Baby, it’s Just a Song: “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” Amidst the #MeToo Culture

Olivia Pan ’20

Chief Opinions Editor

Recently, a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio, WDOK Christmas 102.1, made the decision to ban playing the classic Christmas hit, “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.” Radio host Glen Anderson issued a statement explaining the station’s decision, explaining, “Now, I do realize that when the song was written in 1944, it was a different time, but now while reading it, it seems very manipulative and wrong.  The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended, but in a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place” (EntertainmentWeekly). The song has become rather controversial in recent years, with many, including Urban Dictionary, labeling it as the “date-rape song”, specifically referencing the infamous line sung by the female, “Say, what’s in this drink?”

Now, I am a supporter of #MeToo and have family and friends who have been directly affected by sexual harassment and or violence. It’s no secret that I’m a liberal feminist. However, even I have to draw the line somewhere amidst a crazy amount of political correctness. I, personally, have always enjoyed listening to this song around the holidays. However, we’ve now turned what I always interpreted as a playful, flirty song into a foreboding date-rape scene. Remember in 1944, “Say, what’s in this drink?”  referenced a strong cocktail, not a date-rape drug. Although you cannot help but think Bill Cosby at times when the line is sung. It’s a silly song, and that’s all.  And while some may feel the need to dissect a silly Christmas tune in the context of our current #MeToo climate, I am more concerned with the blatant misogyny and sexism in rap music that gets blasted on the radio all year round. It’s a little confusing to me why people are criticizing lyrics like “I ought to say no, no, no, sir”, while lyrics like “Bitches ain’t sh*t but hoes and tricks / Lick on these n*ts and suck the d*ck” (courtesy of Snoop Dogg), are seemingly fine with everyone? Hmmm. Possibly we should consider banning rap music, the majority of which objectifies and bashes women, so long as we’re examining problematic songs. Regardless, I would hope parents are not looking to music to teach their children about consent and how women should be treated. That is their job.

Baby It’s Cold Outside also has versions in which the female is aggressively pursuing the male to stay and hang out. This song and the videos that accompany it show playful banter between two people who are attracted to one another. And given the 1940’s era in which the song originated, the woman, (a good girl) insists on going home as all good girls were supposed to do. Thankfully, we now live in a time when girls and women can and should own their sexuality and be allowed to stay, go, and engage as they wish. The #MeToo movement has shown us that in real life we are not there yet at all and not all women and girls had a choice. That’s another article or rather book/s.

As for this Christmas song I don’t feel the need to interpret it as anything other than what it’s always been in my mind: a delightful Christmas tune that’s been covered as a duet by every artist imaginable, from James Taylor and Natalie Cole to Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel. Playful fun banter with no underlying threat: something it appears that men and women may be losing the art of engaging in. 

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