As has been discussed already here in this community, the key takeaway from the bear hypothetical is that it is an opportunity to truly listen to the lived experiences of women under patriarchal systems. I encourage “first response” to the bear discussion to head back to this post, as I am looking for discussion kind of after the fact. If this is your first exposure to the bear thing, head there, then pop back here after you have a good handle on the situation.

My question has two parts:

  1. Positive Steps: Let’s explore resources for folks to act on the things they have learned from this discussion.
  2. Creating a Safe Space: During the course of the debate, it’s likely that high emotions have led to lashing out and unkind words, perhaps even unintentionally directed towards men who may be survivors of SA themselves. Can we create a space here for listening and affirming one another about these potentially painful experiences?
  • PugJesus@kbin.social
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    2 months ago

    As a once-angry young man who mellowed out somewhat (I am now an angry 30-year-old man), I do understand some of the prickliness involved, even if it doesn’t apply to me anymore. I was always pretty liberal and anti-manosphere, but there is an element here that isn’t “Men always have to butt in on subjects where we should be listening to women” (that definitely IS a problem, mind).

    We, as men, are socialized to deal with othering in the most dogshit ways, and like rubbing salt in a wound, inevitably aggravate it. You don’t talk about getting othered, unless you’re getting angry about it, otherwise you’re ‘weak’ and need to ‘nut up’ and ‘stop being a pussy’. You can’t work to solve it, because then you’re a ‘tryhard’ and ‘pathetic’. It’s a kind of helplessness by being stripped of the natural tools that should be available to us, but generations of toxic masculinity have rendered anathema.

    It’s like being trapped in a cage, where you can see every piece of what is tormenting you, but do nothing about it except grind your teeth into dust trying fruitlessly to chew through the bars until some power, through no influence of your own, releases you. No one wants to be othered, no one wants to be seen as fundamentally contrary to participation in a common community - but many men have no way of dealing with that, and it terrifies them. The wounds never heal, but you become increasingly defensive and neurotic about it. It becomes a hair-trigger.

    A lot of young men right now are probably reading the bear metaphor as more an incident of othering rather than an expression of the risk inherent to women when dealing with our current society. They aren’t hearing “Jesus Christ, be a little receptive to the concerns of women, the risk calculus here is not the same risk calculus you are using”, they’re hearing “Women don’t see us as equals, they see us as dangerous animals. We’re not of a common community; we’ve been (or are being, or are realizing we’ve always been) cast out.”

    Obviously this gets the dander up on misogynists, but even many otherwise-feminist-leaning men will feel hurt by seeing it this way. And the reactions of some individuals - using that same ‘nut up, pussy’ toxic masculinity dialogue, but in ‘defense’ of a feminist metaphor - is twisting the knife, putting those who understand toxic masculinity back into the intensely frustrating position of trying to explain why that’s a dogshit response, and making those who don’t understand toxic masculinity double down in the natural, automatic reaction that they’ve been conditioned to embrace in response to being othered - pain. And from pain, anger.

    tl;dr; The reactions of many men to the metaphor are problematic, but it’s not as simple as “Bunch of sexists are unhappy that they have to consider other people” for all of them. A lot of is “Bunch of broken men are being given the exact scenario they are used to exercising their society-approved maladaptive coping skills in, with both sides effectively cheering their response on as it serves their own prejudices and preconceptions.”

  • otp@sh.itjust.works
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    2 months ago

    I think that part of the problem is that people tie their identities to labels.

    When someone says “I’d rather encounter the bear than a man”, some people will say “I’m a man, and that means she’s afraid of me (personally)”…and go on to have their feelings hurt by it because it’s interpreted as a judgment of who they are as an individual.

    Honestly, I think a big part of it is ignorance of women’s experiences and a difficulty with perspective-taking.

    Maybe men aren’t as statistically dangerous as bears. If they aren’t, why are women afraid? There are reasons for that.

