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Man or Bear?

What would you choose?

By Hannah MoorePublished 13 days ago 3 min read
Man or Bear?
Photo by Lance Reis on Unsplash

Until a couple of days ago, this had passed me by. Most things do, I am pretty slow on the uptake. I was only able to wear my shell suit once at the beginning of 1992 before, having only just put it on, being late to discard it too. "I dont get it", I said, showing my partner a meme I had seen more than once in which a flame haired maiden took tea with a bear.

"Ah," he said, knowingly, for each of us claims the win when we recognise we are marginally more down with the kids than the other, "so, there is this question, who would you rather be lost in the woods with, a man or a bear." "Bear" I said. You see how there was no paragraph break there? I am a believer in linguistic rules being convention rather than law, and I had answered before he had even finished his sentence. He looked vindicated.


Now, I didn't get where I am today without questioning my own assumptions here and there (it is worth noting here that where I am today is not terribly far, overthinking is so terribly industrious it leaves little time for actual progress). So I thought about it. Pondered the permutations. Might the bear be hungry? Might the man be resourceful? Might there be a cabin? Might there be a stick? And having wandered the woods until I could see the wood despite the trees, I reached my conclusion. Still bear.

A bear wont hurt me for pleasure. A bear wont hurt me for wounded pride. A bear wont hurt me because its drunk, because its high, because its football team lost. A bear wont hurt me just because it can.

Neither will the majority of men of course. And yet, in 2021, 18% of crimes recorded in England and Wales were domestic abuse. There were 194,683 sexual offences reported in England and Wales in the year ending March 2022 (Crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2022, Office for National Statistics). Over 70,000 rapes. Recorded. Reported. Men, mostly. Not exclusively, and its important to acknowledge that, because male victims of domestic and sexual abuse perhaps have an even harder journey than women. Even that says something about how we socialise our men, doesn't it. What's expected. What's accepted. Where shame comes from. But mostly male perpetrators, mostly against women. And girls.

We are right to be afraid of bears. Bears are bigger than us, heavier, stronger. Bears are, in most of their natural habitats, apex animals. This does not make them unafraid. Bears are scared too. Scared of harm befalling them or their offspring, scared of losing their resources, their position in the hierarchy. The animal training axiom that a scared animal is a dangerous animal holds.

We are also right to be afraid of men. Please re-read the above paragraph replacing the word "bear" with "men". But then add this. Men are animals. Just like bears and women. Across nature, sexual aggression and coercion is common, including the control of female reproduction through behaviours such as herding, separating from the group and even killing of young. But men are highly intelligent animals. Animals capable of conceptual thought, ethical consideration, decision making in behaviour. Men are socialised from birth by a complex, developed network which ordains that violence, threat and sexual incursions are not acceptable behaviour. Yet at the same time as preaching a morality of mutual respect, many cultures also drip with objectification of women and esteem for a style of masculinity characterised by the assertion of dominance. And wherever dominance is asserted, someone is domineered.

And so, a man will hurt me for pleasure. A man will hurt me for wounded pride. A man will hurt me because he is drunk, because he is high, because his football team lost. A man will hurt me just because he can.

I believe that 98 men out of 100 would be my ally in those woods. At worst, a grumpy sod with no bright ideas. But we would be stronger together, more able to defend ourselves from bears and the like.

So why am I still choosing the bear?


About the Creator

Hannah Moore

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Comments (19)

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  • Z.a.i.n.t.zabout 20 hours ago

    luv this

  • angela hepworth9 days ago

    Poignant and honest piece about the conversation that’s been circling the internet the way this has! I absolutely agree with everything you said. I feel as if anyone who is strongly inclined to choose the man, especially other men, is sort of assuming that death is the worst thing that can happen to someone, and that’s not the case. Sexual trauma is very real, as is the very fair fear of male aggression and their tendency to resort to violence. “Not all men, but almost always a man” comes to mind. Amazing work!

  • Novel Allen12 days ago

    I just had this conversation with our 15 year old. Bear was my unequivocal choice. All the arguments went against men and for me women too. I would rather be in the wild taking my chances with the bear than meet the emotional war with the human. Great article.

