“Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Isn’t About What You Think
"Baby, It's Cold Outside," used to be one of my favorite winter-time songs. I loved the melody and the dueling points of view. But when I got old enough, it started to weird me out. I thought to myself "That's really strange that he's not taking no for an answer... Didn't we just learn that no means no?"
So, I'm sorry to say, for a few years I stopped enjoying the holiday tune. Every time it came on, despite my love for the melody, I disparaged it as being an anthem for pushy men who refuse to listen when a woman says no. It creeped me out to see it being lauded, and I wondered what was wrong with society that something so blatantly cruel could be so popular.
I'm not afraid to admit that I was ignorant. I was listening to the words, but I didn't realize the story behind them. This year, I'm re-embracing what was once my favorite Christmas Carol, and I encourage you to do the same, especially when you hear the story behind the lyrics, and the empowering message it gives to women- at least on one level.
At the time the song was written, 1944 to be exact, the culture was vastly different than today's scene. "Good Girls," weren't supposed to be at a man's house unchaperoned, and it was common to refuse advances, even when the young woman wanted to do anything but. Many of the lines in the song are playful references to this, especially the infamous "Hey, what's in this drink?" The line as it was written was a well-known punchline of a joke, in which the woman might have been drinking something completely non-alcoholic, but looking for an excuse to be able to act on her desires.
So this song, while it comes across differently in today's culture, is actually a playful dance between two smitten adults, though the times dictated that the lady couldn't be as forthright about her wishes. It's about looking for the perfect excuse to give so she can keep enjoying his company, and in this case, it's the cold weather outside.
One commentator even says that it's a feminist anthem about a woman taking back her autonomy from an oppressive cultural system. However, the fact remains that- when a woman was expected to say no, there wasn't always a way for her to give an actual, honest, hard no. So it wasn't perfect, but it's not a "Date Rape Song," as many people in 2018 like to say.
Enjoy that romantic, playful song this holiday season! Just know that, today, no means no and all that.