Studium Generale | Lecture
How different are men and women? Are differences due to nature or nurture? And how do other primates acquire their gender identities and behaviors? World-renowned primatologist Frans de Waal draws on decades of observation and studies of both human and animal behavior to argue that despite the link between gender and biological sex, biology does not automatically support humans’ traditional gender roles. Nor does it justify our history of gender inequalities.
De Waal describes studies done with chimpanzees and bonobos—both of whom are genetically close to humans—that challenge widely held beliefs about masculinity and femininity and common assumptions about authority, leadership, cooperation, competition, filial bonds, and sexual behavior. Among both the chimpanzee and bonobo species—the former, male-dominated and violent; the latter, female-dominated and peaceful—political power is distinguished from physical dominance. And the capacity for leadership is not limited to either species’ male members.
Frans de Waal is a Dutch/American biologist and primatologist known for his work on the behavior and social intelligence of primates. His popular books have made him one of the world's most visible primatologists. His latest two books are Mama’s Last Hug (2019) and Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist (2022)