    I can imagine some men extrapolating from this and wondering “How can I ever approach a woman if they’re all afraid of me?”…but the answer is “NOT alone when she’s alone in a secluded spot in the woods”…

    If the question was “Would you rather encounter a bear or a man at a board game café?”, you’d find a lot fewer women hoping to encounter a bear.

    Context matters.

    • Hanrahan@slrpnk.net
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      2 months ago

      I said ok, her choice and moved into the next meme/story.

      I must admit to not understanding the furore that then arose and don’t know why men (am a man) were getting butt hurt. Why would I care if women prefer the company of bears in the woods.

      • otp@sh.itjust.works
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        2 months ago

        I’m glad that you didn’t take it personally. I still think it’s important to understand the reasons why women might generally prefer the bear.

  • pixeltree@lemmy.blahaj.zone
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    2 months ago

    Honestly, when I was a young male teen on reddit, I internalized a whole bunch of stuff like this, and it’s made me uncomfortable around women. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, scared, or feel unsafe and combined with a whole lot of self hatred/loathing/negativity in general over a long time basically indelibly etched into my mind that anything remotely romantic with women is not ok.

    Please, please, please understand that I’m not being like “woke feminism made me hate women and fucked my life up!” It’s just when I was young and my brain was more malleable, it hurt being male when people would talk about men being predators, etc. I wanted to distance myself from that as much as possible, and went so far the other way for so long that it honestly fucked me up mentally. I have other trauma around women that makes it uncomfortable, namely a lot of being asked out as a prank. (There is no good response, if you said yes, then hahaha you fucking loser you actually thought someone would interested in you? If you said no, then you’re gay and you should go kill yourself)

    I’m no longer male, and now know I’m not straight, but that shit has stuck with me. Sometimes I fear that I’m not actually attracted to men, that I’m just desperate for affection and my brain is broken where dating/intimacy/relationships with women is concerned. (Then a man starts kissing me and it dispells my doubts for a while.)

    I don’t really know why I’m sharing this. I guess I just wanted to say that while men who are upset at women about women choosing the bear don’t get it and are part of the problem, the messaging can have serious impact on people for the worse. Certainly not saying that women shouldn’t speak up about it. I think it’s natural to be upset about how men are seen in this context, and that that anger is frequently directed at the women speaking up, shooting the messenger so to speak, when it should be directed at the system and society that allows such treatment of women to be commonplace.

    Fuck it’s too early in the morning and I’m rambling and oversharing. I hope someone finds some value in this word vomit.

    • spujb@lemmy.cafeOP
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      2 months ago

      Omg, this is exactly why I made this post. Thank you so much for sharing this homie. I think there are plenty of people who share this experience and emotional relationship with the situation and it’s so very important to know that yours is valid as well. 🧡

  • AnotherDirtyAnglo
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    2 months ago

    Story time…

    On the way home from work I stepped off a bus and turned in the direction of home. A young woman who was a few steps ahead of me was being verbally harassed with overtly sexual language by a man. I stepped between them, facing the dude, and told him to fuck off and walk away. Some words were exchanged, and eventually he turned around and walked away. I watch him for a minute or two, then turned around and walked home. The woman he was harassing was long gone.

    When I got home and relayed this story to my girlfriend, she said this sort of interaction was COMMON. She’d never mentioned it in the nearly 10 years we’d been dating. It was normal to her. My response was “What the actual fuck? That’s bullshit.” But it was her reality, and the reality of the woman I saw, and probably dozens or hundreds more, every day.

    We collectively need to do better. We need to stop doing it ourselves, and stop our friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, and even strangers from doing it. We need to raise the average and be better.

  • pmk@lemmy.sdf.org
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    2 months ago

    I think a positive step can also be to think back and reflect a bit. Why did I react the way I did? When I first heard the hypothetical, it made me feel bad about myself. After that came a feeling of defeat. I was thinking “why even bother, whatever I do I’m the villain.” I’m very afraid of bears, which may have played into this.
    The main thing I’ve been thinking since then is that I find it easier to have empathy with people who show empathy to me. It’s easy to think “well then, when they start showing empathy, so will I.”, but it goes both ways, doesn’t it? That made me want to influence this loop of causality, or what to call it.
    I’ll set my negative emotions to the side, and try to not contribute to the division between people. Maybe even manage to be a part in the positive direction. As I get older, the more I realize that I can’t change the world, but I have a very deep wish to be a net positive somehow.
    As for acting on the things I have learned, I don’t really know what to do, and I hope this is a safe space for anyone who needs support.

