Virtual Event: Frans de Waal
Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist
April 19, 2022
6:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Harvard Library welcome renowned primatologist FRANS DE WAAL for a discussion of his latest book, Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist.
Contribute to Support Harvard Book Store
While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by pre-ordering a copy of Different on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
In Different, world-renowned primatologist Frans 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 do share some behavioral differences, biology offers no justification for existing gender inequalities.
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. Chimpanzees are male-dominated and violent, while bonobos are female-dominated and peaceful. In both species, political power needs to be distinguished from physical dominance. Power is not limited to the males, and both sexes show true leadership capacities.
Different is a fresh and thought-provoking approach to the long-running debate about the balance between nature and nurture, and where sex and gender roles fit in. De Waal peppers his discussion with details from his own life—a Dutch childhood in a family of six boys, his marriage to a French woman with a different orientation toward gender, and decades of academic turf wars over outdated scientific theories that have proven hard to dislodge from public discourse. He discusses sexual orientation, gender identity, and the limitations of the gender binary, exceptions to which are also found in other primates.
With humor, clarity, and compassion, Different seeks to broaden the conversation about human gender dynamics by promoting an inclusive model that embraces differences, rather than negating them.
Praise for Different
"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, New York Times best-selling author of Sapiens
"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 . . . 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
"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
The Harvard Science Book Talks series is a collaboration between the Harvard University Division of Science, the Harvard Library, and Harvard Book Store. The series features talks by the authors of recently published books on a variety of science-related topics and is open to both the Harvard community and to the general public. Typically, lectures are followed by a book signing with the author and refreshments. Learn more and watch recordings of past talks here.
We currently require face masks at Harvard Book Store and at our events. Thanks for your understanding!Learn More »
Tote bags and pouches
in a variety of styles,
sizes, and designs, plus mugs, bookmarks, and more!
Shipping & Pickup
We ship anywhere in the U.S. and orders of $75+ ship free via media mail!Learn More »
Noteworthy Signed Books: Join the Club!
Join our Signed First Edition Club (or give a gift subscription) for a signed book of great literary merit, delivered to you monthly.Learn More »