In Bonobo culture, male and female bonobo have separate but equal status, but it has been argued that the female bonobo may be even more powerful than the male. In Bonobo society, the mother is very important. Female bonobo leave their natal group approximately seven years of age and join another group where she will mate with all the males. Females gain rank with age and by producing offspring. The female bonobo dominates the social environment of a group so a male can only become alpha male of a group after he has been approved by the highest ranking female.


Sexual activity within the bonobo society has many more purposes than just reproduction. Members of a group will engage in sexual acts with same or different sex bonobo for the purpose of kinship, excitement, stress reduction, tension reduction, or reconciliation. The most common form of sexual activity is GG rubbing, which occurs between two females. This allows females to create and maintain tight bonds with each other in order to keep power away from males and prevent them from stealing food from females.

The highly promiscuous behavior of the bonobo results in the great cooperation and less often seen acts of aggression in a bonobo community. Constant sexual activity between all members within a community creates a bond that increases the likelihood of cooperation between individuals. For example, females seeking food have a much higher likelihood of receiving food from a male after copulation.

A bonobo community often splits up into smaller groups to forage for food. They often share the food with each other, and gather with the entire group to create the nesting area where they will sleep. They sleep together in a large group with look outs. Their cooperation protects them from predators while they sleep.