The 'man or bear' test that says everything about violence against women.

There is a theoretical question being asked across social media platforms at the moment; "would you rather be stuck in a forest with a man or a bear?"

It's women, of course, who are the focus of the trend. Overwhelmingly, they're picking the bear. 

"It depends what man, but probably a bear," said one woman on TikTok. 

"What I've heard about bears is they don't always attack you right, unless you f*** with them? So maybe a bear," said another.

@screenshothq The question of being stuck in a forest with a man or a bear is circulating on TikTok right now and sparking some interesting conversation.... we know what our answer would be 🐻🌳 #manvsbear #tiktok #tiktoktrend #trending #challenge #streetinterview #voxpop ♬ Terror Music (Scary Song) - IMPERIUM RECORDS

Another woman on X wrote, "a bear because if it attacks me everyone will believe me."

"Nobody will ask what I was wearing if the bear kills me," said another. 

What a sorry state of affairs we've found ourselves in. We live in a society where, with no other context other than 'man or bear,' women are feeling so unsafe around men they'd rather be left alone with a dangerous wild animal. 

The feature image of this article is a sign being held by one of the 100,000 protesters who marched in Australia over the weekend protesting men's violence against women. 

Women are being killed on average once a week. But recently, we saw nine women murdered across just 18 days. The problem appears to be escalating with 32 women killed already in 2024 according to What Were You Wearing.


I think one of the more telling aspects of the 'man v bear' trend, is the fact that men are picking bear too. 

A follow on trend is women asking their male partners whether they'd be more comfortable leaving their daughter alone in a forest with a bear or a man. 

Overwhelmingly, they're also picking bear.

While the women tend to have an answer almost immediately, many of the dads think about it for a bit. They have questions.


"Is it a friendly bear?"

"Do we know the man?"

When told they have no other context, you can almost see a lightbulb go off in their brains when they realise what their answer is going to be.

"Because I feel like I would know what the outcome would be with a bear, even if it was an aggressive one. I don't know what the outcome would be like with a bad man," explained one dad.

"Oh my gosh it feels like an impossible choice, which just shows you how much I don't trust other people I don't know," said another.

Eventually this particular dad picks the man. But when asked 'bear or woman' the same dad doesn't hesitate; he'd pick the woman without a second thought. 

@thewildwitchjean #duet with @Kators #bearorman #doyougetitnow? ♬ original sound - Kators

"The fact that we live in a society where that's what women have to deal with all the time... the fear. You felt the fear of leaving your daughter in the woods with a man. This is how women feel walking to their cars at night," his partner responds. 

'Jon the Detective' on TikTok also weighs in. He picks the bear. 

A police officer for 31 years, he explained of his decision, "I instantly said bear, and then I thought about it and I still said bear...to say that I am aware of the icky things people can do to eachother is an understatement".

"The bear kills because he's trying to protect something or they're hungry. Men kill because they make a choice. Often men kill because they want to. Often men kill over emotion, jealousy, rage - I don't think this plays into what animals do. Animals are instinct based; you don't harm them, they're often not going to harm you," he said.

@jon.the.detective Man or bear a detective’s perspective. Team Bear. #fyp #manvsbear #woods #bearman ♬ original sound - Jon.The.Detective

Another TikTok dad explained his rationale as, "a bear only has the ability to kill her or leave her alone, a man has a thousand possibilities. So honestly, I pick bear".

It's bizarre that it takes a theoretical question about bears to make men start to understand the experience of women, but here we are. I'm just glad they're cottoning on. 

But if this trend tells us one thing, it's how dire this issue has become. 

How do we live in a world where half the population is terrified, afraid to be out under the cover of darkness, and being killed at an unpreceded rate by the other half?

The fact that women feel safer in the company of bears, is utterly depressing. 

Let's hope we in Australia see some proper change coming out of the urgent national cabinet meeting that's been called on Wednesday to discuss this very issue. Surely the outpouring of anger over the weekend in the form of thousands marching in 17 different locations can't be ignored. 

Because something's got to change. We can't be picking the bear.

Feature image: Facebook.

Powered by Froala Editor

Do you love trying new skincare products? Complete this survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher.