The difference is consent.
It's Christmas -- so let the "annual debate" about Baby, It's Cold Outside commence.
On the one side, critics argue that consent is sexy (which it totally is -- asking for permission doesn't "kill the mood," it just establishes clearly that the woman does or does not want to do something), and the guy in that song is super inappropriate (which he totally is -- I think a guy has the right to ask for something once, but if the woman says no, you stop trying to force her).
On the other side, people say that it's "just words" (which it is -- I'm all for freedom of speech, and would rather date someone who's empirically correct than politically correct) and that other stuff they play on the radio -- specifically, misogynistic and lewd rap lyrics -- are much worse.
This last argument is the one I can't really get on-board with, because I feel like if that's your opinion, you're missing the point.
People don't dislike Baby, It's Cold Outside because it's lewd -- they dislike it because the woman's consent and agency is clearly being ignored.
Do I think it's totally disgusting when Nicki Minaj or some other trashy rapper raps about eating ass? Absolutely.
But... grown adults can consent to whatever gross, disease-spreading deviancies they want. (Contrary to what some feminists seem to think, adult women can give consent.)
Whether we should play such songs on the radio, let children listen to such lyrics, whether it promotes unhealthy attitudes about sexuality or creates a toxic culture for certain groups... that's a different issue from whether a man should respect a woman's no.
These are all valid questions. Nevertheless, the issue isn't sex. It's consent.
You all know I have a thick skin. (See also: The Orgasm Gap is Real -- But Don't Blame It On the Patriarchy; How NOT To Be The Girl From 'Cat Person'; Why I Dressed As Microaggressions for Halloween; When Did Colleges Become Preschools?; and so many more.)
But even I hate Baby, It's Cold Outside. I'm not going to boycott any radio station that plays it or sign any petitions. But I will walk out on you if you choose to sing this song at karaoke. I will veto you if you try to add it to a playlist. And I may leave a snarky comment if I see you post something like this on Facebook.
Though something like this, I could get behind:
Because the way the man acts in that song is just atrocious.
Some people argue that culturally, historically, it meant something different, because "a woman had to pretend to resist" for cultural and historical reasons. Sure. I mean, I once wrote in Quillette that we'd literally have to rename every building on every campus if we judged historical figures by modern standards.
But even if that's true, and the woman was just pretending to say no... which -- STILL. SO GROSS. In the (I guess now ironic?) words of Louis C.K., "I'm not gonna rape you on the off-chance that you're into that shit!"
Whatever its historic origins, the song still reminds me of more modern dudes than I can even remember. Dudes I have had to repeatedly say the same thing over and over to. Dudes I've had to shout at, scream at, shove -- even threaten with weapons -- because they wouldn't listen to me when I said, "No."
"Stop following me."
"I don't want you to walk me back to my apartment."
"I don't want to kiss you."
(Fun hint: if you had to grab her by the back of the head and force her, or if you had to surprise her, it wasn't a consensual kiss. But here's how to know exactly when and when not to kiss a girl.)
Even if you think the woman is just being coy when she rejects your advances, you basically have a moral obligation to ignore her passive aggression and take what she says at face value.
Especially considering the alternative could be jail time.
If for some reason, you actually like the song for its musicality (or lack thereof), there are some awesome alternatives you can check out this year.
1. Lydia Liza & Josiah Lemanski's cover, Baby, It's Cold Outside (consent).
2. Baby, Just GO Outside, by The Holderness Family.
3. Christmas Sweatz, by Rhett & Link.
And, of course, coming soon, MY original Christmas song:
4. Make 'Em All Believe.
I'm working on recording it. For now, check out this (flawed, but still hopefully sort of fun) version I played at an open mic last week. The lyrics are available at If You Want to Make Someone Creative, Tie A Hand Behind Their Back.
Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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