“Baby” Criticism Misplaced

Ava Charlesworth, Staff Writer

In the past month, debate about the popular holiday tune, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” has raged on country radio stations.  Some view the flirtatious lyrics as an “ode to date rape” and sexual pressure, leading to the removal of the song from many radio station play lists.

Seemingly well-intentioned, action like this appears calculated and overtly political.

The controversial duet in question follows an exchange between a man trying to persuade a woman to stay for 1 more drink amid her protests, persuading her through the refrain “it’s cold outside.”

The female vocalist questions, “what’s in this drink?” and relentlessly insists that she must go, repeatedly uttering the words “No, no, no.”

It’s easy to interpret the lyrics as a description of a woman being drugged without her consent, hence the subsequent outrage. Even I understand where the misconception comes from, especially as a woman.

Admittedly, I’ve also never interpreted the song in that way until this year. Even in the age of female empowerment and #MeToo, I just didn’t see the connection.

I was vindicated when the real facts came to light in my research. Susan Loesser, daughter of Broadway legend and songwriter Frank Loesser, is critical of these recent claims.

“Absolutely, I get it. But I think it would be good if people looked at the song in the context of the time. It was written in 1944… People used to say ‘what’s in this drink’ as a joke. You know, this drink is going straight to my head, so what’s in this drink?” said Loesser. “Back then, it didn’t mean ‘You drugged me.’ ”

I have always viewed the song as portraying 2 adults caught in reciprocal flirtatious banter. I see the woman as clearly wanting to stay, but playfully toying with the man’s emotions. It never crossed my mind that he was pressuring her or forcing her; to me, it always seemed consensual.

In spite of Loesser’s explantation, many do not share my view. Radio stations continue to be pressured to avoid the song.

This is especially concerning in an age when rap music continues to use derogatory slurs to degrade women and reality television boasts a frivolous lifestyle almost always bound by gender roles. How can we justify criticizing this age-old classic while we let these other blatant forms of misogyny go on in mainstream media?

The littlest things are scrutinized while what is really wrong in our country goes unchallenged. This criticism ultimately falls flat in the face of more pressing political issues that currently dominate American culture; “Baby” is an innocuous Christmas jingle that radio stations across the country should reinstate.