In 1944, Frank Loesser wrote a call and response duet for him and his wife to perform at fancy parties. Little did they know it would become a hit for generations to come.
The couple would often sing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” as their closing song to let guests know that the evening was coming to an end.
“We become instant parlor room stars,” Loesser said following their first performance of the song at a housewarming party in New York City. “We got invited to all the best parties for years on the basis of ‘Baby.’ It was our ticket to caviar and truffles. Parties were built around our being the closing act.”
It was never meant to be a holiday tune, but it became one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time due to its winter theme.
Since its release, the song has been covered by some of the world’s biggest artists, including Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton, Ray Charles and Betty Carter as well as Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton.
For decades, radio stations and shops all over the world have played the classic song on repeat all season long, leaving listeners with that warm and fuzzy feeling.
However, this year there’s at least one radio station in the United States that won’t be keeping up with this tradition.
Cleveland’s Star 102 WDOK-FM has decided to ban the song from its 24-hour Christmas rotation after some of its users complained that the lyrics are inappropriate, especially in the light of the #MeToo movement.
In case you need a reminder, “Baby Its Cold Outside” centers around a conversation between a couple during which the man tries to convince the woman not to venture out into the bad weather. He tries to persuade her to have another drink with him and spend the night with him despite her saying “The answer is no.”
Supporters of the #MeToo movement, which brings attention to the prevalence of sexual assault in our society and gives victims a chance to stand up against it together, claim that the Christmas song’s lyrics feel “manipulative and wrong.”
“The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended, but in a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place,” Star 102 host Glen Anderson explained in a blog post.
“People might say, ‘oh, enough with that #MeToo,’ but if you really put that aside and listen to the lyrics, it’s not something I would want my daughter to be in that kind of a situation,” midday host Desiray told Cleveland’s Fox 8. “The tune might be catchy, but let’s maybe not promote that sort of an idea.”
There are people who are especially concerned about the song’s normalization of “date rape,” in reference to the lyrics “Say, what’s in this drink?”
“It really pushed the line of consent,” Cleveland Rape Crisis Center President and CEO Sondra Miller told Fox News. “The character in the song is saying ‘no,’ and they’re saying well, ‘Does no really mean yes?’ And I think in 2018 what we know is consent is ‘yes’ and if you get a ‘no’, it means ‘no’ and you should stop right there.”
However, not everyone agrees that the song is inappropriate.
While it may clash with our current cultural climate, people like comedian Jen Kirkman have pointed out the lyrics, especially the phrase “Say, what’s in the drink?,” meant something entirely different in that era.
“I’m so tired of this,” Kirkman tweeted. “The song seems odd now not cuz it’s about coercing sex but about a woman who knows her reputation is ruined if she stays. “Say what’s in this drink” is an old movie line from the 30’s that means “I’m telling the truth.” She wanted to get down and stay over.”
I’m so tired of this. The song seems odd now not cuz it’s about coercing sex but about a woman who knows her reputation is ruined if she stays. “Say what’s in this drink” is an old movie line from the 30’s that means “I’m telling the truth.” She wanted to get down and stay over. https://t.co/3TaQbUSoB1
— JEN KIRKMAN (@JenKirkman) December 1, 2018
I understand why people would link the #MeToomvmt #MeToo with baby, its cold outside and I know how women feel about it, But never have I linked my misfortune with a damn song! I enjoy that song! Everyone has gone crazy! That song has been out since the late 90s! It’s a classic!
— Bethany Ava (@BessieAva) December 1, 2018
In a world where catchy top 40 songs glorify guns, drugs, fighting and sex, Baby it’s cold outside’ is deemed the most offensive of them all?! This is hillarious! pic.twitter.com/YlFg75BPKZ
— Lee Anthony (@Holland4La) December 1, 2018
As a fierce feminist who loves sex and hates the way society views women who love sex, Baby It’s Cold Outside is one of my holiday favorites. Fuck what the “neighbors might think.” #BABYITSCOLDOUTSIDE
— GritCityMissfit (@GritCityMissfit) November 30, 2018
Find me in December losing friends by arguing that Baby It’s Cold Outside is not rapey and instead about a woman who wants to have sex but must make excuses for her desires & agency
as if it’s something that actually… matters
— Marcia Belsky (@MarciaBelsky) November 29, 2018
The debate over the meaning of the song has continued to divide social media, so for now, radio stations like Star 102 will be giving it the cold treatment.
The controversy surrounding the song comes on the heels of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special being accused of containing “disturbing” themes.
Prior to that A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving came under fire for allegedly being racist.