Can I Buy You a Banana?

Fun Features, Guest Bloggers, Sex Ed

By Liz Langley

Brace yourselves: male chimps have discovered Axe Body Spray.

Well, they’ve discovered the male chimp version anyway, something designed to get feminine attention.

Choosey chimpanzees choose leaves instead of body wash as a way to get the girl’s notice (its far more economical but then, chimps don’t make that much money, probably about the same as most of us do these days). A recent New York Times reports Dr. William C McGrew of the University of Cambridge found that male chimps will clip leaves which make a noisy sound like the tearing of paper:

“He spreads his legs so the female sees the erection, and he tears the leaf bit by bit down the midvein of the leaf, dropping the pieces as he detaches them. Sometimes he’ll do half a dozen leaves until she notices.”

If, when she does notice, she likes what she sees, then they’ll mate. The long and the short of it is that chimps are using tools to acquire sex. Next think you know they’ll be going heavy on the hair product and asking females what jewelry store they got their eyes from.

So this is a tool for sex but that doesn’t mean it’s a sex tool. Chimps haven’t quite gotten the Jackrabbit stage yet…right?

Well, Dr. Susan Block’s has a picture of what she says is a bonobo chimp using a red ball as a sex toy and bonobos, whether or not they use toys for sex, definitely use sex as a tool in itself – to resolve conflict and keep the peace within the group. “The Erotic Ape,” as their known, as a sizzling hot reputation for doing it every way they can every minute or every day – and if we didn’t have to work and watch “Glee” wouldn’t we be doing the same?

The bottom line is that sex is a drive that we use all our gifts to satisfy and among primates, including us, those gifts include tool use. Last year a story about vibrator studies, by Debby Herbenick, appeared in the New York Times and opened our eyes to the mainstreaming of sex toys, who’s using them and how and in a sense this is not so different than a chimpanzee crackling a leaf in hopes of ensuring his satisfaction – it’s still the use of a tool as a means to an end. MyPleasure founder Dr. Sandor Gardos commented on that sex toy study that showed that there’s nothing unusual or embarrassing about using vibrators and about his hopes that “people will talk about what’s sexually interesting and exciting to them without fear, shame or embarrassment.”

The apes certainly don’t seem embarrassed about this perfectly natural – and really, really fun – drive, and maybe we should take a cue from them.

Though if I start seeing guys at coffee houses and in parks crackling noisy leaves in front of their spread legs and obvious erections I might just have to rethink that theory.

About Liz Langley
Liz Langley is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in about 20 publications – to see more go to

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