“Baby It’s Cold” Needs to Warm Up

Monday, 8 December 2014

In the spirit of Happy Holidays, I feel the need to post about the song, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The song has been covered by everyone from Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton (love them) to Michael Buble. The premise of the tune (as you likely know) is that the singers are innocent lovers at his place and she is ready to go home. Although she tells him it is time for her to go, he wants her to stay. They go back and forth in a cute dialogue until he convinces her that it is too cold for her to go home. You know the chorus (sing if if you know it), “But babyyyyy it’s cooolddddd outsiiiiiide!”

After so many sexual assaults reported on campuses across the U.S. but not prosecuted by the alleged victims (usually on advice from the District Attorney), I have been thinking about the now popular Twitter hashtag: #nomeansno. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is one of those songs that may need to warm up to modern times (so to speak).

Look, I’m not completely unreasonable. The song is about snow and cold and romance. I understand that in the day and age when this song was written there was probably no way that a woman was going to stay over at a man’s house that she wasn’t married to anyway and maybe (possibly) he would force her to. I’m just a bit troubled that this is a song that we still hear in the grocery stores, at parties, on the radio, and our children and teens also hear it throughout every Christmas season.

Let’s consider the overall message. Imagine this exchange between your daughter and her boyfriend or a college Freshmen and her Junior holiday party date.

Her: I really can't stay.
Him: But it's cold outside.
Her: I've got to go.
Him: But it's cold outside.

Her: My mom is going to worry.
Him: Beautiful, what's your hurry?
Her: My dad is going to worry.
Him: Check out my awesome fireplace.

Her: Well maybe I’ll stay for one more.
Him: Play some Pandora and I’ll get the drinks.  

Her: Our classmates that live next door are going to gossip.
Him: Who cares? It’s bad out.
Her: What is in this drink?
Him: You aren’t going to be able to get a cab.

Her: I need to say no. No. No.
Him: Come here, a little closer.
Her: I said no.
Him: Why are you trying to hurt my pride?
Her: I really can’t stay.

The conversation goes on and on. He finally manipulates her into staying even though she didn’t want to. The other HIGHLY troubling part of this song is the line, “Say, what’s in this drink?” Did he drug her? That is what's implied here. It’s a bit too creepy for me to still think that it is just a cute song.

Maybe you think I’m overreacting. No problem. You are certainly entitled to your opinion and you are welcome to share it here. But please allow me one last parting thought: if you are with children or teens and this song comes on, why not create a teaching moment? “Have you listened to the words of this song? It might seem silly because it is just a holiday song but - she says she wants to go home and rather than convince her to stay, the right thing to do would be invite her back on another day. If she wants to go home, she should say goodnight and leave. No means no.”

In my younger years, I worked to please other people to an unhealthy extent. Our young ladies need to be confident in standing up for themselves when they are ready to go home (literally and figuratively).  

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