OLIVIA SENIOR: Why women would rather be alone with a bear in the woods than a man

Olivia Senior
The Nightly
2 Min Read
OLIVIA SENIOR: Why women would rather be alone with a bear in the woods
OLIVIA SENIOR: Why women would rather be alone with a bear in the woods Credit: Supplied, Adobe Stock

In a recent viral video, a hypothetical question is posed: if you had to choose, would you rather be stuck in the woods with a man or a bear?

Many women choose the bear.

Bears are more predictable than men, and their victims are rarely accused of making it up.

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While men concurred with this perspective, some used it to spread misogynistic rhetoric, missing the point entirely.

My thoughts ignited: the pervasive fear women feel daily either goes unnoticed or is highly misunderstood by men.

Growing up as a woman in Australia has meant that even seemingly minor forms of harassment, like catcalling, unwanted advances, or even the silence of a suburban street, can evoke a deep sense of foreboding, as if precursors to violence.

It’s like hearing the shark siren blare at the beach.

The fear is sharp, tangible, and shared among many women.

The reality is women are far more likely to be attacked by a man in their lifetime than by a shark.

This year, so far, at least twenty-eight women have died at the hands of men.

Last year, four people died from a shark attack in Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals one in two women has experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime, and one in three women has experienced violence from a partner, other known person, or stranger since the age of 15.

Experts believe that the numbers are actually much higher, indicating that they only scratch the surface.

The Government has poured millions into strategies to reduce shark attacks — aerial surveillance, drumlines, nets, tagging — yet our Prime Minister has yet to offer a sufficient strategy to protect women.

At the national rally against gendered violence, Anthony Albanese called on Australians to do better, urging an attitude and cultural shift.

I was struck by the paradoxical nature of his comments.

On the one hand, we are facing a crisis. On the other, we must lean on the good intentions of individuals.

Even with nationwide efforts that challenge gender and social norms, it could take years to yield results.

The thing is that women are never not bearing the responsibility for men’s actions. It is part of our lives; we are constantly living with a pervasive fear that men don’t have to contend with. Despite decades of our efforts, we’re still terrified.

While talking about wild animals and social media trends may seem frivolous in such serious circumstances, we need men to comprehend what’s at stake here. There is power in this discourse. If we need a hypothesis, then let’s hypothesise.

When will we be able to stop treading water, waiting for the siren to go off and the next crisis to jolt us into survival mode yet again?

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