  • Kodah12 days ago

    A bear is also viewed as a man aswell... Sorry 😅😅 But 100% the bear. Bears wouldn't conduct any deception or betrayal! Incredibly written, Hannah! 💌

  • I choose bear no matter what the circumstances, even if the man would be an ally. Because men change and the way they would gaslight us, gosh! Recently, my male best friend hurt me so much. I communicated that with him and asked him why he would do such a thing even after I told him to stop. He said he doesn't know why he did that. But now you've given me the answer, it's just because he can. Man or bear? Bear, always!

  • John Cox12 days ago

    I absolutely loved this, Hannah! Your essays are one of my favorite things about Vocal. I see the point of the meme, but I hate binary choices. Can’t I opt to not go in the woods at all?

  • Brin J.12 days ago

    I’ve met a bear in my profession. In the wild and in rehabilitation. So this answer is a no brained for me. A bear never tried to force me into their car. A bear never groped me when I was sixteen, sick with a deadly illness and couldn’t stop them. A bear never sent me unsolicited pictures of itself. A bear never tricked me with niceties and then brought me to an isolated location where I was stranded for days because it got jealous and possessive. A bear never tried to shove an unknown pill in my mouth in public. A bear didn’t make me fear posting my face on social media. The thing is, I’m not delusional. I know a bear can kill me. I saw their claws and teeth up close. I know how much damage they could do to me. But the worst thing a bear can do is kill me. A bear isn’t raised by a society telling them it’s evil to harm others, and then CHOOSE to do it anyway. Always, I will pick the bear.

  • L.C. Schäfer12 days ago

    I saw it explained on FB like this: it's a bit like the whole "you are safer on a plane than a bus" thing. The plane FEELS scarier for some people. The bus feels commonplace and therefore safe. The emotional choice for some people will be the man, because like you said, the bear is big and strong and scary. Most people aren't familiar with bears, don't know what to do to stay safe if they encounter one. But the statistical choice for many women is the bear, because of likelihood of attack. It reminds me of the viral thing that went round a few years ago: Women, what would you do if all men disappeared for 24hrs? Number one answer: go for a walk/run late in the evening.

  • Cathy holmes13 days ago

    When I first saw the question posed on SM, I was intrigued and honestly unsure of my answer. Upon reading dozens and dozens of comments from men on the topic, I have to say I choose the bear. Excellent article.

  • D.K. Shepard13 days ago

    This was a thought provoking read. Like you said in the final paragraphs, probably a high percentage would make a preferable ally but the percentage that wouldn't are terrible enough to make the bear a better option.

  • Katarzyna Popiel13 days ago

    Am I the only one who would choose a man? However, when I first looked at the title, it seemed to be 'Man and beer' and another, closer look was needed to see what was actually there. Now I'm wondering if this is my subconscious trying to tell me something...

  • kp13 days ago

    fantastic essay. i'm a trans-masculine, non-binary person that passes as a cis-man, albeit a queer one... and i'd definitely choose the bear.

  • An interesting thought experiment that makes a good point. Its been a bit amusing watching how many men take this literally, wrote a satire that might still need some fine tuning 😅

  • Paul Stewart13 days ago

    Ah yes...I would probably take my chances with a bear too...and don't blame you based on the statistics and just experiences. I was only aware of it from Ruth's scrolling on her phone - the question I mean. This is a well written and honest piece, though, Hannah.

  • Amy Black13 days ago

    Well said!

  • Lana V Lynx13 days ago

    Because 2% is still too high of a chance of being traumatized for life. Good piece, Hannah.

  • Finally through a hard job! Nice distinguish between them.

  • Thavien Yliaster13 days ago

    "So why am I still choosing the bear?" - Past experiences, trauma, fear, maybe ignorance. I don't know. You've seem to answer Your own question multiple times, and yet from what I'm gleaning You're not asking Yourself but the audience.

  • Rachel Deeming13 days ago

    Those stats are scary. I might choose bear too. I liked the thought in this very much. I think the fact that we are animals is overlooked frequently. I remember having a conversation with a nurse once about breastfeeding and complaints she received once when doing it in public. She wondered why that was and I said I thought it was because it's a reminder that we are animals and that breasts serve a purpose other than (excuse the pun) male titillation or sexual pleasure.

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