  • homura1650@lemm.ee
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    2 months ago

    This post is in two parts. The first is my attempt at an objective analysis of what lessons we should take from this.

    The second part is my subjective introspection of why I feel the way I do about it. I’m still not sure if sharing that part is a good idea; but I wrote it to gather my own thoughts and feelings, and maybe it can help someone else. Or maybe it is just a giant wall of text that no one wants to look at.

    First, the analysis:

    The story with the bear hypothetical has almost nothing to do with gender dynamics. Sure, there is a gender politics point to be seen. A lot of women fear men. However, that is not a new insight. That observations has been a major part of the gender discourse for as long as I have. Almost no one is being introduced to that concept through the bear hypothetical.

    Having said that, if you, dear reader, are part of todays lucky 10,000, then congratulations! If you are interested in learning more, then I would suggest avoiding anything that mentions “bear”, and instead start with metoo. That was another time this type of gender dynamics conversation went viral, and produced a much healthier discourse.

    In an ideal world, the bear hypothetical would have been made, and quickly forgotten about; either because someone was venting, or just struck out on a rhetorical point. These things happen. People who hear them see the context in which they happen and everyone moves on.

    However, this hypothetical was posted on TikTok. TikTok is an amazing app. An unironic triumph of artificial intelligence. It is capable of turning humans into engagement with an efficiency that we thought was impossible just a decade ago. And this bear hypothetical is great for engagement. Toxic engagement, but engagement none the less. It then spread to other social media, which have similar (although less advanced) algorithms designed to create engagement. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the lemmyverse was late to the bear party. Or that when the bear party reached us, such a disproportionate amount of the content has been at the meta level. We do not have the same toxic algorithms here. The meme only made it here as spillover after the big social media sites made it such a huge thing.

    Regardless of how this meme came to be so large, is it useful? I would argue not. Look at all the discourse it has generated. How much of it has been productive? How many problematic men do you think listened to the discourse and took away the lesson you want them to take away? How many problematic men do you think listened to the discourse and took away that the entire movement you are trying to advance is stupid? Sure, plenty of men understood what you are trying to say; but those are not the ones that you need to reach. The ones we need to reach took away the other meaning. Beyond simply missing the point, many of them are now inoculated against the point.


    Now comes the introspective part of the post. This is about how the meme and surrounding discourse made me feel and why. I don’t claim to know how it made most people feel or why. This is just one person’s feelings, motivated by their specific perspective and lifetime of experience. And that is the first point: there is a huge landscape of possible thoughts someone can have to the meme, of which I had a few. The meme, however, forces me to project all of those thoughts into a single decision: man or bear.

    This is not a criticism of the discourse around the meme. The meme itself pushes me to pick a side before I read any of the discourse, before I even think about responding to it, before I even start engaging with it on a conscious level. The first thing I need to do is pick a side, and all of my subsequent thoughts are colored by that initial binary.

    I picked man. And that hurts; because my tribe picked bear. And so, I find myself being “part of the problem”, and being in the camp that is identified by an ideology that I do not like and is against my values. And that hurts.

    I recognized that engaging with the meme was not healthy, but the algorithms are too powerful, so I kept reengaging and disengaging as it kept getting shoved back into my face. And the meme picked at a lot of other scars I have.

    Many commentators have described the dichotomy as man=literal thinking and bear=metaphorical thinking. I have nothing novel to contribute to that analysis, but it is a good framing for this point. Growing up, I was very much “literal thinking” kind of kid. I still am a “literal thinking” kind of person, but it is my childhood experience that matters here. It was clear to me from a young age that my kind of thinking was not welcome, and so I learned to keep my thoughts to myself. When I did share them, they were beated down, and I never quite understood why. The discourse around this meme pokes at those old scar, and that hurts.

