Man Or Bear? Viral TikTok Trend Shows It’s Scary To Be A Woman

Would you rather come across a bear or a man you don’t know in the woods? Rachael Hite unpacks the latest social media trend and what it says about agent safety.

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If you were in the woods, would you rather come across a bear or a man you don’t know, content creators ask in the latest TikTok trend. It’s making the rounds on social platforms and serving as a harsh reminder that women need to keep safety top of mind at all times — because their most frequent predator is definitely not a grizzly bear.

Inman is no stranger to making sure that women in our industry have access to all the reminders, resources, and safety information from the best of the best in the industry — not only because it’s good journalism, but because it’s essential for every woman working in the field with the public.

Let’s break down the stats around the trend, share resources from previous articles and videos that will be helpful to your team, and at the end, ask the question: bear or man?

Even Goldilocks wasn’t afraid of the bears

While it’s not the stuff of fairy tales, it should be a no-brainer that women are afraid of strange men. However, for some reason, many men in our culture are shocked, surprised or plain ignorant of the dangers of being a woman.

The bear or man TikTok trend started with a simple question asked by the team at Screenshot HQ.  Now viewed and shared over 2.2 million times, the conversation has flooded social media feeds with one clear answer: Women would much rather hang out with a bear than a man they don’t know.

@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

Many moms and daughters grabbed the trend and asked their fathers, partners and brothers the question and watched them struggle through the reality of the answer. The reactions are enough to make everyone uneasy, and that is the point. It’s very uncomfortable having to look over your shoulder at all times.

@babiesofsteeleMark did NOT enjoy this line of questioning – Man or Bear in the woods♬ original sound – Meredith Steele


It’s not just women complaining about the dangers of men. Many men have stepped forward and said that they too would choose a bear because they have been victims of sexual assault or they know women who are victims.

@shiningnathan Gentlemen, when it comes to SA you are not alone and feel free to come forward more about what youve been through. So rarely do men come forward about their SA. #bear ♬ original sound – Claire Boyer


@mrwilliamsprek Dudes, we gotta do some LEARNING! #learnwithme #manorbear #bearorman #bears #protectwomen #believewomen #teachersoftiktok ♬ original sound – Mr Williams
@ripmercury Replying to @capital swag fan Bear today, now and always 🥱 PT 1: @RIPmercury🍉 #transgender #ripmercury #ftm #feminism #thebear #bearorman #transmasculine ♬ original sound – RIPmercury🍉


RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) reports that 1 in 33 men have been raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Stats around personal safety in our country are frightening, and, as many folks have shared on the platform, bears are less likely to hunt you down for harm. As many women shared, the worst thing a bear will do is kill you.

One TikTok user asked ChatGPT the question and even the AI platform reasoned that bear was the safest answer.

@karirevolva @Ruthy did a great video asking Chat GPT about man vs. bear. It made me curious how AI would answer the same Q for women. Guess it’s settled: 👩 > 🐻 > 👨🏻 #bears #bear #bearvsman #ai #chatgpt ♬ LABOUR – the cacophony – Paris Paloma

The math says Bear is the clear winner

Statistically speaking, it is safer to be in the woods with a bear. In fact National Geographic says your chances of being injured by a bear are 1  in 2.1 million and that you’re more likely to be killed by a bee.

The National Sexual Violence resource center reports that they estimate that 1 in 5 women have either experienced or had a rape attempted against them.

The World Health Organization reports that violence against women is a major public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights. What’s worse is you can forget the “unknown” factor; much of the violence is likely to come from a man they know.

The popular TikTok star @dadchats was happy to break down the stats for the confused men on the platform, showing overwhelmingly that when it comes to man or bear, the bear looks to be the safest route.

@bossladyfun2.0 #duet with @dadchats I love this man, he totally GETS IT!! 🐻🤣 #bearfacts #manvsbear #bearvsman #bearorman #manorbear #ichoosethebear #fyp #bears #fyf ♬ original sound – dadchats

Safety education resources

This trend is a great reminder that we can never let our guard down. Just a few months ago, the Roman Empire trend had made its rounds, and I believe that this example is more impactful for men and brings more awareness to the issue at hand.

Being a woman in America is downright dangerous, and being an agent working with the public significantly increases your exposure to potentially harmful encounters.

Here are some recent articles to help you and your team stay informed of safety issues, and to help give structure to these discussions in your office and for your team. I encourage every agent to have a safety plan in place that they have discussed with loved ones, their team, and their broker.

Another location that will load you up with all kinds of industry-specific safety information is NAR’s safety page; make sure that you take a look at the 2023 Residential Member Safety Report. Knowing the location of these tools and assets can help improve your creation and follow-through of a safety strategy for you and your business.

Which would you choose?

The answer is, without a doubt, bear. There are rules for women hikers, not around bear safety but around being safe from men on trails. Among them (almost all of them chilling): take a picture of your outfit and send it to your network so they can identify your body.  Here are a few other good tips, if you come across a man:

What to do (and not to do) if you come across a suspicious hiker:

  • Act confident. This itself can go a long way. Don’t hunch your shoulders and try to make yourself small. Stand tall and act confident, even if you don’t feel it.
  • Make eye contact. Greet them as you would any other hiker — and notice if they ignore you or act strangely. It’s always a red flag for me if a man doesn’t greet me as we pass on the trail, and I will check behind me as I walk on. Nothing has ever happened; they always keep going. But it feels antisocial, so I do look behind as I continue onward.
  • Don’t admit you’re alone. If the person strikes up a conversation with you, let them know that your group is behind you on the trail, and you’ve gone ahead to check things out.
  • Don’t be polite. If the person begins to act in a hostile or aggressive manner, don’t feel the need to be polite. Keep your distance. If the person suggests that they might want to join you on your hike, remind them that you’re with your group, and it’s a special occasion and it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to join you. — Holly Worton, Hiking safety tips for solo women hikers

These are great tips for encountering strange men in general, especially when working in real estate, along with using your phone to call your safety network and making sure to report strange red-flag behavior.

The discourse around this trend is disturbing at best, especially the reaction from men who want to say that women are over-exaggerating the problem and want to villainize them. This is our Roman Empire; this is something that women agents need to think about.

So I have to ask our audience, man or bear?  Share your comments below.

Rachael Hite is a former agent, a business development specialist, fair housing advocate, copy editor, and is currently perfecting her long game selling homes in a retirement community in Northern Virginia. You can connect with her about life, marketing, and business on Instagram and Twitter.

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