Monday, December 12, 2016

Why "Baby It's Cold Outside" Is Not About Rape


It's been said that today's world is getting too darn politically correct for its own good; it seems nearly everything today can be taken out of context and offend somebody. And for some reason, many Millennials seem easily offended by a lot of stuff. It's gotten so bad that many big-name stand-up comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock have stopped performing at college campuses because too many students can't take even the slightest off-color jokes.

And what's the latest thing that's gotten their diapers in a twist this time? Well, the classic holiday tune "Baby It's Cold Outside", of course! You know, the playful, witty, sexy song that features banter between a male and female vocalist. A song that's been recorded by everyone from Dean Martin to Tom Jones for nearly a quarter-century without ever raising an eyebrow before. 

This is a song about date rape. Did you know that?

Well, at least that's what two 20-something singer-songwriters from Minnesota believe. Last week The Huffington Post reported how Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski recorded what the HP writer describes as updated "adorably consensual" lyrics--lines that now include such cringe-worthy gems as, "You reserve the right to say 'no'", "Text me at your earliest convenience," and "How about the Cheesecake Factory?" Here's the song if you enjoy abusing your ears, or if you're just curious:


A lot have people have tried to defend this reworked song by saying it's a parody. That would be true if it were actually funny....although I found the Cheesecake Factory line rather unintentionally funny. Also, is it just me...or is the new version of the song now promoting drinking and driving?

Back to the HP piece; it actually starts off with this sentence: "If you've ever listened to the classic Christmas song 'Baby It's Cold Outside,' then you know it's a really screwed-up tune."

Actually, I didn't know. Because it's NOT a really screwed-up tune, and it's not creepy, unless you have some sort of twisted, perverted psyche that believes it is about date rape. 

These people don't know the history of the song, and apparently they didn't bother to look it up. Nor are they perhaps that acquainted with the social norms of the time. 

In the 1940s, which was before the sexual revolution, pre-martial sex was socially unacceptable and generally frowned upon. And that's what the gist of the original song is about -- the man wants her to stay the night, using the snow and cold outside as the perfect excuse. And I believe the woman wants to stay and fool around with him, but she's gently rebuffing his pleas because she's concerned about her reputation and what the neighbors and her family may think of her ("The neighbors might think," "My maiden aunt's mind is vicious," "There's bound to be talk tomorrow.")

"Baby It's Cold Outside" was written in 1944 by acclaimed Broadway composer Frank Loesser, the same guy that wrote the score to Guys and Dolls and gave us classics such as "Heart and Soul" and "On a Slow Boat to China." Initially, Loesser would perform the song with his wife at parties, where it always wowed their friends.

Frank Loesser's son, John, was interviewed about the song by the Palm Bean Post in 2010 that was reprinted on the official site for his dad. From the article:

“My father wrote that song as a piece of special material for he and my mother to do at parties,” says John Loesser, who runs the Lyric Theatre in Stuart, and is the son of legendary composer Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.)

Frank Loesser’s wife, Lynn, was a nightclub singer who had moved from Terre Haute, Ind. to New York in search of a career. She was singing in a nightclub when she met Frank Loesser around 1930.

The song itself was written in 1944, when Loesser and his wife had just moved into the Hotel Navarro in New York. They gave a housewarming party for themselves and when they did the number, everybody went crazy.

“We had to do it over and over again,” Lynn Loesser told her kids, “and we became instant parlor room stars.”

Performers started to take note of the song, and record covers of it. It's also featured in the 1949 musical comedy Neptune's Daughter as sung by Ricardo Montalb├ín and Esther Williams below. And in that movie, it takes an ironic tone since the movie takes place in a warm climate. It also earned Loesser an Academy Award for Best Original Song. 


The one line that the easily offended are extracting as evidence that the song is about date rape is, "Say, what's in this drink?" This line also bothered Liza, who told the Huffington Post, "You never figure out if she gets to go home. You never figure out if there was something in her drink. It just leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth."

(No pun intended, I'm sure.)

Only, "Say, what's in this drink?" had a different meaning in previous decades. If someone were to say it today, we'd think they were asking if someone slipped them a Mickey (date rape substance, for you younger 'uns.) In fact, the phrase was a slang expression that one would use as a joking pre-cover up to any questionable behavior they were about to undertake by consuming alcohol. And that's ALL that it means. 

In fact, the social justice warriors finding offense with this song may be surprised to know that a feminist publication, Persephone Magazine, defended the composition by saying, "It's not a song about rape. It's a song about the desires even good girls have." And as for that line, "What's in that drink?" they had this to say:

“Say, what’s in this drink” is a well-used phrase that was common in movies of the time period and isn’t really used in the same manner any longer. The phrase generally referred to someone saying or doing something they thought they wouldn’t in normal circumstances; it’s a nod to the idea that alcohol is “making” them do something unusual. But the joke is almost always that there is nothing in the drink. The drink is the excuse. The drink is the shield someone gets to hold up in front of them to protect from criticism. And it’s not just used in these sort of romantic situations. I’ve heard it in many investigation type scenes where the stoolpigeon character is giving up bits of information they’re supposed to be protecting, in screwball comedies where someone is making a fool of themselves, and, yes, in romantic movies where someone is experiencing feelings they are not supposed to have.

As for Liza saying we never find out if the woman gets to go home in the song...I think the answer to that one is pretty obvious: she DOESN'T go home! The duet ends with her caving into her desires and both she and the male singer in harmony, belting out the final line, "Baby, it's cold outside!" in unity. 