    Growing up, I never really understood this whole boy vs girl thing. Sure, I understood that there were some clear physical differences, and could easily classify people into boys and girls. And I understood that I got classified with boys. What I didn’t understand was such a big deal. Why did the girls get one room, and the boys another. Why the girls have their set of cliques and the boys have theirs. Why the girls got to wear nice clothing while I was stuck in a stupid suit and tie. For a long time, I thought everyone was simply acting. That no one wanted to be the one to say that the emperor has no clothes. And so, I acted. The few times I tried talking about, the adults would just say that I am trying to “be difficult”; that I do not actually believe what I was saying. In high school, I learned about transgender people. That was enough for me to logically convince myself that gender must be a real thing. After all, if everyone was just acting anyway, why would so many people insist on acting as the wrong one. I never really internalized that lesson, but the logical knowledge was enough to let me compartmentalize it and just go along to get along. Most of the time. This kind of gender essentialism discourse forces those boxes back to being the center of conversation, which pokes at those old scars, and that hurts.

    Several months ago, there was a very moving article posted in one of the trans communities. Musings of a trans man wrestling with many of the same issues I talked about. How he had to spend his childhood acting a gender he didn’t feel. How the exact same aspects of his self would have been received so differently if he was born a different gender. How he had to deal with the cognitive dissonance that comes from believing in, belonging to, and benefiting a movement that is in many ways between oblivious to and hostile of anyone who is not cisgendered [0]. In reading that article, for the first time I can recall, I felt heard. Someone put so many of my own thoughts and experiences down on paper. Someone else read that and thought it was so good that they had to share it with their community. And that community was unanimous in accepting it.

    And so, I opened up. I shared my own thoughts. Not all my thoughts. But there was one thread running through all of the original article that really spoke to me that I wanted to crystallize and explore. Overall, I was agreeing with the same piece that everyone else was agreeing with, just doing so through my own lense.

    Then, this happened (direct quote from the 1 response I got. Spoilered because even copying it was lightly triggering for me):

    spoiler

    Oh come the fuck on. Just shupt up, dude. “Not all men” is just a generally shitty response that shifts conversations about toxic masculinity, SA etc. away from those affected. It centers men in a conversation about issues that disproportionately harm women and nonbinary people. It is the telltale sign of men refusing to take responsibility for their own participation in coercive patriarchal structures, a horribly dumb behavior as patriarchy is provably harmful to men. Yet you folks can’t stop defending it and downplaying your complicity in it.

    Notably, this is a thread about transmasculinity and the difficulties of having masculinity as a transition goal in a culture that has deeply contaminated masculinity to create oppressive structures and you dipshit barge in here to NOT ALL MEN this. You walk into a trans space and turn it into a platform for liberal antifeminism. Fuck you, you disgusting debate pervert, crawl back to reddit you stupid shit.

    Also fuck yourself doubly for being a cis shit that tries to have an opinion about trans issues AND COMPLETELY IGNORES ANYTHING TRANS REALTED ABOUT THEM, i’ll file another report of your shitty post. We never should have federated with your shitty instance full of wehrmacht apologists, fuck you.

    I reported that poster. Some time later, I discovered that I was now banned from the server. I had finally found my tribe. The most my tribe of any my tribe I had seen yet. I came out of my shell, spoke a little bit of my thoughts. And I was pushed back down, exiled from the tribe, and told to go back to the others. And that hurt. Also, getting called “cis” as a slur really pokes at the non-binary scar I talked about earlier, and that hurts.

    And so, in comes the bear meme. Almost surgically designed to poke at all of those scars. And it hurts

    What am I supposed to do when somethings hurts? Do I go to my tribe and vent? I can see a few brace (or stupid) posters in the various comments section expressing some thoughts similar to my own; but overall my tribe was united in saying that those posters were “the problem”. And that hurts.

