But What If It Is Cold Outside?
by
Brian Campbell

Full Article with pictures: fhttps://highhopescommunications.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/But-What-If-It-Is-Cold-Outside.pdf

Ahh… ‘Tis the season of Peace, Goodwill and … complaining about the way other people choose to celebrate their holidays. For the last few years I have written my personal commentary on some people’s issue about whether or not it is appropriate to say Merry Christmas.  I usually respond by pointing out that, while we are very multicultural and not everyone celebrates Christmas, all of the December holidays generally have the same them of peace and goodwill to all, so we all should be equally comfortable with Merry (or Happy) Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Blessed Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, Happy Festivus or any of many other options. My original plan for this year was to write something in a similar vein.

Then something new came up to, quite literally, disturb my Christmas harmony. It started with a Cleveland radio station banning the song, Baby It’s Cold Outside, citing inappropriate content based on the #MeToo movement. All too soon, it came too close to home as Canadian radio stations began to do the same. I was upset, as Baby It’s Cold Outside, is one of my favourite winter classics. I say winter because, technically, the song really has little, if anything, to do with Christmas and more to do with weather and human hormones. Besides, I really couldn’t see what the problem was.

What I do when I don’t understand something, but still have an opinion, is to research and debate the subject in order to both express my opinion and to hear the opinions of others. So I started a debate on my Facebook page, and began adding my opinion to other debates that were going on. I also read as many news items as I could find on the subject.

After much discussion, this is what I discovered. First, I could not find one single person who was personally triggered by the song, although I did find a few who sympathized with those who were. Fair enough. I get that. I also found one woman who was personally and angrily triggered by me for actually having an opinion, since as a man I have no idea what I am talking about. Frankly, I have met almost as many men who have been physically and sexually abused as I have women. So I find those comments to be sexist.

The next thing I discovered was that a number of my female friends who are part of the #MeToo movement don’t see anything wrong with the song and many who actually enjoy it. In fact, the Cleveland radio station who originally banned the song ended up putting it back on the air because they discovered that 95% of their listeners were offended by its removal.

Let’s take a moment to put the song in context. A number of people have already done this, but please bear with me. First off, I will be the last person to claim that this is an innocent song. It is a song about seduction, but that doesn’t necessarily make it ominous. There was a time, not so very long ago, when seduction was considered a normal part of the male/female romantic relationship; back in the days where “good girls” didn’t stay overnight at men’s homes unchaperoned, and people worried about things like “reputations.” The unfortunate thing about those days was that no didn’t necessarily mean no, because all “good girls” were expected to say no. Men had to be good at reading body language and knowing when no meant no, and when it meant maybe. Of course that didn’t mean that a woman couldn’t express herself. Many a man who got his bell rung for misreading signals, quickly learned to read them better the next time around.

So in that context, let’s look at the song, starting with the offending lyric “Say, what’s in this drink?” It has already been pointed out that “what’s in this drink” was code for, “I need an excuse for uncharacteristic behaviour.” I want to point out that this line comes up early in the second verse of a four verse song. The song, and discussion, continues on for more than two and a half verses, suggesting to me that she wasn’t suffering from any loss of mental or physical capacity from aforementioned drink.

Other lines include “I ought to say no, no, no,” not “I want to say no. no, no,” and “at least I’m going to say that I tried,” so you see, she’s already planning her excuse. Her biggest concern is not her safety with this man, but what others will say, “the neighbours might think,” “my mother will start to worry,” “my father will be pacing the floor,” “my sister will be suspicious,” “my maiden Aunt’s mind is vicious,” (where did a maiden Aunt get those thoughts) “there’s bound to be talk tomorrow,” “at least there’ll be plenty implied.”  At no point is her concern over what could possibly happen to her, only what others would say.

I was advised that I had to put it into a modern context, and I agree in part that in a modern context, it does look worrisome, much like the Police song “Every Breath You take.” Times, unfortunately, have changed. But to be fair, I decided to check out what young people are listening to now. What an eye opener. Firstly, that some of the songs are surprisingly good. Secondly, that people who listen to today’s top 40 haven’t got a leg to stand on when complaining about songs like, Baby It’s Cold Outside. Not when the songs they listen to include lyrics like “In the 305, b**ches treat me like I’m Uncle Luke (Don’t stop, pop that p***y!)” or “and I could try to run, but it would be useless, You’re to blame.” It seems to me that you may want to clean up your own yard first. You may say that I am taking these lyrics out of context, and maybe I am. How about that.

The way I see it, this issue with Baby It’s Cold Outside really has very little to do with the #MeToo movement. It is nothing more than a diversionary tactic, much like the personhole covers were during the feminist movement of the 70’s and 80’s. This is somebody saying, “We understand you, and here is what we’ll do. We’ll take this offensive song off the air’; and like the personhole covers of the 70’s and 80’s, that will be the end of it. There will be a token effort, such as “safe words” in the workplace, but nothing more. Nothing will be done to make the workplace safer for women or recognize their equality. But “The Powers That Be” will be able to say they did their part.

So don’t be distracted by those who want to want to divert your attention from real issues. As Groucho Marx once said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” and sometimes a song is just a song. If you don’t like it, change the station, then move on. But on the same note, don’t be afraid to discuss issues that concern you, no matter how volatile and contentious they may seem.

From my family to yours, have a safe and happy holiday season, however you celebrate it.