Women shouldn’t have to say “I have a boyfriend” to get a guy to leave her alone. PHOTO COURTESY PIXABAY

Ladies. What if I told you that there was a universal excuse to get that overzealous guy to take a clue and leave you alone? Well, it already exists. The bad news is, it shouldn’t. The “Sorry, I have a boyfriend” is a classic one-liner that is effective in repelling unwanted suitors. However, a boyfriend shouldn’t be keeping a guy from continuing to flirt with you. Whether the boyfriend is real or not, your reluctance to pursue anything further with that guy should be enough for him to scatter.

If girls are aggressively hit on, they immediately turn to the “I have a boyfriend” excuse because they know it will work. So why is “Sorry, I have a boyfriend” so much more effective than any other excuse? It implies that the girl is another boy’s, and therefore not to be messed with. It is not to say that boys are threatened by what another boy has, but that they value their “possessions,” in this case a girl, more than they value the girl herself. Unfortunately, it is way more effective for a girl to say she has a boyfriend, whether she does or not, to get a guy to leave her alone rather than just saying “no.”

This excuse further reflects the overall value of a girl’s verbal “no.” In context, a “no” is frequently not enough for a boy to stop pursuing a girl. That “no” might be interpreted as “I’m just playing hard to get,” or “I like being a chase.” But truly, it just means “no.” This one word should suffice. Unfortunately, it often does not.

The recent #MeToo campaign that has been trending on social media as a way to get women to speak out about their experiences with sexual assault is appropriately named. “Me too” has echoed all over social media as a way to show how frequently a woman’s “no” is abused, and how her silence is taken as a “yes.” There is no excuse that can prevent sexual assault. There is no excuse that can substitute for a “no.” There is no excuse that should have to.

A power struggle clearly persists between men and women, and mutual trust and respect must be earned to equalize the existing hierarchy.

Ladies. Give your “no” power. Use it over your real or make-believe boyfriend because it is the only word that demands respect of your consent and the only word that establishes trust from the man who acknowledges its power.