“You actually have a boyfriend? Okay. Sure you do,” he said to me sarcastically, shooting me a sort of knowing, condescending look as he quickly walked out of Starbucks. As he left, I continued sitting at my table with my homework, confused and uncomfortable.
Two minutes earlier, as I sat reading “Hamlet” for English, a guy approached my table and started talking about Shakespeare and the works. The conversation was brief and unimpressionable, until he asked me out for the next day. I told him no, sorry, I have a boyfriend. And his reaction of acting like I had done something wrong caught me off guard.
This is just one of a few instances in which this has happened to me, let alone other girls I know. Which is why, while it might seem funny in a simple tweet, the Twitter “I have a boyfriend” joke epidemic devalues girls and their views on relationships.
The “I have a boyfriend” Twitter trend began earlier this summer. The tweet itself is usually composed of commentary on an everyday occurrence in which the girl responds “I have a boyfriend”, seemingly because Twitter and the world have heard this answer so often, they think making it into a joke is harmless. Right? Nope. Definitely wrong.
These tweets showcase girls as beings only interested in relationships and seeing people simply as love interests or irrelevant, which by 2016, the Twitterverse should know not to be true. It perpetuates the damaging idea of being “boy-crazy”, as well as creating an image that the first thing on the tip of a girl’s tongue, the first thing on her mind at any given second is her relationship status. The world is full of successful and hard-working girls who have about a million other things to think about, such as but not limited to their dreams, jobs, families, ideas and of course, their education. To promote the thought that girls constantly place human interactions only in terms of romantic relationships is ridiculous and sexist.
When girls do say “I have a boyfriend” in response to someone asking them out or coming on to them, it comes as a result of several things. A lot of girls are simply being honest, because yes, it is possible for a girl with a significant other to be somewhere in public by herself or just with her friends. Growing up, girls are also taught to be polite and nonconfrontational, making an outright “No, I’m not interested in you” or “You’re making me uncomfortable, please leave” seem rude to them, even when it shouldn’t. Saying that you have a boyfriend, whether or not you do, is an easier, kinder way to turn somebody down or diffuse a situation. Yes, it shouldn’t have to be that way, but until it is taught that it’s okay to dislike someone, to say “no thanks” to being friends with someone on the playground that isn’t nice, and that it’s not okay for boys to be mean to girls because they have a crush on them, it takes a long time and a lot of adjusting to let yourself be okay with being direct about your feelings, even if they aren’t always positive.
These tweets are harsh and dangerous to the well-being and already stereotyped versions of how girls relate to boys and romance. If a girl has a boyfriend, is not interested in you, or if she feels uncomfortable, she should be able to say “I have a boyfriend” if she is not comfortable with saying no. And she shouldn’t have to feel bad about it either.