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Bonobos, our closest evolutionary cousins, have eliminated male sexual coercion. If a female is aggressed upon, she lets out a special cry and all other females within earshot come immediately to her defense. Women and our allies CAN DO the same, acting on The Bonobo Principle:

“Nobody harms my sister. Everybody is my sister.”

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How did law develop to elude women’s rights so consistently?


What difference does it make that we live in a patriarchal democracy? 

What do bonobos have to offer as living proof that patriarchy is not inevitable? 

How can women break down barriers among themselves to unleash their power as a unified force?

The Bonobo Sisterhood takes us through real-life stories from the courtroom to the classroom and beyond, charting a new vision of a collective self-defense among women and their allies. 

It offers an action plan accessible to everyone immediately. This is an open invitation to anyone who wants to challenge the status quo. 


It starts with the power inherent in each of us knowing that we have selves worth defending and awakening that power for ourselves and for our sisters. 

"The central idea in The Bonobo Sisterhood is that there is a need for a strong support system between human women, and that there is a successful model in the social world of bonobos. In designing the cover, I wanted to showcase the kindred relationship between bonobo females and human women while simultaneously conveying the radiant dynamics of sisterhood. Both the bonobo and the woman on the cover look directly at the viewer implying that the time is NOW to engage the world with these important ideas about sisterhood. To symbolize the strength of sisterhood I designed an unbreakable chain made out of linked female symbols. The female symbol chain also incorporates a fist to represent the revolutionary power of female alliance."

- Shepard Fairey, Book Cover Artist.

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“Rosenfeld’s tour-de-force takes the power of female alliances to a higher level, giving us a road map for a new vision of women’s equality through the relationships and bonds we form among one another. The gift of this book is that it gives us hope.”

-Valerie Jarrett, New York Times bestselling author of Finding My Voice, and former senior advisor to President Barack Obama

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Internationally renowned legal expert Diane L. Rosenfeld has made it her life’s work to address the supposedly impossible problem of patriarchal violence.

Diane Rosenfeld

Photo By John R. Boehm

Diane L. Rosenfeld, J.D., LL.M., is Founding Director of the Gender Violence Program and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.

Her breakthrough legal work, research, and arguments have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Glamour, and more. Her op-eds have been featured in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune,, and the Harvard Crimson.

She is a widely sought-after guest on various radio, television, and online programs. She has appeared on Katie Couric’s talk show to discuss campus sexual assault, on NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss the success of GPS monitoring for high-risk domestic violence offenders, on the Diane Rehm Show, Nightline, HLN, WGBH, WNPR, CNN, and several local news programs. She also appeared in the award-winning documentary, The Hunting Ground, and has lectured on the film at schools and movie theaters across the country.

She served as the first Senior Counsel to the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice and as an Executive Assistant Attorney General in Illinois. In 2007, she created and taught the first legal seminar on Title IX in the country, which continues to this day at Harvard Law School. She also advised the Obama Administration on the prevention of campus sexual assault and contributed to the Presidential Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault.

Diane is the recipient of multiple awards including the Shatter the Ceiling Award from Harvard Law School and the Ms. JD “Woman of Inspiration” Award. She is a keynote speaker and lecturer at conferences, organizations, and universities throughout the world.

Prior to teaching at Harvard Law

  • Commissioner of the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Sexual and Domestic Violence (2003-2006)

  • Co-Producer of “Rape Is…” (2002)

  • Senior Counsel of the Violence Against Women Office in the U.S. Department of Justice

  • Executive Assistant Attorney General of the State of Illinois

Ms. Rosenfeld holds her LL.M. from Harvard Law School, her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin School of Law and her B.A. with Distinction in Political Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Ms. Rosenfeld’s awards include: Ms. JD’s “Woman of Inspiration” Award (2016); “Shatter the Ceiling” and Students for Inclusion Teaching Award, Harvard Law School (2016); finalist for the Sachs-Freund Teaching Awards, Harvard Law School (2008, 2012); the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center’s “Changemaker Award” (2007); and the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center’s “Champion for Change” (2005).

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