Though many scholars now argue that gender differences are purely a product of socialization, primatologist Frans de Waal illustrates in Different the scientific, evolutionary basis for gender differences in humans, drawing on his decades of experience working with our closest ape relatives: chimpanzees and bonobos. De Waal illuminates their behavioural and biological differences and compares and contrasts them with human behaviour: male domination and territoriality in chimpanzees and the female-led pacific society of bonobos.
In his classic conversational style and a narrative rich in anecdotes and wry observations, de Waal tackles topics including gender identity, sexuality, gender-based violence, same-sex rivalry, homosexuality, friendship, and nurturance. He reveals how evolutionary biology can inform a more nuanced – and equitable – cultural understanding of gender. Ultimately, he argues, our two nearest primate relatives are equally close to us and equally relevant. Considering all available evidence, we can learn much about ourselves and embrace our similarities as well as our differences.
Frans de Waal, author of Mama's Last Hug, is C. H. Candler Professor Emeritus of Primate Behavior at Emory University and the former director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
"A brilliant and fascinating book that brings a scientific, compassionate and balanced approach to some of the hottest controversies about sex and gender"
– Yuval Noah Harari
"Every new book by Frans de Waal is a cause for excitement, and this one is no different. A breath of fresh air in the cramped debate about the differences between men and women. Fascinating, nuanced and very timely."
– Rutger Bregman, author of Humankind
"This book is superb! Frans de Waal is not only one of the world's most respected primatologists – he's also a ballsy feminist who, in these riveting pages, ventures into territory where most writers in academia and letters fear to tread. Personally, I'm honored to be such a close relative of chimpanzees and bonobos, and eager to learn what they have to teach us about the evolution of our own behaviors. These pages are packed with great stories, fascinating data, and thought-provoking ideas. They are sure to spark the important conversations we all – male and female, queer and straight, trans and nonbinary – need to have to create a more just and equitable human society."
– Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus
"If you don't know your bonobo from your gibbon, Different has many surprises in store for you, surprises that will leave you humble about complex primate evolution has been, and how much we have yet to learn about how it shapes our lives"
– New York Times
"This enlightened book looks at the emergent arguments in gender studies. Moving with fluidity and grace between animal and human models, Frans de Waal demonstrates how many common social prejudices that we deem "natural" are in fact anything but. His crisp writing, his skillful deployment of anecdote, and his deep knowledge of animal science inform this nuanced and profound consideration not only of difference, but also of sameness"
– Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree and The Noonday Demon
"Frans de Waal's Different brings a refreshingly calm biological perspective to the current debate around human gender differences."
– Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape
"With great clarity, insight, and wit, [de Waal] examines human sex differences, never once letting us forget that, at the end of the day, we are just another kind of primate. This is a superb, intensely stimulating read"
– Robert M. Sapolsky, author of Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst
"[De Waal uses] a gift for story-telling, a sincere respect for culture, along with intimate knowledge of longtime bonobo and chimpanzee associates, to deftly negotiate this treacherous terrain. Wise and humane"
– Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, author of The Woman that Never Evolved
"Courageous [...] Quietly progressive [...] Offer[s] fascinating insights"
– Kathleen Stock, The Times
"Frans de Waal's magnum opus [...] [He] remove[s] the blinkers, and [his] readers will never see the world the same way again"
"A testament to de Waal's profound and sensitive understanding of our nearest evolutionary relatives"
– Angela Saini, Lancet Journal
"Very interesting: de Waal's often highly personal encounters with chimps and bonobos are fascinating [...] he is equally good on the blind spots of science and psychology"