Trust Me … I Will Always Choose the Bear

by candy barone Jun 17, 2024

So, recently there was a question posed on social media that went viral: 

“Would you rather be alone in the woods with a man or a bear?”

The responses nearly broke the internet, as men were in an uproar to realize that for most women their answer would be emphatically: the bear.

I have to say, in light of recent events and reminders, I definitely, without pause or hesitation, would also say: the bear. 

And, honestly … there’s a million reasons why. 

Let me break down just a few of them from my vantage point. 

My Experiences

As I begin to shed a light on why most women are likely to choose the bear, let me start by sharing some experiences I encountered in my own life. 

These are but a few examples of times where I have not felt safe around men, and where I have seen firsthand the risk we, as women, have to face day in and day out thanks to the current world we live in. 

Example #1: Lurking in dark places

Just this morning as I was walking Ernie on our regular morning walk, I was reminded why I will always choose the bear. 

Lurking within the trees sat a man.

He made no sound as I was giving Ernie some leeway on his leash to take in all the smells of the new morning. See, there is this retention pond across the street from my house, some wooded area, but mostly open space. 

I like to take Ernie over there to get his sniff game on, especially on mornings where I get up later and the sun is already beating down. I like being able to walk in the grass to protect his little paws.

So, per usual, we were walking around the retention pond. As we were crossing over the basin where the water flows in, there is a little dark corner that is tucked away. 

I don’t usually think anything of it, as it’s just a little stage tucked into some a blanket of trees. And, it’s a rather small space.

This morning, however, I was abruptly startled. 

As we were crossing the top part of the basin, all of the sudden I felt a presence staring at me. I jumped and turned, as the energy felt creepy and eerie. When I did, there was a man lurking in the dark space with his black and brown German Shepard dog (who was off leash). 

Both Ernie and I felt it. 

Ernie, who is usually pretty chill, growled and reacted. 

My nervous system immediately felt like it was outside my body. And, here it was broad daylight, and I felt like something was ready to lunge at us from the darkened shadows. 

And, the man wouldn’t call his dog off, even after I demanded that he did. 

The entire scenario on lasted a moment, but the unease it created in my system and body, along with that of Ernie, took nearly an hour to release.

I hate feeling like I can’t walk my dog freely (on a leash)n without having to watch around every corner. I never take my airpods with me anymore for exactly this reason. I know I need to be prepared for anything. 

Example #2: My sister has been attacked twice

Back when my sister was living up in Milwaukee, she was out walking and a man jumped out of the bush just outside her apartment and grabbed her. 

He demanded she hand over her money and jewelry, to which she had to forfeit her favorite Tiffany necklace that was a gift she treasured. 

This was the second time my sister was attacked while living up there. 

Example #3: My neighbor caught me off guard

When I was twelve years old, before my parents divorced, they were out one evening and I was left home to watch my brother and sister. 

I was watching TV, and all the sudden in the window beside was the boy who lived next door staring out me. It creeped me out. 

When I went outside to confront him for scaring me, he jumped me. 

Mind you, this was someone I trusted up until that point.

From then on, I had a series of guy friends who thought it was funny to scare me, pin me up against walls, and try to mess with me.

I’ve been date raped, grab from behind in unfamiliar places, leered at, and literally picked up by strange men who thought they were being funny. 

I am 5'2" tall. Though, I pack a good punch, I also know I am not equipped to handle a big guy coming at me, who thinks he has permission to pick me up off the ground and move me. 

My experiences aren’t unlike that of many women.

Looking at the Bigger Picture

I honestly don’t think a women exists that couldn’t express the “me too” sentiment that become so popular after so many reports of sexual abuse, harassment, violation, and misconduct was brought to light. 

Yet, men are offended that we would choose the bear. 

Let’s look at the statistics

The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that 1 out of 3 women globally have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

A majority of these offenses are by men they know. Nearly 30% of women have reported being in a relationship where they were sexually and/or physically violated and abused by a partner they knew

The United Nations Women (UN Women) reported that intimate partner violence is not prevalent in 161 countries. 

And, the numbers and incidents continue to climb. 

Laws that continue to strip away women’s power

Just recently, the state of Missouri passed a new law stating the a woman cannot divorce her husband if she’s pregnant, even if he’s abusing her. 

Seriously, what???

First, to think the state has power to decide whether a woman can file for divorce or not, at all, is absolutely absurd. But, to then qualify that further by saying regardless of whether she’s being abused or not. 

We are regressing backwards in this country. 

And, again … we wonder why women would so easily choose the bear. 

It’s not all men

While these are my reasons for feeling safer with bears, I know full well that not all men are potential threats or perpetrators. 

There are still many decent men who I know there are plenty of really decent, kind, compassion, protective men in this world truly respect and value women as their equals.

I am not directing this discussion at them directly. Though, for many of them, there still is opportunity for them to lean in, step up, and to use the power of their voice and actions more to create change. 

We all have a responsibility to create safer spaces for our children. 

Women shouldn’t have to fear for their lives or the risk of being attacked or raped every time they walk out the door. 

I know longer run errands after dark, as I don’t want to put myself at extra risk. This is absolute bullshit. The fact the I, and many women, have to rearrange their ability to fully live their life for fear that some man will take advantage of her, or feel he has power over here, is obscene. 

The statistics and accounts I’ve shared are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the pervasive threats and violations women face simply for existing in this world. 

The physical, emotional, and psychological toll of constantly having to be on guard, limiting our own freedoms out of fear, is immense.

We teach girls defensive tactics, how they need to dress, and that somehow they need to put up with this nonsense, claiming “boys will be boys.”

We miss opportunities to teach boys about respecting boundaries. 

This normalization of violence against women has become an inevitable part of life and is a stain on society that can no longer be accepted.

If we are going to do better, it starts with advancing a multi-pronged movement of education, accountability, believing and advocating for victims’ stories, and steadfast allyship to truly create lasting change. 

We must:

  • Implement comprehensive consent education starting at young ages
  • Enact harsher legal consequences for abusers and harassers
  • Provide greater funding for women’s shelters and survivor resources
  • Demand more men speak up to call out unacceptable misogynistic behavior on behalf of their brothers who are creeping us out
  • Believe women’s stories, stop victim-blaming & minimizing allegations

Only through these concrete actions can we dismantle the insidious culture that still allows violence against women to persist. It’s going to take courage, vulnerability, and an unwavering commitment to human rights.

We cannot allow future generations to grow up being fearful and not feeling safe in their own neighborhoods and communities.

The idea of taking your chances with a wild animal over the company of a man should awaken an excruciating call to action.

When will we finally say, “enough is enough”? 

The path ahead is daunting but any other road is simply unacceptable. 

Our daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, and friends deserve to walk freely without holding their keys between their knuckles as a makeshift weapon, carrying mace in their purses, and needing to stay home after dark.

 Enough is enough. It’s time to do better.


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