First Advisor

Amy L. Schreier


Michael J. Ghedotti


Regis College

Degree Name


Department (optional)


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

80 pages


Western patriarchy sustains male-dominance and perpetuates gender inequity. While there have been great achievements toward gender equity, women are burdened to navigate a society that upholds male success. Equality offers individuals the same opportunities, but often falls short in delivering equal outcomes because of historic and systemic male privileges conserved by patriarchy. Equity, on the other hand, ensures that fair opportunities effect equal outcomes to rectify systemic injustices. To reconstruct women’s role in society, our closest living relatives, patriarchal chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and matriarchal bonobos (Pan paniscus), allow humans to compare the role of females in diverse primate social systems. Female-dominant bonobos utilize female coalitionary power to actively suppresses male dominance. Ultimately, female power allows these “hippie apes” to maintain peace. Using an inter-disciplinary approach of primatology and feminist theory, I argue that female-dominance – as observed in bonobos – promotes relational feminism, whereby women, whose perspectives are shaped by patriarchal oppression, hold significantly more power to foster equitable treatment of people regardless of their gender. Increased rates of sociosexual behavior, female coalitionary support, and affiliative intersexual relationships in matriarchal bonobos should encourage Western people to consider an imperative transformation toward female dominance.

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Location (Creation)

Denver, Colorado