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Man Or Bear

photo of grizzly bear
Photo by Gregory Rogers on

Have you seen the man vs. bear debate? It’s a viral sensation that started on TikTok with a video in which women were asked whether they’d rather be stuck in the woods with a man or a bear. Almost all women chose the bear.

I’d choose the bear, too.

I had a very interesting conversation with Dale about this and it took him a while to understand because initially he thought I meant I’d choose the bear over him. Or over a friend that’s a man. Once I put the emphasis on a strange man, he understood more clearly. From what I’ve read, many men understand the question best when they are asked whether they’d rather have their daughter encounter a strange man in the woods or a bear. And the men chose the bear in that scenario.

I have lots of thoughts about that . . . because if men recognize that some of them are a threat to women then why don’t more men call out bad behavior? That’s a post for another day, I think.

But, back to the original question. It seems that women feel that, while both encounters are potentially dangerous, the emotional impact of being attacked by a bear is better than being attacked (or worse) by a man. And the comments are quite insightful.

  • The worst a bear can do is kill me.
  • The bear won’t torture me before killing me.
  • If I was attacked by a bear and survived, people would believe me.
  • If I was attacked by a bear, no one would ask what I was wearing that provoked the bear.
  • If I was attacked by a bear, no one would say “I know that bear and that bear wouldn’t do that.”
  • If a bear attacked me, the bear would be euthanized and not praised.

And it goes on.

Now. Let’s be clear. This is hypothetical and the intent is to start discussion, which it has certainly done. But it speaks to just how deep the fear goes for women in this world. The fear instilled in many of us from our earliest days. The fear of violence and assault and more. Studies show that 1 in 3 women has been the victim of violence at the hands of a man. That means that we probably all know someone who has lived through something terrible and that right there is why we choose the bear.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Lots of food for thought. Men are certainly much stronger, but often women are smarter. Bears have every advantage, so it is game over if you meet a grizzly in the woods. So, I might pick the man. I think statistically that you have a better chance of getting out of the woods in one piece with a man. All men aren’t rapists and murderers, but all bears run on instinct. Yes, men are scary, but so are bears!

  2. The Bear. Period. There is a greater chance the bear would NOT attack you, the odds are not that good for the man.

    Steve and I had this conversation as well… and he absolutely does not get it at all. Not even when I put it in any other ways at all. (Proving my point that it is all men, until all men no longer are the threat.)

    This has provided some really amazing threads on the social media FKA Twitter… eye-opening, heart-wrenching.

  3. Hoo boy. We’ve had a lot of discussions about this question, too! I think it’s an excellent “discussion-starter” — and especially for the men in your life — because the playing field just isn’t level for men and women. And most men don’t SEE that because most men don’t experience that (and I am most definitely talking about white men here). Random man vs. bear when I’m alone in the woods? I’m hoping I never have to make that choice. But I hope more men start understanding why we even need to think about it/talk about it.

  4. This is definitely food for thought. The options are scary. The odds of the man hurting you could be 50/50. If you were not killed but molested, could you live with the aftermath? If you choose the bear, you would definitely be killed. So the question here is: Do you want to live or die?

  5. I was immediately reminded of my dad’s behavior when he was a runner. He’s not a big imposing guy, but a thoughtful one. He always ran in the early morning before heading to school to teach. If he found himself coming up on a female on his run, he would cross the street as soon as he realized it so as not to stress her. I think his work as a teacher helped his awareness. I admit, I’d be wary of either in the forest, especially if I was alone.

  6. I think most men totally miss the point on this one. I do think some women also miss the point, sadly. Maybe they’re the lucky one that hasn’t been a victim, or perhaps they have come to believe the narrative that it is somehow our own fault. Either way, I love that this has people talking about the issue, and hopefully it brings a change in attitudes.

  7. This is a tough one for me if I try to look at statistics. I will probably be left alone by a random bear in the woods, but there are certain situations where I won’t (she’s got cubs, the bear is ill, I’ve surprised her, etc.). The same could most likely be said about a random man, so I can’t really choose. So I would be wary of both of them and carry bear spray. The point of this is to show how women are afraid of men and it has surprised me how few men understand why. I’m pretty sure a bear is not going to sexually harass me and I’m also sure that most of us know from experience that we can’t say the same thing about a random man.

  8. I have daughters who spend time in the wilderness, often alone. I haven’t asked, but I’m going to guess that they’d pick the bear. It would be scary to encounter a bear in the woods, but they know the threat and know what to do/how to respond. I can picture Maddy in the kitchen excitedly telling/showing us how to “make yourself big” (and loud) to scare off a bear. That’s not always gonna work, but I KNOW they have a far better chance of scaring off a bear than they do a man.

    It’s chilling.

  9. I’m going with bear–a bear belongs in the woods, and if you are aware of how to deal with bears, everything could be fine. I don’t think a random guy generally belongs in the woods unless he is there for a bad reason, and so I would have no idea what the motivations were.

  10. I think all we have to do it look at the statistic and the correct answer is obvious: How many women are killed each year by bears vs. men? Even leaving aside that, a bear can’t manipulate you or abuse you psychologically or sexually assault you. But men can and do do all of these things. Yep, I’d choose a bear over a random man any day.

  11. I grew up camping with my family and Girl Scouts in the Catskills and Adirondaks and was taught how to react if I saw a bear. I have come upon black bears in the woods and I even had them in my back yard a few times when I lived in NY. Generally, if I leave the bear alone, the bear will leave me alone. So, yes, I would choose the bear.

  12. This came up in every one of my high school social studies classes. It was provocative and generated a LOT of discussion. All of the girls said a bear and each had compelling reasons for it. The boys were incredulous. I think some eyes were opened.

  13. My take on this was a bit different but I also chose bear. (And it relieved me when my husband got the point with no hesitation.) It’s not that I would really want to run up against a bear instead of a stranger in the woods, fuuuu no! That’s irrational.
    The point is that men should be asking themselves: What the hell have women experienced in their lives to make them choose encountering a BEAR instead of a man they don’t know?!

    Then maybe they might ask why we would make such a dramatic choice and the floodgates would open about the way we’ve all grown up with experiences that made us distrustful, scared, or scarred. It would be nice if more men understood that.

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