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Jun 26, 2024

A Line In the Sand: Man Vs. Bear

Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine

Photography By

M.Kat
For the uninitiated, the debate originated where all divisive and pointless arguments start – on the internet. In it, people air their views on which option they’d prefer to wander into while lost in the forest – a man or a bear. 

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Courtney’s Opinion: Man vs. Bear…I prefer my chances encountering a bear.

The debate began on TikTok, a channel to which I do not subscribe. So, I had to wait until friends started sharing it on Instagram for the comments to reach me. But it was not until the debate hit newspapers (Long live print media!) that I went down the proverbial rabbit hole, diving for and interested in the answers.

An April USA Today story that recapped the 100,000 opinions on the bear vs. man debate included this particular response from Diana, who had asked her sister-in-law what she would do – “I asked her the question, you know, just for giggles. She was like, ‘You know, I would rather it be a bear because if the bear attacks me, and I make it out of the woods, everybody’s gonna believe me and have sympathy for me,” she said. “But if a man attacks me and I make it out, I’m gonna spend my whole life trying to get people to believe me.’”

Diana’s sister-in-law, wherever you are, you are my spirit sister. I get you. 

“…if a man attacks me and I make it out, I’m gonna spend my whole life trying to get people to believe me.’”

As an early riser and a fan of outdoor activity, I’ve spent a fair amount of time alone in the woods, here in Bluffton in the horse trails of my neighborhood, hiking and/or running in other states while on vacation, and as a slow and cautious skier, when I often find myself alone on the double-green trails without another human in sight. I choose these things.

But despite my joy when I am outside, I am also keenly aware of the state of the world. And fueled by decades of Law & Order episodes, I am hyper-vigilant. Just this morning, as I ran before the sun was up, a white van slowed beside me. Per usual, I made direct eye contact with the driver (so I could describe him to a sketch artist later), memorized the license plate, and started to finger the four bracelets that I never take off as I know those will be the breadcrumbs I leave for investigators if push comes to shove, and I lose the shove.

But it is not just deep in the forest where men can be creeps. Last fall at a local event, I was shaking a male acquaintances’s hand when he pulled me to him, kissed me half on the lips (half because I was able to quickly turn  my head and get some cheek in there), and said, “I love you.” I share this to prove that this happens in public, surrounded by hundreds of people, to CEOs of organizations, like me.

And sadly, men like that ruin it for the rest of men. Is that right? Probably not. But our perception becomes our reality.

And my reality is based on a handful of bad experiences with men who overstepped, over-touched, over-slurred.

You do whatever peels your potato, but my default position is to protect myself at all costs. So, alone in the woods, I prefer my chances encountering a bear over a man.  

Special thanks to Anderson Kaufman for being a spectacular bear stand in. 

Barry’s Opinion: I getchu ladies, but a bear is the real “monster” in this debate.

We realize we’re a little late to the debate on this one, but if there was ever a subject that begged to be tackled by Courtney and me, it’s the recent “man or bear” debate.

For the uninitiated, the debate originated where all divisive and pointless arguments start – on the internet. In it, people air their views on which option they’d prefer to wander into while lost in the forest – a man or a bear. 

A lot of women chose the bear. 

And I guess I can’t fault them. When you look at the numbers, who commits the majority of murders, assaults, and robberies? Humans – and more specifically, men. At worst, the really criminal bears will just steal your picnic basket. (I checked and, while those Charmin ads are repulsive and irritating, they don’t constitute criminal or predatory behavior.)

So, it’s safer to encounter a bear in the woods than a man, right? Of course not. A bear is a vicious wild animal that will absolutely rip you to pieces if it feels like it. Sure, you have those dopey bears that run away if you wave your arms around, but there are dummies in every corner of the animal kingdom. 

And humanity is no exception. Yes, you absolutely do have those dopey men who would attack a woman if they happened to find one wandering in the woods. Yes, there are some men who have given women every reason to fear all of us. 

Statistically, if you encounter a man out in the woods, he’s going to be your typical guy. In fact, he’s probably just as lost as you are, he’s just not going to admit it.

But I’ll let the fairer sex in on a little secret – we men are terrified of those jerks, too. Our bravado mandates that we choose the man over the bear in this scenario, but only because (a) we’re even more scared of bears and (b) society demands that we never let on that we fear our fellow man. Instead, we need to act as if an encounter with a dangerous man in the woods would be just the thing we need to bust out our fighting skills. (We also need to act as if we have fighting skills, regardless of whether or not we do.) 

But really, that’s not why I choose the man in this debate. I choose the man because I know men, and the odds of getting one of the dangerous ones are lower than you think. Statistically, if you encounter a man out in the woods, he’s going to be your typical guy. In fact, he’s probably just as lost as you are, he’s just not going to admit it.

For the most part, we men are a pretty peaceable bunch. Outside of football season or election years, we’re easy to get along with as long as you have beer. If you meet us in the woods, we’ll probably ask if you know the way out. If you don’t, we’ll probably try and help if we can. Obviously, first we’ll ask if you have any beer.  

You really think a bear is going to give you that same help? They don’t even like beer.  

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