‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’: A Brief History of the Holiday Song Controversy

Who doesn ’ t love a gay vacation tradition ? The Christmas tree has been trimmed, stockings have been hung, the elf is sitting on his shelf and, once again, people are debating whether “ Baby, It ’ mho Cold Outside ” is a song about rape. Every December, the Internet serves up a bracing batch of hot takes about Frank Loesser ’ s 1944 jazz standard, a classic recipe for clickbait controversy that ’ s guaranteed to draw a crowd. Dozens of articles are published each year .
Every sol frequently an exceptionally ardent opinion — like that the song played a “ pivotal function in the raise of Islamic Fundamentalism ” — surfaces, but the huge majority recycle the same handful of points and counterpoints, with the episodic timely newsworthiness peg ( like the # MeToo bowel movement ) throw in to bring the consider up to date. Some radio receiver stations have tied opted to ban the sung over the controversy, a decisiveness which, in turn, fuels the fight even further. here ’ s a look back at when and how the “ Baby, It ’ mho Cold Outside ” rape debate became an even bigger holiday custom .

Composed in 1944, Loesser in the first place wrote “ Baby, It ’ randomness Cold Outside ” as a playful call-and-response duet for him and his wife to perform at their housewarming party while their guests were preparing to bid them goodnight. In 1948, the song was recorded for the musical Neptune’s Daughter ; in the grade, the male and female parts are labeled “ the Wolf ” and “ the Mouse, ” respectively. The premise is that the Wolf and the Mouse have gone on a date, and after having a nightcap back at his theater, she ’ mho making her excuses to leave, while he ’ south urging her to stay .
“ I in truth can ’ thyroxine bide, ” the Mouse sings. “ But, baby, it ’ sulfur cold external, ” he replies. Every excuse the Mouse offers to say goodnight — “ my mother will worry, ” “ my church father will be pacing the floor ” — the Wolf counters. “ I ’ ll hold your hands they ’ re just like ice, ” he sings, and then former, “ Listen to the fireplace roar. ” At times, the Mouse doesn ’ t resist his temptations, agreeing to “ just half a drink more, ” but for every edge she gives, he takes two. Does she want to stay, but is playing hard to get ? Or is she succumbing to his grim continuity against her dependable desires, an experience many women can relate to ?
For most of the couple ’ sulfur history, the alone controversy was whether it was fair to call it a Christmas song, considering the lyrics don ’ t have anything to do with the holidays at all. A search of the New York Public Library ’ randomness archives ( which, in paleness, is incomplete ) reveals that the phrase “ Baby, It ’ s Cold Outside ” most normally appears in headlines about freezing temperatures and winter fashions, and not articles parsing its lyric contentedness .
While it ’ s impossible to say for certain when listeners first noticed that the back and forth sounded kind of creepy, the earliest know article on the subject was published in 2004 by Canada ’ second National Post .
“ Baby, It ’ south Cold Outside has a adorable tune but it ’ s an ode to statutory rape, ” read the December 20th, 2004 story, written by Rob McKenzie and Joe Bodolai for their regular humor column, “ Post Mortem. ” “ In union, the man gets the daughter drink amid her protestations so he can take advantage of her. ”
According to the National Post, the article was meant to be a “ facetiously, ” “ throwaway joke ” thump fun at political correctness, ending with a demand that “ all radio stations and malls … please stop bet this song. ” The article ’ south points are, ironically, the same as those being argued in businesslike nowadays, though the fault didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate happen nightlong. In a 2005 post on his personal blog, freelance writer Drew Mackie wrote that “ Baby, It ’ south Cold Outside ” was about the “ strong espouse of semi-consensual ” date rape, but like the two National Post writers, his tone is more joking than sincere .

A 2006 Livejournal entrance written by a guy named Brad Hicks — who “ achieved express notoriety ” for operating an early Internet bulletin board — waxes on for seven paragraphs ( not including the quote lyrics ) about how the birdcall ’ mho “ amusingly rendered seduction ” used to be a “ prosecutable crime ” in some states .
“ How certain can she be that a guy who hasn ’ thymine taken ‘ no ’ for an suffice will draw the line at verbal persuasion ? … The song claim, and repeated occupation, suggests that she ’ second in hearty danger if she says no, ” Hicks wrote, though he ultimately concluded that he still liked the song as a “ very aphrodisiac ” domination-submission fantasy .
The “ Baby, It ’ south Cold Outside ” controversy in truth took off in 2007, thanks to the emergence of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, which revolutionized content distribution on a mass plate. In December of that year, the popular humor web site Funny or Die released a parody video that went viral for it ’ s “ dark reimagining ” of the song ’ second lyrics, including a scene where the creepy dandy drags his terrified-looking date back to his bedroom .
The popularity of the video led to more dangerous analysis of the song ’ s lyric contentedness by feminist writers. Most of these earnest parsings concluded that the song was basically a celebration of boundary-crossing sexual compulsion, but there was the occasional unexpected contrast. In a Persephone Magazine article from 2010, blogger Slay Belle argues that the song is actually about “ the desires tied well girls have ” and the Mouse ’ s internal struggle over whether she should “ push the bounds of acceptability ” and stay the night .
“ Her dandy in his duplicate abstain … is offering her the excuses she needs to stay without guilt, ” Slay Belle writes .
One frequently quoted article, written in 2016 by a early teacher and jazz fancier, parsed “ Baby, It ’ south Cold Outside ” in the context of the time it was written. While the line “ What ’ sulfur in this drink ? ” was interpreted by some as the Wolf plying the Mouse with alcohol in order to take advantage of her, the blogger wrote that it “ was a store jest at the clock ” and “ the punchline was constantly that there ’ s actually reasonably much nothing in the drink, not even a significant amount of alcohol. ”

These few original perspectives have advanced the consider over the rape of “ Baby, It ’ sulfur Cold Outside, ” but they are merely a bantam divide of the articles that appear every year. In more holocene years, the controversy has expanded well beyond the blogosphere and gone mainstream, with traditional news outlets like the Wall Street Journal weighing in american samoa if this is a mark new controversy to emerge out of the post-Trump era. clearly, they are wrong — but 14 years late, it stands to wonder if this controversy is arsenic haunting as its male fancy man, and never ever going to give up .

[ Editor ’ s note : A interpretation of this history was originally published December 2018 ]

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