“Baby It’s Cold Outside” is a Christmas time favorite. It’s been covered by loads of artists over the years like Tom Jones, Dolly Parton, and Michael Bublé.
The song was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser.
Though people associate the song with Christmas or the holiday season the song makes no mention of any holiday. It’s about a man who tries to convince his female guest to stay the night because of the harsh winter weather outside… or at least that’s his excuse.
But now in the age of #MeToo we are hyperaware of rape culture and some say that the former holiday classic is, well, rapey.
If you listen to the lyrics, it isn’t hard to see how one could come to that conclusion.
“Say what’s in this drink?”… a roofie?
“Mind if I move in closer”… a least he’s asking for consent.
“What’s the sense of hurtin’ my pride?”… screw your pride.
“Baby don’t hold out”…. creep.
If you see the video from “Neptune’s Daughter,” the 1949 romantic comedy where the song was performed, it’s even worse.
The guy in the video is giving off some MAJOR creep factor.
Then conversely, there’s a woman who’s trying to push up on her male guest… really hard.
It’s kind of hard to argue with. But a Tumblr post by bigbutterandeggman, who claims to be a former English nerd and teacher who is a big fan of jazz from the 30s and 40s, has come to the song’s defense.
In fact, he says it’s a feminist anthem.
He does admit that the sound “sounds” creepy at first but less so when you take a closer look.
He claims that “Hey what’s in this drink” was a stock joke at the time and that the punchline is that there nothing to drink and a lack of alcohol.
He says that this woman is fighting her desire to stay because she is under pressure to be a “good girl.”
“But she’s having a really good time, and she wants to stay, and so she is excusing her uncharacteristically bold behavior (either to the guy or to herself) by blaming it on the drink – unaware that the drink is actually really weak, maybe not even alcoholic at all,” he says. “That’s the joke.”
So he says the joke is about how she’s sober and “about to have awesome consensual sex” and is using the drink to deny her desires so she doesn’t seem like a ho.
He goes on to say that the man is being pushy because he knows that she wants to say but has to give her excuses so she can use one to defend her morality in a world where women are supposed to object men’s advances and not have any sexual desires of their own.
“In this particular case, he’s pretty clearly right, because the woman has a voice, and she’s using it to give all the culturally-understood signals that she actually does want to stay but can’t say so,” bigbutterandeggman says.
She admits that she is only saying no because of societal pressure, “I ought to say no no no” and “at least I’m gonna say that I tried.”
By the end of the song, he says, they are both on the same page which they were the whole time.
“So it’s not actually a song about rape – in fact, it’s a song about a woman finding a way to exercise sexual agency in a patriarchal society designed to stop her from doing so,” bigbutterandeggman says.
“But it’s also, at the same time, one of the best illustrations of rape culture that pop culture has ever produced. It’s a song about a society where women aren’t allowed to say yes. Which happens to mean it’s also a society where women don’t have a clear and unambiguous way to say no,” he says.
A Cleveland radio station never got the memo and stopped playing the song saying “it’s no longer appropriate,” according to CBS News.
But maybe he’s right.
Now that women do live in a society where they are allowed to say yes, maybe the lyrics do come off as rapey?
Reddit can’t seem to make up their mind.
Some people say the song is innocent.
“It doesn’t even sound dubious originally. It sounds like two people who want to stay together making excuses together,” said one Redditor.
“All I’ll say is it’s clear from the tone of her voice in the original that she wasn’t scared or anything and was a bit flirty,” said another
Others say quite the opposite.
“Counterpoint; the song by today’s context doesn’t work, so makes sense to not play it, even if the rant above might be true. Might be,” said one Redditor.
“To be fair tho, that culture of excuses, the so-called ‘masterful advance’, led to the rape culture and ‘when a woman says no she means yes,'” said another.
Here is my favorite response…
“Solid but you can’t expect me to believe that Dean Martin made a non-alcoholic drink.”
So, it seems like this argument will probably continue next Christmas. You can find a non-controversial of the song with some cute kids sung by Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé in case you don’t want to argue about it.
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Source: Idina Menzel