I consider myself a friendly person. I welcome chit-chat from strangers, especially when going about the obligatory errands of my day. It’s when the conversation puts me on the defensive that I find my inner feminist coming out.
I was getting gas on my drive home a couple days ago when a fellow, who we can call Mike, walked up to me and proceeded to offer his assistance.
What I did not appreciate about Mike’s advances was, despite my obvious discomfort from him commenting on my body, my actions and my tattoo, he would not accept the fact that I was not interested.
“So, do you have a boyfriend or can I call you, Hannah?” Mike asked.
“You can call me Hannah, but I’m not interested. Sorry, ” I responded.
“Oh, so you have a boyfriend?” Mike persisted.
At this point, I was very put off by Mike’s advances. I shouldn’t have to have an excuse if I am not interested. I shouldn’t have to play the “boyfriend card,” something that first came to my attention from reading a column in LunaLuna magazine by Alecia Lynn Eberhardt called “Stop Saying I Have a Boyfriend.”
Eberhardt’s main point was from a post that had been a topic of conversation on feminist Tumblr feeds:
Male privilege is “I have a boyfriend” being the only thing that can actually stop someone from hitting on you because they respect another male-bodied person more than they respect your rejection/lack of interest.
Mike was doing just that. Rather than recognizing me as a person with a voice who was not interested, he would only walk away when I spoke of my “boyfriend.”
Driving home, the encounter brought to mind the Lily Allen song, “Knock ’em Out,” where Allen describes a similar experience.
She tells the typical story of boy meets girl, boys asks for girl’s number, girl is not interested and boy will not relent.
“‘Yeah can I take your digits?'” Allen sings. “And you’re like, ‘No, not in a million years, you’re nasty. Please leave me alone.'”
First of all, loving the British jargon. I think if prospective suitors used the word ‘digits’ when asking for my number, I would think twice. Really, that’s not what the song is about. She gives several examples women can use when rejecting a guy hitting on them.
“Try desperately to think of the politest way to say, just get out my face, just leave me alone,” she sings. “And no you can’t have my number. ‘Why?’ Because I’ve lost my phone.”
The excuses she comes up with are pretty entertaining. “Oh yeah, actually yeah I’m pregnant, having a baby in like 6 months so no … Nah, I’ve gotta go because my house is on fire … I’ve got herpes, err no, I’ve got syphilis … AIDS!”
Allen’s not the only one who makes excuses when it comes to unwanted advances. My grandma used to tell her prospective beau’s, “Sorry, I can’t tonight. I have to wash my hair.” If you Google “how to avoid getting hit on,” most of the excuses will include mentioning a boyfriend or significant other. When asking my friends, some were partial to the “I have a boyfriend,” or my personal (least) favorite, “I’m a lesbian.”
I can see the benefit of using an excuse, and I have to admit, I’ve used them all. The thing is, an excuse should not be needed. You do not need to apologize. You do not need to provide an imaginary excuse. It’s not about being offensive.
The reason that someone should stop hitting on a girl isn’t because she’s “owned” by someone else but because she is not interested. Next time, don’t play the “boyfriend card.” Not being interested is good enough.
Collegian News Editor Hannah Hemperly doesn’t want you to ask her for her number but she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.