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Settling the Man or Bear Debate

by Tia Janowski 

In the world of TikTok, many trends come and go, however, you're probably familiar with the street interview question that has consumed everyone's For You Page. 

In a recent video, @SCREENSHOT went around asking women: "Would you rather be stuck in a forest with a man or a bear?"

It seems that this simple question has caused a debate on social media after the video revealed that most women (all but one) felt they’d be safer alone with a bear.


This debate has caused quite a reaction from men, labelling women as “unrealistic” and “ridiculous” for choosing a bear. Negative comments have flooded videos where women have explained their choice, with remarks such as “All the sad lonely women would say a bear” and “They seem to always answer this question assuming the bear is minding its own business and the man is hunting you.”


Jonathan Buchanan took to TikTok to share his opinions on this video, where he dismissed choosing a bear as absurd. 

In the video, Buchanan discusses how social media isn’t reflective of reality, which he follows by mocking statistics on sexual assaults versus bear attacks. He insinuates that encountering bears is less common than encountering men, making it easy for a woman to claim they wouldn't be scared of a bear.


Unsurprisingly, Jonathan’s video has drawn some backlash in the comments, prompting women to share their experiences and reasons for choosing a bear. Comments ranged from pointing out the potential danger posed by men, “the worst thing a bear can do is kill me, a man can do worse and not even kill me,” whilst others highlighted the aggression in dismissing women’s concerns, saying “this is why we would choose a bear.”


@JJ, an ecology major, responded to Jonathan’s TikTok, saying that despite knowing more about bears than the average person, she would still choose a bear. 

She follows this by stating statistics on bear attacks, saying that there are on average only six fatal bear attacks a year in America. From this, she said that many people go hiking in areas where bears live and that most attacks happen when the bear is approached. Therefore, if a bear is left unbothered, it’s unlikely they will attack, however, she says, “the same cannot be said about men.”


In a TikTok by @Cece, she shares comments that have been made following this discussion:


“The bear didn’t pretend to be my friend for months beforehand.”


“No one will say that I liked the bear attack.”


“No one will talk about the bear’s bright future.”


“If the bear and the man both wanna hurt me and I scream loud enough, there’s a better chance that the bear will run away.”


This compilation of comments sheds light on the concerns and experiences women face that many men don’t even have to think about. Is this why it’s so common for men to dismiss women’s fears as unreasonable when, in fact, they stem from a very real and valid place? 

Fearing a man more than a bear may seem ridiculous to some, but for many women, it’s a very real reality.


Amongst the serious discussion, some women are injecting humour into the debate whilst still acknowledging the daily fear many women experience. Comments like "The bear wouldn't leave me on delivered" and "I’ve never seen a bear on Law and Order: SVU" highlight the hilarity in this even being a debate - and how many men are making it about themselves. 


Beneath the humour lies a sobering reality: women’s discomfort around men, whether on the street or alone in a forest. 

The response seen by many men underscores a lack of understanding of what it means to be a woman. While it’s true that many of us don’t encounter bears in our day-to-day lives, the core issue remains: many women would rather entrust their safety to a bear, which at worst, would kill them, rather than risk the uncertainties of being alone with an unknown man. 


Edited by Emily Duff

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