D.L. STEWART: Sometimes a song is just a song

In the current atmosphere, no man in his right mind would make light of sexual misconduct. Nor should we. Still, it’s tough to ignore the “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” controversy that has been raging for years … even though I didn’t know it had been raging for years until last week.

Until then, the only thing I ever thought about “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is that it was playful musical banter performed by really old people in even older movies. Since it was written in 1944, the call and response song been performed by duets ranging from Bing Crosby and Doris Day to Idina Menzel and Michael Buble. It’s probably only a matter of time until there’s a version by Kanye West and Taylor Swift.

But now I’m woke. Because last week USA Today published a point-counterpoint featuring two columnists debating whether the 73-year-old song shares the blame for today’s seemingly endless flood of sexual misconduct stories.

“Is this the year we finally retire ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside?,’” demanded Mary Nahorniak, the deputy managing editor for digital at USA Today. “In 2017, America woke up to the systemic sexual predation that pervades every corner of society, but some of our Christmas carols are stuck in the past. … In particular, the drumbeat against ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ is getting too loud to ignore.”

But before I could race home and burn all my “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” 78s, I read the counterpoint:

“Every year at Christmastime these days, as sure as fake antlers and Aunt Ruby’s fluorescent-cherry fruitcake, the feminists are out denouncing Frank Loesser’s 1940s seasonal-seduction duet ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ as ‘rapey,’” declared Charlotte Allen, a columnist for First Things magazine.

“As cheerless as Scrooge wondering why there are no workhouses, the sexual-assault sisterhood reads sinister subtexts into (Frank) Loesser’s lyrics every Yuletide. ‘Say, what’s in this drink?’ That’s all about roofies, the date-rape drug. ‘I ought to say no, no, no.’ That’s women being socialized by the patriarchy to be nice when they really want to get away. ‘I’ve got to get home — ‘Oh, baby, you’ll freeze out there.’ That’s him wearing her down into unwanted sex.

“I can’t decide whether these Grinch-ettes of rape culture have tin ears, tin eyes, tin brains, or all three. Have any of them ever heard the song sung?”

There are, I suppose, men like Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinsten whose sexual attitudes were influenced by hearing Dinah Shore sing “I really must go” and Bing Crosby crooning “But baby it’s cold outside.” If I were pointing fingers, though, they probably would be aimed at more recent songs with titles such as “Date Rape,” “Nookie” and “Me So Horny.”

But, as the headline above Ms. Allen’s, rebuttal noted, she thinks it’s time to “Chill out, culture police, on ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside.’”

Me too.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

Husband finally crosses the line
Husband finally crosses the line

I drew the line at Chex Mix. I had to draw it somewhere. Had you been here to see what’s been going on in this home, you would’ve expected me to do something — anything. A lot sooner. How many wives could standby calmly and bear witness to their husband’s love affair? It started innocently enough. Taking a walk with her. Private...
3 menus we are DYING to try during Winter Restaurant Week this week
3 menus we are DYING to try during Winter Restaurant Week this week

We’ve really got to hand it to this year’s Winter Restaurant Week participants. The menus that keep rolling out are top-notch, as well as a great value. It would be almost impossible to attempt to try every Restaurant Week menu.  So to ease your foodie anxieties and help you decide, we’ve selected three menus that we think sound...
Pregnancy tests can be thrown off by timing
Pregnancy tests can be thrown off by timing

The moment a woman finds out she is pregnant can be life-altering, which makes it that much more important to conduct a home pregnancy test when it will provide the most accurate results. In fact, according to a local obstetrician, the timing of a home pregnancy test is much more vital than the type of pregnancy test a woman chooses from her local...
Obesity surgery safer than traditional treatments, study suggests
Obesity surgery safer than traditional treatments, study suggests

Having surgery to treat obesity may seem like a drastic option, but a new study suggests it may actually be a safer route than more traditional options. Researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Clalit Research Institute in Israel, recently published their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association...
Get fit: 3 mistakes to avoid while exercising

One of the greatest benefits of exercise is that it enables you to be more in tune with your body. During a workout you learn how your body reacts to different types of activity. Uncomfortable responses associated with exercise such as muscle soreness are normal, while other situations can be an indication of a more serious problem. Over-training and...
More Stories