Baby, it’s controversial outside

Popular Christmas tune sparks debate over misogynistic lyrics

From seasonal Bath and Body Works scents to cheesy holiday movies to decorating the living room with garland and a big tree, the Christmas season is nothing short of the most wonderful time of the year. However, there is nothing that gets the holiday spirit brewing more than the music that hits radio stations directly after Halloween. Everyone sings along to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “All I Want for Christmas is You” without hesitation, as they have practically become like second nature. Still, what happens when one of these familiar tunes becomes one of the most controversial songs year-round? When is it acceptable to look past lyrics like “Ah, you’re very pushy you know? I like to think of it as opportunistic” for the sake of the Christmas spirit? While the answer may seem iffy on paper, in reality, singing a song to feel jolly is not a crime.
Frank Loesser’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” attracted evident controversy in the early days of social media, and it only grew with the #MeToo movement in recent years. Overall, it was determined the contents of the song involved a man pressuring a woman to stay and drink with him despite her clear uncertainty and worry. Many came to this conclusion, asserting that the catchy melody and reference to the cold weather of Christmas time was not worth promoting blatant evidence of date rape. It was noted that now–with no secrets surrounding the dangers of dating and the importance of only accepting enthusiastic consent–society has the power to call out problematic messages. This viewpoint even seems more convincing when the commonly female voice in the song comments, “The answer is no,” but the male voice still proclaims, “That took a lot of convincing.”
Nevertheless, it must also be recognized that the song was written in the 1940s as a form of party entertainment and not doubtlessly made to advocate for drugging and non-consensual manipulation. It would be a grave accusation to suggest those singing along to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” this holiday season and every other are purposely working to encourage or advertise such themes. The song has made its way into the hearts of many and has become part of Christmas tradition for numerous others. It is one thing to know what a song is about, acknowledge the issue, and then move on for the sake of resolution. It is another to ignore it entirely simply because the song is “old” or “teasing.” It will never be acceptable to look past controversial ideas, especially in popular media. Still, it is right to avoid closing the door on them if the issue can be conceded. Thus, if “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” or any other problematic song hits the radio or shows up on Spotify’s top charts this Christmas season, remember that while there is truly no harm in enjoying a memorable melody, there is possible damage behind acting as though there is no issue. As a matter of fact, there are revised versions for a reason!