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Who would women rather be stuck in a forest with?

Updated: May 30

A philosophical question is currently being asked online that is causing quite a stir… so how would you answer this question?

“Who would women rather be stuck in a forest with - a man or a bear?”

Many women are saying they'd prefer to meet a bear because “a bear never said I was asking for it”, “a bear never told me to smile because I looked ugly”, and “a bear never sent me unsolicited dick pics” etc.

This has led to many men getting angry about it and saying it's man hating, misandry, etc.

But I don’t see it that way. Because there is only one possible answer to the question and it proves something I’ve always thought.

We are all Risk Managers

When faced with this dilemma; Man in the woods or bear. The only possible answer would be that you would rather meet a bear. But why?

What you’re actually asking people to consider is, what is the biggest threat to you in the woods. Is it a man, or is it the bear.

When we’re navigating our world we are constantly evaluating risk. We are assessing if something is a risk, and if we are vulnerable when faced with that threat.

Of course, being faced by a bear isn’t something to be taken lightly. But the level of threat can be evaluated very quicky. For example, a bear's behaviour is predictable. It's a known (or perceived) threat with established defence mechanisms. You can either ‘play dead’, try and scare it off, run, or fight back (not to be recommended)).

If you come across a bear in the woods you are entering their environment, so it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see one.  Your brain doesn’t ask “Oh! A Bear?! What on earth is that doing here?!” It’s like going in to the sea and being surprised when you see a fish!

But entering the woods and finding a man there?! Well, that’s a different story altogether. Your ‘risk manager brain’ will immediately have questions that need to be answered.

  • What is the man doing there?

  • How long has he been there?

  • What are his intentions? Is he a friend of foe?


The man represents the unknown. Therefore, it is difficult to predict the level of risk they pose. Your presence may ‘scare him off’, but do you need to ‘play dead’ (i.e. ignore them), run (walk away) or fight (confront him)?

The philosophy of risk and trust

We are constantly evaluating the levels of risk we face, from the moment we wake, step outside and begin our commute to work. Is the road clear? Is it safe to cross? Should I risk taking the train or travel by car?

When it comes to this question of who you would rather meet in the woods, the answered can only ever be, The Bear. But I do feel it reflects a broader societal issue - the erosion of trust between genders. Women, statistically, are more likely to experience violence or harassment from men they know than from strangers. Therefore, this naturally translates to a heightened sense of risk assessment in social situations.

What does this mean to us?

There’s clearly a lot more going on here, in this question and answers being provided than we can cover in a blog which is interested in risk management. 

For example, it’s important to say this doesn’t mean that all men are a threat, nor does it downplay the dangers of wildlife. We feel it sheds light on perceived and known risks in society, and how we tackle these is not by attacking the bear (or the man) and questioning their motives.

Sadly, violence against women by men is a known statistic, and therefore it's not such a surprise that men's motives are called into question when we're found in unusual places (like the woods).

What this question highlights (from a Risk perspective), is the need to be aware of what threats are present, and how vulnerable we are to them. It also highlights the ever-present need for vigilance and the complexities of navigating social interactions. This is especially true for men. So if you're in the woods, be sure you are ready to explain yourself.

Bears aren’t social animals (at least with humans), but they are predictable, humans are not. Therefore, the trust and perception of risk associated to a bear is more fully understood and can be evaluated much more accurately.

How we have come to the evaluation of risk (of man vs bear) is the topic for much debate and a library full of books.

So, perhaps a more balanced question would be; Who do you rather meet in a forest; A bear or a human? (Spoiler: The answer is always, bear!)

More questions?

If you need help with risk management, or you’re wondering what could be more dangerous than meeting a bear in the woods(!) then get in touch with Consultants Like You! We’re happy to have a cuppa to discuss where you are, and how we can help you navigate yourself out of the woods!

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