Baby It’s Cold Outside is a Christmas duet you’ve probably never thought twice about.
The song, recorded for the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter, won an Oscar for the Best Original Song in 1950, but is now causing controversy over it’s questionable message.
A radio station in Cleveland, Ohio, has decided to remove the traditional Christmas song from its playlist following complaints it’s inappropriate and at odds with the #MeToo movement.
The entire premise of the song is a woman who’s trying to get home, and a man who keeps butting in, telling her to stay, taking her coat off, and encouraging her to drink with him despite her saying no.
Of course, the song is a product of its time and in that context can appear harmless, but to keep celebrating a song which pushes that narrative when there are plenty other songs to replace it with would be questionable.
The lyrics to the song include:
I really can’t stay (Baby don’t hold out), I ought to say no, no, no (Mind if I move in closer), Say, what’s in this drink?
Some people have said the line ‘Say, what’s in this drink?’ eludes to date rape, but one Twitter user said it’s a 1930s phrase.
Jen Kirkman said on Twitter:
I’m so tired of this. The song seems odd now not cuz it’s about coercing sex but about a woman who knows her reputation is ruined if she stays. “Say what’s in this drink” is an old movie line from the 30’s that means “I’m telling the truth.” She wanted to get down and stay over. [sic]
He is offering her an excuse she can use. “But it’s cold outside.” And she’s explaining to him that excuse doesn’t work when you’re a woman who has to deal with what the neighbors think. The song has a lot to teach us about how society views women’s sexuality. But the lesson of this song is NOT that it’s about forcing a woman into sex. [sic]
If you want to be outraged, be outraged about what the song is actually about – the double standard in regards to sex that women face and how nothing much has changed. And then enjoy the song. It’s a delight. [sic]
The song ends with her joining him in the chorus of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” She’s staying over. She will deal with her Maiden Aunt tomorrow. [sic]
I’m so tired of this. The song seems odd now not cuz it’s about coercing sex but about a woman who knows her reputation is ruined if she stays. “Say what’s in this drink” is an old movie line from the 30’s that means “I’m telling the truth.” She wanted to get down and stay over. https://t.co/3TaQbUSoB1
— JEN KIRKMAN (@JenKirkman) December 1, 2018
A few people weren’t so convinced about Jen’s explanation of the drink line, with one saying:
Also not convinced by your explanation of the “say what’s in this drink” line either. I mean he’s literally just poured her a drink in the previous line… [sic]
Sondra Miller, president of Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, said the song ‘pushed the lines of consent’.
Let us not forget, this song is the one Jovie is singing in Elf when Buddy surprises her in the shower. That seen is the funniest and most memorable moment in that movie, but it dosn't exactly give young boys a good message about boundaries.
— Alex The Kid Seymour (@Alexkidseymour) December 1, 2018
She explained to local news channel WJW:
The character in the song is saying ‘no’, and they’re saying well, ‘Does no really mean yes?’
And I think in 2018 what we know is consent is ‘yes’ and if you get a ‘no’, it means ‘no’ and you should stop right there.
Some people think it celebrates outdated and sexist mindsets of past times, others think it’s ‘political correctness gone mad’.
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