Popular Right Now
The classic Christmas song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" has recently come under attack. There has been controversy over the song being deemed as inappropriate since it has been suggested that it promotes date rape. Others believe that the song is another common example of our culture's promotion of rape. You may be wondering, where did they get that idea from?
The controversy has led to one radio station, WDOK, taking the song off the air and banning it from their station. Some people believe that this song goes against the #MeToo movement since it promotes rape. However, people are not considering the fact that this traditional Christmas song was made in the 1940s.
People are viewing the song from a modern-day cultural perspective rather than from the perspective of the 1940s. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was written in 1944. Many people have viewed the song from the perspective of our cultural and social norms. People believe that the song promotes date rape because of lyrics that suggest that the male singing is trying to stop the female singer from leaving, and the female singer is constantly singing about trying to escape with verses like "I really can't stay" or "I've got to go home."
When you first view the song from the perspective of today's culture, you may jump to the conclusion that the song is part of the date rape culture. And it's very easy to jump to this conclusion, especially when you are viewing only one line from the song. We're used to women being given more freedom. In our society, women can have jobs, marry and be independent. However, what everyone seems to forget is that women did not always have this freedom.
In 1944, one of the social norms was that women had curfews and were not allowed to be in the same house as a man at a later time. It was considered a scandal if a single woman so much as stayed at another man's house, let alone be in the same room together. It's mind-blowing, right? You can imagine that this song was probably considered very provocative for the time period.
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is not a song that encourages date rape, but is actually challenging the social norms of society during the time period. When you listen to the song, you notice that at one part of the song, the female states, "At least I can say that I tried," which suggests that she really doesn't want to leave. In fact, most of the song, she is going back and forth the whole time about leaving stating, "I ought to say no…well maybe just a half a drink more," and other phrases.
She doesn't want to leave but doesn't really have a choice due to fear of causing a scandal, which would have consequences with how others will treat her. It was not like today's society where nobody cares how late someone stays at another man's house. Nowadays, we could care less if we heard that our single neighbor stayed over a single man's house after 7. We especially don't try to look through our curtain to check on our neighbor. Well, maybe some of us do. But back then, people did care about where women were and what they were doing.
The female singer also says in the lyrics, "The neighbors might think," and, "There's bound to be talk tomorrow," meaning she's scared of how others might perceive her for staying with him. She even says, "My sister will be suspicious," and, "My brother will be there at the door," again stating that she's worried that her family will find out and she will face repercussions for her actions. Yes, she is a grown woman, but that doesn't mean that she won't be treated negatively by others for going against the social norms of the time period.
Then why did the male singer keep pressuring her in the song? This is again because the song is more about challenging the social norms of the time period. Both the female and male singers in the song are trying to find excuses to stay and not leave.
On top of that, when you watch the video of the scene in which the song was originally viewed, you notice that the genders suddenly switch for another two characters, and now it's a female singer singing the male singer's part and vice versa. You also notice that the whole time, both characters are attracted to one another and trying to find a way to stay over longer.
Yes, I know you're thinking it doesn't matter about the genders. But, the song is again consensual for both couples. The woman, in the beginning, wants to stay but knows what will await if she doesn't leave. The male singer meanwhile is trying to convince her to forget about the rules for the time period and break them.
In addition, the complaint regarding the lyric "What's in this drink?" is misguided. What a lot of people don't understand is that back in 1944, this was a common saying. If you look at the lyrics of the song, you notice that the woman who is singing is trying to blame the alcoholic drink for causing her to want to stay longer instead of leaving early. It has nothing to do with her supposed fear that he may have tried to give her too much to drink in order to date rape her. Rather, she is trying to find something to blame for her wanting to commit a scandal.
As you can see, when you view the song from the cultural perspective of the 1940s, you realize that the song could be said to fight against the social norms of that decade. It is a song that challenges the social constrictions against women during the time period. You could even say that it's an example of women's rights, if you wanted to really start an argument.
Yes, I will admit that there were movies and songs made back in the time period that were part of the culture of date rape. However, this song is not the case. It has a historical context that cannot be viewed from today's perspective.
The #MeToo movement is an important movement that has led to so many changes in our society today. However, this is not the right song to use as an example of the date rape culture.
In a recent article, it was stressed that instead of ruining memories being made, you should set aside political differences during the holidays and focus on family. The author stressed the importance of recognizing the birth of Jesus and that politics "are not worth hating family members over."
While initially this sounds like an appealing idea considering the holidays are supposed to be a happy time, it's only plausible for White people.
White people are not tied to politics the same way people of color are, and thus they can choose when to push the boundaries of their political views and who to end relationships with.
To White people, including this author, politics are a debate or a mild entertainment. They become a hobby to be interested in politics and they believe political actions can only offend someone, not completely shape their lives.
White people have the choice to "be political" or ignore it completely. They could live their entire lives without dipping their toes into politics and absolutely nothing about their lives would be different.
As a result of institutionalized racism and a system built on White supremacy, people of color live out their political ideals daily. They benefit from what they believe in, but they also suffer from what others do not even bother to believe in. They have to fight extra hard just to be included in the political conversation when White people have complete access and often choose not to use it.
When I meet someone new on my college campus, a point of conversation is usually whether they are political or not. Often people say it's too exhausting to keep up with political news or they just don't care. If they don't see that it directly affects them, they won't get involved because they don't have to.
While the article had good intentions, it stank of White privilege. The ability to avoid political discussion to focus on baby Jesus and your racist family members? Believing politics are simply "provocative" and not a daily struggle for civil and economic rights? Thinking your desire to not associate with racist, homophobic, and xenophobic family members is a "personal agenda"?
White people believe there are "proper places and times for [political] discussions," as if it doesn't continue to affect people of color every second of their lives.
The author finishes with an encouragement to forget the "pointless debates" and enjoy your family at Christmas. Your family is your first contact as you grow up and you will forever be linked to them in some way. They influence you as much as you influence them. If you don't bring up these political conversations, when will our country ever grow? Where is the appropriate time to talk about politics? When White people feel good and ready to do it?
Bring up politics at your Christmas table and don't be afraid of hurting feelings. Changing our political atmosphere starts on a small scale and this suppression of political discussion is only going to tear us further apart.