women's safety

Would You Rather Face a Bear or a Man? What the TikTok Trend Reveals About Women's Safety

If you are a regular on social media, you might be privy to the controversy sparked by a TikTok debate: If given the choice, would you rather be stuck in a forest with a Man or a Bear? 

The responses, though seemingly lighthearted, carry a weighted undertone reflecting the disparate experiences between genders. A lot of women have overwhelmingly responded by saying that they would choose The Bear

The reasoning women mentioned - 

“I know the bear’s intentions. Can’t say that about a man.”

“If I die by a bear I’ve fed its survival instincts, if I die by a man I’ve likely only fed his fantasies.”

“Bear, because people would believe me.”

Women across the world who resonated with these reasons, not only express a lack of safety but the fear of not being believed when one is reporting sexual assault or harassment.

A Reddit user, hey-just-saying, articulated quite well the disbelief and blame women encounter when reporting assault and abuse with an analogy:

Can you imagine a forest ranger asking you - 'What were you wearing when the bear attacked you? Have you been drinking? What did you do to make the bear think you were interested in him? Did you scream for help? Did you at any time ask the bear to stop? How many times? Have you been alone with this bear before? Have you had encounters with other bears in the past? Ma’am, why were you out on the walking trail?'

While women feel solidarity in their choice of the bear over a man. 

Many men online have taken this choice as a personal attack. Accusations of "man-bashing," and defensive statistics about bear attacks have flooded the discourse. 

Men seem to do what they are often accused of: ‘not listening

I  understand that it may be difficult to comprehend why women are choosing the bear over a man, especially since being a woman is not your lived reality - like needing to be watchful of constantly being groped while walking down the street;  worrying about whether the cab driver would drop you home safely or take a detour, worrying if the person you are turning down might take offence and get physically aggressive. These thoughts might not even cross your mind. 

Male privilege is real but no one is holding it against you, however you are accountable for not acknowledging it. Privilege doesn't mean you don't struggle, it just means that you are privileged. Your struggle and another’s struggle doesn't need to be in competition. Privilege doesn’t invalidate your struggle. 

Empathy is something that everyone can receive. A superstar who  breaks their leg may have better hospital conditions, less worry about finances and millions of fans wishing them well; but that does not invalidate their pain and long recovery process as much as anyone who has a broken leg. However, one  cannot discount the existence of the additional stressors a non-superstar would have to face due to their lack of resources. 

While one might not consider these ‘privileges’ to be large or of any significance, imagine not having them or having to fight for them. What if you had to fight for the right to work, to wear what you want, to choose your life partner, for your sexual freedom. Sometimes you might not think or talk about privilege because you haven't experienced the lack of it, but this is the reality of women and minority groups.

While I see that being assigned the role of a perpetrator when you haven't committed any kind of sexual violence, and having a dangerous wild animal that can snap your spine in two  preferred over you, is downright insulting and feels ‘unjust’. 

Your flat-out dismissal of something that is not your reality doesn't make a great case for you either!

At the cost of coming across as womansplainy, I want to reiterate that - - the message isn't that all of you are predators; it's that women often don't feel safe!.’ 


It's not ALL MEN, but it's enough men that warrants such a response. 


Once you get past the initial shock of being labelled as  threatening, ask yourself: Why do women prefer the bear? Are you unknowingly contributing to the lack of safety women feel? Would you want to do something about it? Why is society, with all of its advancements in thought and technology still unsafe for women and minorities? 

The Man vs. Bear debate isn't just about men and women, it is about the subtle and not so subtle influences of patriarchy, ignorance towards the costs, because of the benefits one incurs. It is about privilege, non-inclusivity and lack of introspection by some men about their changing place in society and how it is affecting them, but there needs to be a separate blog for that.

For now let's keep it simple, the outcry by women is about being denied something fundamental in a civilised society—the need for safety.

This debate can be a catalyst for deeper conversations. Beyond the outrage and defensiveness there can be  understanding, introspection and change. This debate is not about vilifying men but about recognizing that women’s safety concerns and those of minority groups tend to be invalidated because it threatens one's own unacknowledged privilege of being a male member in a patriarchal society.

As we strive to create a more equitable world, it’s essential to dissect what patriarchy truly means to us, recognize who benefits from it, and examine how we can hold ourselves accountable for perpetuating or challenging this system. 

Who knew that it would take a fictional bear in a forest to spark such an important debate! 
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Meet the Author

Zena Yarde


Zena's not one for idle chit-chat, often taking things a bit too seriously (is there even another way?). She's fully dedicated to her cats (or let's say she's a bit of a crazy cat lady), enjoys the simple things, family time, sunsets, the ocean, a good nap, observing plants and people (in the non-creepy way), and the occasional solitude.

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