is entitled, “Lilith’s Words: I Love Being a Woman.”
For us, Tamera is like a petri dish that shows that the principles of the Bonobo Way can work quite well within a fairly large human population of agreeable individuals, if the conditions are right. The experiment is still underway, but that’s no reason not to take the good news to the next global level.
One big shift in the way we humans think of ourselves is that many of us are now turning from the old “killer ape” paradigm of institutionalized murder and male dominance to the new “Bonobo Way” of peace through pleasure and female empowerment. At the start of 2015, Dr. SerenaGaia joined me in declaring this the first Year of the Bonobo, and throughout these months, we and many others have gathered together in solidarity with the ecosexuality movement, the bonobos and our fellow peace-through-pleasure-minded humans. Love is in the air, along with paradigm change.
Where does Sabine find the courage to pursue her revolutionary vision? In part, from her dreams of Lilith, Eros and other archetypes. The name “Tamera” itself, said to mean “Original Source,” came to Sabine in a dream. She calls it an “acupuncture point of peace” for healing the civilized world of its greed and destruction, military murder and corporate mayhem. And she doesn’t just talk about it; she walks the talk, often quite literally, traveling to some of the worst, war-ravaged, poverty-stricken, drought-ridden places. Her visit to Bonoboville occurred in the midst of a “Walking Water” pilgrimage that started in the Owens Valley (one source of LA’s water) and took her by foot all the way to Los Angeles, as she and her associates studied the landscape and met with indigenous people concerning their project, “Restoring Water and Healing Love as Keys for a New Culture.” According to Tamera, “What water is to nature, love is to humanity.”
Sabine’s mission and passion are one and the same, to share her love with the world. So it was with deep pleasure and profound admiration that I passed the envelope to this Mother Teresa of Free Love, and then I basked in the merriment of her eyes, bright as the supermoon, as she opened it. I hope to give and share much more with this great lady and her inspirational bonoboësque community.
Dr. Patti & Hudsy Hawn
Our next gathering honored Dr. Patti Britton, clinical sexologist, Sex Coach University co-founder, author of The Art of Sex Coaching and one of my editors on the Wiley-Blackwell International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality. It being “Kink Month (October),” we also gifted Ms. Hudsy Hawn, one of the world’s foremost consensual “kink” experts, featured in Cosmo, Playboy, Buzzfeed, E! Specials “The Real 50 Shades of Grey” and “Secret Societies of Hollywood,” not to mention twice on A&E’s Storage Wars. A chanteuse, Hudsy sang an excerpt from her one-woman-show, The Mermaid Diaries: Beneath the Covers, for us. Dr. Patti was accompanied by about a dozen of her Sex Coach University students who cheered as we gave both ladies their “Mal Awards.”
What a pleasure to share this simple, “useful” gift and investment in female empowerment with these two bonoboësque ladies who empower so many others in the realm of sexuality and kink education. It was also a surprise treat just to bring Hudsy and Dr. Patti together; though they had been corresponding for years, their first in-person meeting was right in Bonoboville.
Bringing great women together is one of the goals of the Bonobo Way Female Empowerment Outreach Project. Both are very excited about the Bonobo Way (Dr. Patti wrote a rave review) and agreed that the remaining portion of the gift money should be used to help save the wild bonobos from extinction.
In the midst of the Holiday “Season of Giving,” we gave Gift #10 to one of the most giving ladies we know. Alexandra Silk, a.k.a. “Silky”, is an adult star, perhaps best-known as “The Bailiff” on Playboy TV’s “Sex Court with Judge Julie” and winner of our “Mother Teresa of Sex” award in 2014. She’s also a director, producer and Showtime TV consultant developing female-empowering, sex-positive programming, as well as an IPSA-trained sex surrogate and bonobo lover, now studying for her Ph.D. at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (one of my alma maters).
We’re not sure who gets more pleasure—Silky from receiving the gift or me from giving it (I feel like Mrs. Santa Claus), but there’s nothing like an evergreen Benjie to bring out the smiles around the holidays.
When I asked her what she might do with the money, she paused for a moment to think before replying, “Buy a nice big dildo,” eliciting a warm laugh from the group. “But I’ll share it with everyone,” she added with her signature bonoboësque generosity.
Female empowerment takes many forms. One woman gave her gift to a victims’ shelter, another seeded her art project, and another bought a dildo. All of it is empowering!
As per Mal’s suggestion, we polled each of the women participating (thus far) in the project regarding what they would like to do with the rest of “the investment.” Though each had her own pet projects and causes, all concurred that the female-empowered bonobos present a new great ape paradigm for humanity that supports the value and efficacy of women exercising greater authority in all relationships, private and public, at every level of human society. Maybe it was partly because they were gathering in a place called “Bonoboville,” but all agreed that a large portion of the gift should go to help the bonobos.
No doubt, funding is needed in many areas of bonobo studies, educational programs and promotional projects like the Bonobo Way itself. But the greatest, most dire emergency our bonobo sisters and brothers are facing is imminent extinction via poaching. Bonobos are native only to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country that rarely makes headline news, though for over two decades, it has suffered some of the bloodiest wars on Earth since World War II. Called Zaire under the corrupt 32-year reign of the infamous old leopard-capped dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, the current DRC is the formerly enslaved nation of the Congo that was essentially a fiefdom of King Leopold of Belgium, who turned this vast, resource-rich country into his own private, personally aggrandizing “Heart of Darkness,” the devastating effects of which still handicap it today. The bloody, complicated wars in and around the DRC must be understood in the context of its history of ruthless exploitation by Europe, the United States and, more recently, China. In other words, this is not just an “African problem,” but an international crisis.
