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We Chose The Bear: What Men AND Women Can Learn From The Man Versus Bear Social Experiment

You may have seen a trend going around on social media asking women, "Who would you rather come across if alone in the forest... an unknown man or a bear?" The answers? Overwhelmingly, women chose the bear.

grizzly bear standing tall on two hind legs with forest in the background

I found myself instantly choosing the bear as well. There are many reasons shared by women as to why this choice was made by seven out of eight women according to one popular TikTok video. A few of the most common comments included:

  • "Nobody would question what I was wearing if the bear attacked me."

  • "The worst thing the bear would do to me is kill me."

  • "Authorities wouldn't question if the bear attack really happened."

  • "I wouldn't have to face the bear in court."

  • "A bear won't accuse me of leading them on because I was nice to them."

  • "I wouldn't be forced to carry the bear's babies to term in 27 states."

  • "Bears do not traffic women."

  • "At least I know why the bear was in the woods."

  • "You won't be told the bear is from a nice family and don't deserve to have their future ruined if you tell the truth."

  • "I wouldn't still have to see the bear at family reunions."

  • "No one will question why you didn't fight harder."

  • "Nobody would ask how much you had to drink before encountering the bear."

  • "A bear wouldn't convince you it loves you before harming you."

A lot to unpack here, isn't there? For many women, it may feel obvious why we are choosing the bear. One in three women in the US have experienced violence from an intimate partner, one in four being the victim of severe physical violence. One five women have been raped and one in seven have been stalked by an intimate partner to the point of fearing they or someone they love would be killed. I've been one of these women.

Meanwhile there are less than a dozen fatal bear attacks in the United States per year.

Men were involved in this experiment as well, being asked if they would prefer their daughter to be stuck in the woods alone with a bear or an unknown man. While there may have been more hesitation, the answer remained the same. Some men took this opportunity to listen, and urge their fellow men to do better. Others proving the point even further by commenting on women's stupidity and even going as far as to send abusive messages to the women sharing.

While it's that true "not all men"are going to harm women, the problem is that we don't know who is who. Especially not an unknown man in the middle of the woods. And too often women experience harm from a man who had earned their trust, perhaps even entered into a loving relationship with.

So what can we learn? Are women out to dismiss every man as unsafe and pit women against men? Or are women attempting to shine a light on a very real problem in our world, inviting both men and women to become part of the solution? Call me naive, but I believe the majority of the time we are brought into the world with pure love in our hearts. Violence and hatred are behaviors that are learned. A young child sees his mother beaten by his father and learns that is what being a man looks like. A college boy learns from his friends that alcohol is a tool to bring a young woman's guard down. A teenager watches his first boss harass his female employee and get away with doing so. A middle-schooler discovers videos of aggressive sexual acts toward women and believes this to be a part of a relationship.

Let's talk to the men and boys in our lives about this social experiment. Explain your reasoning, and if they are a safe place to do so, talk about your own experiences that led you to your choice. Most of all, invite them to hold one another accountable and make the world a safer place for all of us. Here are a few simple ways to do so:

  • Call out inappropriate jokes and remind your friends that rape or abuse is never funny.

  • Choose to listen to music with positive lyrics, or at a minimum not listen to music that praises violent behavior.

  • Do not participate and report the kind of behavior too often dismissed as "locker room talk"

  • Talk about the meaning and practice of consent from a young age.

  • Teach young children proper body part terminology and that they are not "dirty" words, simply a part of their person.

  • Be vigilant in public spaces, especially when alcohol is involved. Do not hesitate to step in, get a bartender/bouncer's attention, or call the authorities if you suspect unsavory behavior.

  • Check in on your sisters, your female friends, your daughters. Ask what they need to feel safer.

  • Listen. Listen. Listen. Take pause and rather than jump to defense, take the time to truly hear the women and girls in your life.

  • Remember that women aren't against you. On the contrary, we are asking you to be our partners and equals in making this world a better place for all of us.

What are your thoughts on this "Man Versus Bear" social experiment?



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I'm a writer, energy healer, and plant-obsessed meditating mama on a mission of guiding women to Heal & Rise! For more about my story...

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