    [0] I really do not want to go into the merits of those criticisms, as I do not think it is actually relevant to this post. Also, the original article does it better than I can.

    • spujb@lemmy.cafeOP
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      2 months ago

      Oh my gosh. Thank you for sharing this.

      I won’t lie, I don’t share a lot of experiences with you and others who are generously taking part in this post. But as this all has played out I recognized the absolute need for a post like this — separate from the memes, separate from potentially speaking over women, because there is a lot of unspoken pain.

      This comment made my cry, friend. It is obscenely and heartbreakingly ironic the level of lashing out men can receive for simply stating their lived truth in the world of today. And your story is certainly a brutish example of that. I hope that you found some catharsis and relief having expressed your story here, and I hope that this can be a start of some continued recovering and healing both for you and the others in this community.

      Sending love 💕

  • jjjalljs@ttrpg.network
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    2 months ago

    Can you fix your links so they’re not absolute links, but are the way Lemmy wants them so you stay on your instance when you click them, please?

  • No_@lemm.ee
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    2 months ago

    You’ve created an echo chamber where you simply “❌ removed by moderator” every dissenting opinion.

    Way to call yourselves understanding lmao. You just want to spread propaganda.

    • spujb@lemmy.cafeOP
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      2 months ago

      the comments which were removed were all personal attacks which directly violates the community rules.

      it is absolutely possible to voice dissent without personal attacks.

    • spujb@lemmy.cafeOP
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      2 months ago

      Rule 3: Assume good faith.

      Do not call other submitters’ personal experiences into question.

      If women’s personal experiences lead them to make a choice, we are not downplaying that as “hallucinatory” in this community. This is unwelcome behavior.

      • Jafoo@lemmy.world
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        2 months ago

        “Do not call other submitters’ personal experiences into question”

        I.E. If a chick or dude claims to have been abducted by a UFO, had their sex organs examined in a wide variety of ways which defy the laws of basic biology, and given birth/fathered a few million human/alien hybrids, don’t so much as wonder to oneself: “Is it also possible that this person’s story is a prank, or that the tale they’re telling is a byproduct of schizophrenia?”

        Pursuit of the truth, no matter where it leads, and how uncomfortable what we find might makes us feel momentarily is the stuff of The Dark Ages

        • Skua@kbin.social
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          2 months ago

          If someone says something like that, there’s no point interacting with them anyway. You’re not going to persuade them that it didn’t happen if they truly believe it, and you’re not going to gain anything by attempting to do so.

          Either way, in your first comment you’re complaining about feelings and behaviours resulting from entirely plausible experiences, not about experiences that are themselves implausible.

          • Jafoo@lemmy.world
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            2 months ago

            Beyond that, it’s no one who isn’t a board certified shrink’s role to persuade someone that what they believe may not be a perception or outright fantasy

            • BearOfaTime@lemm.ee
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              2 months ago

              Nah.

              Allowing others to continue in their delusions is abuse.

              If I don’t know you, I’ll just let you go on with your life. But I’m not letting friends or family continue with their delusions.

              I won’t tell them they’re wrong, just explore their delusions to hopefully help them come to their own conclusions.

              In my family there are mentally ill, genetic disorders and neuro-atypicals. I deal with this all the time. It’s challenging. But it’s a responsibility we all share in the family.

              • Jafoo@lemmy.world
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                2 months ago

                We all look forward to the day where the euphemism “neuro atypical” gets left in the late 2010s, where it fucking belongs

  • Jafoo@lemmy.world
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    2 months ago

    “Creating a Safe Space”

    Luckily, we’re on a website and not in Gaza whilst The IDF carpet bombs the piss out of that poor corner of the globe yet again, or in the MS-13 controlled slums of El Salvador, where physical safety really is more non-existent than clothes on the body of Sydney Sweeney. Words we’re reading off a screen ain’t sticks nor stones, thus it’s physically impossible for them to shatter our bones into a gazillion fragments

    We couldn’t be safer