And the world’s only wild bonobos are literally caught in the crossfire.
The fallout from wars in neighboring countries, notably Rwanda, contributes to the devastation of the bonobos’ natural habitat in the world’s second largest rainforest, as does the logging industry and the mining of diamonds, gold, granite, coltan (a vital component in our phones) and many other precious minerals. But the worst, most immediate, lethal danger to wild bonobos is poaching. Not only is human commerce destroying their natural habitat, but human hunters are literally killing bonobos one by one, sometimes slaughtering a whole tribe in one horrific bloodbath. Though it’s against Congolese law, the criminal massacre of bonobos and other endangered species for “bushmeat” continues.
Besides shooting mature bonobos, poachers also capture the babies, usually the sons and daughters of the adults that they’ve killed. Since these infants and toddlers don’t have much meat on their tiny bones, the hunters try to sell them to wildlife traffickers, disreputable zoos or ignorant animal fans who can’t properly care for them, letting most of these “pets” suffer, sicken and die. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and others, the current risk of extinction for bonobos is extremely high.
Despite this grim situation, hope is on the rainforest horizon in the form of some hard-working conservationists, including several great women. Chief among them is Claudine André, the charismatic savior of orphans, a French-Belgian native who spent most of her life in the Congo where she raised a family of five before she discovered and fell in love with her extended family of fellow apes.
I call her “Saint Joan of the Bonobos.” Like Joan of Arc, Claudine (featured in The Bonobo Way as well as Vanessa Woods’ intensely moving memoir, Bonobo Handshake) is a born leader, combining tough “masculine” assertiveness with deep “feminine” warmth and a boundless desire to help others. But unlike the martyred Saint Joan, Claudine is a survivor. She’s been through wars, lootings and massacres. She saw her house ransacked by rebels who, moments before, had slaughtered her next-door neighbors, but left Claudine and her family alive when she and her husband Victor graciously invited them to take everything, even stripping the pipes from the walls. Through it all, Claudine swings like an alpha mama bonobo from one crisis to another, sheltering the weak and commandeering the strong, a halo of sunset-red hair framing her pretty but purposeful face, as she saves one bonobo after another, each with very individual needs, from sickness, trauma, despondency and death.
In one of the great positive ironies of Congolese history, the land Claudine and her crew transformed into an oasis for orphaned bonobos was once the tyrant Mobutu’s favorite weekend getaway. She named it Lola Ya Bonobo, which means “Bonobo Paradise” in Lingala, a true sanctuary where she and her staff of “Mamas” expertly nurture these sick, starving and traumatized little refugees (most of whom have recently witnessed their mothers’ murders) until they are healthy and strong enough to be released back into the wild through Claudine’s Ekolo ya Bonobo (“Land of the Bonobos”) program.
Max and I have supported Lola ya Bonobo with $20-per-month donations, “adopting” various orphans and watching them heal, grow and sometimes get released back to the wild, for well over a decade. This year, thanks to Mal Jones and the unanimous endorsement of the ladies of the Bonobo Way Female Empowerment Outreach Project, we were able to send $1000.00 to Lola ya Bonobo. Woohoo!
We are thrilled to report that the money is being well-spent on much-needed radio collars for the newly released bonobos in Ekolo ya Bonobo, so the Lola staff can monitor their movements, as well as supporting the educational programs that bring students to Lola and providing food for hungry bonobo orphans.
There is so much more that Lola needs to continue the life and species-saving work they are doing for the bonobos, and we ask everyone who cares about female empowerment, peace through pleasure and creating a better, more sustainable society to give what they can, whether it’s just $20 a month to “adopt” a baby bonobo or the thousands that were needed to build a baby bonobo playground, donated by legendary actress, sex icon and openhearted animal lover Brigitte Bardot.
The Bonobo Way Movement
Thanks to Mal’s vision and gift, as well as many other gifts of different kinds from growing numbers of readers and supporters, the Bonobo Way has become a “movement.” Ethical hedonists, environmentalists, ecosexuals, pro-sex feminists, peace activists, porn stars, sexperts, fetishists, polyamorists, BDSM’ers, femdom fans, witches, healers, swingers, animal lovers, celebrities and more are starting to embrace the bonobo as our close cousin, an erotic inspiration, a species well-worth saving from extinction and a new “peace through pleasure” great ape paradigm for humanity. Recently, Anderson Cooper visited Lola ya Bonobo on 60 Minutes. Many distinguished authors, artists, peace activists and feminists from all over the world have expressed their support for the Bonobo Way, from pioneering feminist artist, Dr. Betty Dodson, to former ambassador to the U.S. from Pakistan, Senator Sherry Rehman, all part of an ever-expanding list of individuals and communities, some of whom joined us back in January of 2015 to declare the first Year of the Bonobo, with many more catching bonobo fever as we spread the word.
And to think what started as a hung-over New Year’s Resolution is really making a difference in the realms of peace, sexual freedom and female empowerment, thanks to some amazing great apes of both our species. Looking back on this exciting year, we’ve seen many of our wishes come true. But our work and play is far from done, so 2016 here we come: Year of the Bonobo, Round 2. #GoBonobos in 2016!
Cheers to another great Year of the (Female-Empowered) Bonobo and the human possibility of peace, through pleasure.
© December 27, 2015. Susan Block, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Suzy,” is a world renowned LA sex therapist, author of The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure and horny housewife, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. For speaking engagements, call 310-568-0066.