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Wait, what does ‘choosing the bear’ mean?

Wait, what does ‘choosing the bear’ mean?

Men still don’t get it, do they?

So, you’re choosing the bear, right?

A new question sweeping social media is being met with nearly complete unanimity among women, and confusion or anger by men. And while this may seem silly, it’s actually rather profound in demonstrating how little men understand about the lived experience of women in the world.

It all has to do with a simple choice: Are you choosing the bear or the man?

Confused? Let me explain, in this edition of TL;DR.

What is 'choosing the bear'?

A question floating around social media asks: Picture yourself alone and unarmed in the woods. Would you rather encounter a bear or a man? Nearly all women (and I truly have not been able to find one woman who disagrees, but let’s just say nearly all) choose the bear.

Wait, I need more. What’s the background here?

It’s unclear where exactly this debate originated, though some are crediting the viral TikTok news account Screenshot HQ, which posted a video of two hosts debating the topic last week. However, they seem to reference a conversation already in progress, so the first to posit this question is still a mystery.

Still, the video from the account helped the debate go viral, where it soon spread all over the app. The question isn’t getting people talking because it’s a silly question, but rather the opposite. Because in just a few days time, it’s exposed a pretty wide disconnect between women and men on the app.

For women, the answer is a no-brainer. A strange man is undeniably a threat. I don’t think there is a woman-identifying person alive who wouldn’t be gripped with fear to turn around in the middle of a lonely expanse of woods to see a man, standing there, with nowhere to run. It’s literally the plot of every other thriller novel and happens on countless episodes of Dateline or CSI. The truth is that men do women harm, every day. This is something ingrained in us from birth. We are told to stick together, to not walk alone at night, to not jog alone in the morning, to not drink too much, to lock our car doors as soon as we get in, to not put our headphones on too loud on a hike, to literally not wear a ponytail because a strange man could grab it easier than a bun. Nearly every woman I know was given by their parents a can of pepper spray to put on their car keys when they got their driver’s license, just in case our new ease of movement in the world makes us more vulnerable to an attack. By a man.

Of course we choose the bear! A bear attack is scary but ultimately feels remote. Sure, it’s harder than we think to outrun a bear, we don’t understand bears, yadda yadda yadda, but sorry, we choose the bear!

But as one TikToker named Shawnda put it in a video, this angers men for some reason. The app is now full of men mansplaining why we should really choose the man over a bear and maybe us poor little ladies just don’t understand how serious a potential bear attack could be.

As Shawnda succinctly puts it: “These men, and some misguided women, are saying, ‘Oh, so you’re really in fear of men all the time?’ Yes. You don’t know that?”

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What does the internet think?

It’s a whole debate. There’s a lot of upset men on this app, everyone (please pray 4 them). Some are joking, saying, “Y’all haven’t watched enough nature documentaries.”

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But as many, many women have pointed out, that’s not really the point. What women are saying is not that they think they could outrun the bear, or the bear isn’t scary, or that they wouldn’t get killed by the bear. They are saying that the potential outcome of the bear attack is still far less frightening than what a man could do to them. Which, yikes.

Maybe the dudes yelling about this should… unpack that!

Why is this becoming such a ~thing?~

The best answer is that this ultimately silly social media trend is exposing some hard truths. Namely, that so many men just don’t get it, still! The chasm between the experience of a person who identifies as a man and a person who identifies as a woman is still so vast, and many cisgender men don’t understand how much danger men pose to a cisgender woman (not to mention queer, non-binary, and transgender people).

That’s also why women can’t stop talking about it. Because the fact that so many men are insistent that we should choose the bear indicates just how far we have to go to bridge this gap in understanding.

What should I tell my friends about this?

Ask them! If they are a woman, I’m pretty sure they will choose the bear.

This article originally appeared on GLAMOUR (US).