Baby It’s Cold Outside
I always liked the sweet flirtatious duet between a man and a woman, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” You know the song. A couple, obviously sexually attracted to each other, ready to break up after, I assume, a night of canoodling is seeking a reason to extend the evening. She sings,
“I really must go” and he responds,
“But baby it’s cold outside”
and they go back and forth with it ultimately ending with both singing in unison,
“Ah but it’s cold outside.”
Recently several young people have mentioned to me that this song was offensive. The guy is overly aggressive and does not respect the girl’s wishes to leave…apparently to millennials, the guy is creepy and the song is an anthem for date rape.
Why has this song, which has survived and been popular for so many years, suddenly being interpreted as offensive?
I thought about it, and in one respect he is a little pushy, and it could be a bit creepy, but then I think of it in the context of the time the song was first popular. This song came out in 1944.
In 1944 aggressive men were called mashers. They didn’t have date rape drugs, they had alcohol. In 1944 no meant no, but only if it was said with authority. If it was not respected, it was followed by a slap. Any sexual activity after the slap was molestation.
Sex was not casual in 1944. It often ended in pregnancy and if it came before marriage, it often resulted in marriage. It was serious and perhaps taken more seriously than today.
When I hear “Baby it’s cold outside” I don’t hear creepy, I hear flirtation and indecision. “I really must go” is sung in a flirtatious manner, not in an I mean business manner. The fact that today’s youth think the man is overly aggressive and this song is an anthem for date rape points to a difference in sexual attitudes today.
Today’s youth are more “promiscuous” than they were in 1944. I put that word in quotes because it is almost not a valid word today, it does not have the same connotation as it did in 1944. Today’s youth can be freer in their sexuality, for many reasons, not the least that there are fewer consequences to sex today.
Men today have a greater expectation of casual sex than in 1944, they may be more embolden because of that expectation. Women are perhaps a little less aggressive in their rebuffs, not wanting to come off as prudish. Sexual signals are just not as clear as they were in 1944.
When I hear this song, I hear a man wanting an excuse to neck with his best gal a little longer, and a lady also wanting to extend a kissing session but not wanting to seem to obvious. They do a flirtatious dance of why she should stay and why she needs to go, both wanting the same thing and ending in using the excuse of the cold having her stay longer.
Millennials hear a man being aggressive and a woman saying no. He does not give in because he does not respect “no means no.” Millennials hear the lady staying against her will and probably having date rape sex.
In 1944, no meant maybe, NO! meant NO! and a sharp slap against the face meant anything further was creepy. For the most part the sharp slap was respected.
I think of this song as a cute, sweet romantic duet. Perhaps, if halfway through the song there was the sound of a sharp slap and he responded with,
“Ah come on baby you know you want it and it is cold outside”
then I too would think it a really creepy song.
Different times, different interpretations.
This cranky old man in no way advocates aggressive sexual behavior and fully understands and agrees with the meaning of no. Please do not interpret this post as being in disagreement with the young ladies of today and their attitude against aggressive behavior.