The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace Through Pleasure is a breath of fresh air in a world set ablaze by the fires of misogyny and war. Written by international sex expert, and Yale graduate, Dr. Susan Block, her book is a manifesto to female empowerment and inclusivity that is inspired by our other great ape cousins, the bonobos—also known as Pan Paniscus. According to Dr. Block, these endangered primates have a lot to teach humanity and what they can teach could save your sex life, if not the world.
At the book’s core, it is a call to action, a seductive moan from a lover’s ear to put down the toys of war, and instead, learn the ways of pleasure. From the jungle to the bedroom, this book is an arousing spotlight on sexuality as we know it and offers hope for the hapless. Block’s narrative is an (s)exploration into human nature that is complete with orgasmic anecdotes, tales of lust, love, trust, relationships goals, power exchanges and much more.
What is most appealing about this book is the inclusiveness of Dr. Block’s narratives, she provides practical relationship tools—for the monogamous, the bi-curious, the polyamorous, as well as full-fledged swingers—with a tone that is inviting, uplifting, supportive, affirming, and most of all, relatable. The steps she lays out are useful for solo and partnered relationships, covering matters of intimacy, tips for role-play, BDSM as well as sexual etiquette. The information is presented as a twelve step guide dubbed “How to Release Your Inner Bonobo.” The step-work includes strategies for awakening the dormant inner bonobo that is in each of us.
With anecdotes from Dr. Block’s journal, references to world news, politics, porn, ecological conservation and various cultures, reading each step pleasurable. Moreover, her personality squirts through the ink with each flip of the page. Throughout the book, Block’s narratives bring the concept of “peace through pleasure” to life as she contrasts the damaging effects of chimpish behavior to the restorative power of bonboesque sisterhood.
The appeal of The Bonobo Way is that the message intersects with the values of ecological advocates, politicians, animal rights activists, military veterans, porn stars, feminists, dommes, as well as people along the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. On a textual level, the book is an exploration in eco-feminism, with Dr. Block’s own environment of expertise highlighted: Her Bonoboville Speakeasy in Downtown Los Angeles, complete with a broadcast bed, lights, cameras, and plenty of action.
Block’s bond to the bonobos is never far from the surface of the text; from a first introduction to the species while watching a PBS special in bed with her husband Max, to an inter-species meeting with Lana at the San Diego Zoo in Southern California, Dr. Block’s advocacy to preserve the endangered bonobos who “empower the female” and “never kill each other” is reinforced as she cites their capacity for empathy, compassion, and sexual prowess. She reminds the reader that due to environmental encroachment, through poaching and war, this emotionally intelligent (EQ) species could face extinction. “Save the bonobos, Save the world” says she write in her 12th step.
As a piece of literature, The Bonobo Way is a multifaceted exploration into ecological advocacy and sexual self-help. The preservation of the bonobos and conservation of their bioregion is coupled with a call to action to repair our relationship with our “over-farmed and abused mother earth” (83). Block’s research and observations are comparable to that of Christopher Ryan Ph.D (Sex At Dawn) and Vanessa Woods (Bonobo Handshake), while the sexual anecdotes peppered throughout the text stimulate the senses without over-spicing narrative for the reader. The fusion of both the ecological and the sexual is really what makes this an outstanding book.
The book is not just an addition to your library or nightstand, it is an investment into your sex life. At 240 pages it is available in print and eBook– the latter includes full color photos. Other features of the book are Dr. Block’s notes, which vary from “hat tips” to writers and rock stars, to supplemental information on clinical and “scene” terms, as well as vital socio-historical references. For those inspired to take action, the appendix of The Bonobo Way provides a list of sites and organizations that are dedicated to helping the bonobos, and a list of zoos, reserves, sanctuaries where bonobos can be seen. #GoBonobos!