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Studium Generale lecture | Frans de Waal | Different: What Apes Can Teach Us About Gender

Wanneer:ma 13-06-2022 20:00 - 21:30
Waar:Aletta Jacobs Hall, Blauwborgje 4, Groningen

Is gender a human social construct or are there also learned gender roles in great apes? On the basis of his observations in great apes, primatologist Frans de Waal speaks about gender and sex in animals and humans. Using chimpanzees and bonobos to illustrate this point—two ape relatives that are genetically equally close to humans—de Waal challenges widely held beliefs about masculinity and femininity, and common assumptions about authority, leadership, cooperation, competition, filial bonds, and sexual behavior. What gender roles are found in the animal kingdom and how do those roles come about? Can we humans learn something from gender in animals?

Frans de Waal is a world-renowned biologist and professor of psychology at Emory University in Atlanta. He wrote a number of books related to his work as a primatologist, some of his best-selling books include Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape, The Age of Empathy and Mama’s Last Hug. In his most recent book Different: What Apes Can Teach Us About Gender (2022), De Waal draws on decades of observation and studies of both human and animal behavior to argue that despite the linkage between gender and biological sex, biology does not automatically support the traditional gender roles in human societies. While humans and other primates exhibit some behavioral differences between the sexes, biology offers no justification for existing gender inequalities.

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