Any woman who's ever received unwanted sexual attention from a man in the street/a coffee shop/a bar will know that there's one pretty effective way to get them out of your hair: "Sorry, I have a boyfriend."
More often than not this go-to excuse is a complete and utter lie, used by single women as much as those in a relationship.
But why most of us adopt this phrase without thinking, one woman is questioning why we choose to lie over telling the truth.
Writing for Femsplain, Jessie Passananti says that “Sorry, I have a boyfriend" is a far easier response to unwanted attention than: "Do not touch me without my permission."
"This lie is common for a reason," she writes. "Telling another man that you have a boyfriend is the most peaceful and effective method of rejection."
A quick scroll through Twitter shows that this is all-too-common an excuse:
But Passananti says using this excuse instead of telling the truth has repercussions.
"My invisible shield — a made up boyfriend — establishes that I am off-limits solely because I belong to someone else. The archaic notion of declaring myself as 'taken' is entirely anti-productive," she says.
"By perpetuating this cycle, we’re saying that we’re empty slates to be carved; we’re fair game if we’re not claimed. We are not property, and by establishing ourselves as such, we’re saying that our feelings, notions and perceptions are irrelevant unless complemented by a male’s."
What do you think of Passanti's point? Let us know in the comments below and read the rest of her blog here