There's another way of looking at this song: I actually think it was an empowering composition for women at the time. To me, it's about a woman defying the social norms at the time and making her own decision to stay the night. 

So really, I don't understand what the fuss is about with the PC police and insisting that this song is "creepy", but I suspect it'll be coming under fire every year out of ignorance and fear. The good news is, the revamped version is so awful to listen to that it's attracted way more negative comments and thumbs down on YouTube then the righteous rape phobics that actually enjoy listening to it. 

At what point will this PC ridiculousness stop? I predict they'll be coming for "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" next, citing it as promoting elder abuse. Or how about "Santa Baby," which portrays women as gold diggers? 

Well, I'm too over it to find out. I intend to listen to the classic versions of "Baby It's Cold Outside" until my ears fall off. And I suggest, GR readers, that you do the same. 



14 comments:

  1. As you know, I'm completely with you on this, Pam! I can only shake my head in disbelief at some of the nonsense these perpetually offended SJWs come out with. Now, please excuse me while I go listen again to Dean Martin's classic rendition of this great song. :)

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    1. I knew you would chime in, Pete! The whole thing is nonsense, and really shows how ignorant some people are.

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  2. Really? Is this what the PC "digital natives" who have no sense about anything are complaining about? A song with lyrics that could be misconstrued by any millennial with a small brain pan into something awful? Please. These kids nowadays don't know their *** from a hole in the wall. Oops, am I being insensitive for saying so?

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  3. glad i am not the only one who thinks the so called pc cops have finaly gone over board by after all this time and due just to the one line of whats in this drink. think baby its cold out side is about rape when after all the guy is just really telling the lady that she should not go out side in the bad weather wait till morning to be safe. even though we also know they both are trying to resist doing the wild thing with each other

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  4. From my Fscebook...Got opinions about "political correctness?" Pam, whom I have touted as the world's greatest blogger, has a magnificent post. I love it. She writes of Millennials who've got their "diapers in a twist" over a song from 1944.

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  5. "It seems nearly everything today can be taken out of context and offend somebody"

    The "context" of Baby, It's Cold Outside" is 1944. It's 2016. The song itself is "out of context" considering how social norms have changed.

    It seems the whole argument of this blog is that the song is acceptable today because it was in line with the social norms of the time. I'm sorry, that's just not a good argument. Maybe it was about empowering women at the time; however, pestering a woman 100 times to stay when she has made it very clear she wants to leave is not acceptable by today's standards.

    I'll be interested if someone responds based on the merits of my argument rather than dismissing me as an "easily offended millenial" with my "diaper in a twist."

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    1. The woman doesn't want to leave. Even the feminist magazine article that I've linked to in my blog post points that out. She wants to stay, and have sex, but she's concerned about what her family and neighbors will say. I believe that message is very obvious in the original lyrics as well as the fact that she does decide to stay the night because the last line has the couple singing, "it's cold outside" in unison.

      I don't understand why so many social justice warriors are quick to have an issue with this song but no one raised any eyebrows about Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" which refers to women as animals that need domesticating and its accompanying video that features topless models. Or any number of rap songs that refer to women as hos and b*tches.

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    2. "Blurred Lines" has gotten a lot of criticism. I have numerous friends that refuse to listen to it.

      The words "hos" and "b*tches" have been reclaimed somewhat in popular music to become neutral or even positive at times. Similar to how some Trump and Clinton voters were proud to be labeled "deplorables" and "nasty women"

      Also, such music doesn't permeate society to the extent "Baby,It's Cold Outside" does. The song is on the radio, in shopping malls, restaurants, it's everywhere! You really can't get away from it.

      The best way I can sum my feelings is that the message of the song has changed from "It's okay to stay" to "It's not okay to leave."

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Then how come I approved "Unknown's" comment and responded to it before you even left yours? I have to approve comments on posts more than 10 days old because those are the ones that tend to attract spam. And yeah, you are definitely wasting your time considering you're on a blog where the majority of the readers disagree with you.

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  7. Thanks for posting this piece Pam. Yeah the expression "What's in this drink" had a totally different meaning then. It just shows what degree of innocence that we as a society have lost. As to why the SJWs carry on about silly things like this? Well that's what they do. They have to have something to whine about and get triggered about. Basically they are the modern day Puritans - their existence depends on making everyone else miserable.

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  8. Note to the young generation that objects to this song on the basis of its falsely perceived politically incorrect lyrics:

    Baby, it's cold outside, but whether you're gay or lesbian its warm in someone's pants...

    What's in this drink? If I were being made by someone I found attractive, I would hope it would be about 40 proof so I could get some liquid encouragement...

    You really can't stay..a virgin forever...

    Yes, people 70 years ago liked to have sex just as much, or more than the current generation. It's called the Baby Boom. How do you think the world is so damned overpopulated now?

    Your Iphone and webcamera does not substitute very well for having a real penis or vagina during real sexual intercourse. Stop posting your solo porn on internet websites and go find someone to love.

    If you are offended by what I have said, then you likely are a sheltered innocent who has been raised in a plastic cocoon, and whose parents knew exactly what gender you were, at least, being born as, and who took out home equity loans to spoil your special ass and send you to college in a bio-hazard germ suit. Need I say more about this non-issue of a song? Aren't there bigger problems in our insane world to be concerned about?


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  9. Great post! They are the perpetually offended.

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  10. Another great version of the song is by James Taylor and Natalie Cole. Worth a listen.

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