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Christmas FM

As 'Baby It's Cold Outside' is pulled from the airways, is it problematic or a "feminist anthem"?

Some radio stations are opting not to play it this Christmas.

CHRISTMAS FM HAS confirmed it won’t be playing ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ over the festive season because of its seemingly controversial lyrics.

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They’re following in the footsteps of several other stations in the US, who pulled the song following concern from listeners over the song’s lyrics in the era of #MeToo.

In the past few years, the narrative of the song – in which a man seemingly coerces his female companion in to staying the night has come under scrutiny. Cleveland radio host Glen Anderson shared the song’s lyrics, which include lines like: “Say, what’s in this drink?”, “I really can’t stay / Baby don’t hold out” and “I ought to say no, no, no / Mind if I move in closer?” The woman also wonders aloud what others might think of her if she stays.

However, while the usual argument of ‘PC gone mad’ is raised (when isn’t it, in fairness), another perspective is making people on social media stop and think about the song’s true meaning. Some listeners have interpreted the story as meaning that the woman in question actually wanted to stay over; that it’s a reflection of the misogynistic attitudes held towards women and sexuality at the time.

Jen Kirkman said on Twitter: “The song seems odd now not [because] 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 30s that means ‘I’m telling the truth.’ She wanted to get down and stay over.

“He is offering her an excuse she can use. ‘But it’s cold outside.’ And she’s explaining to him that excuse doesn’t work when you’re a woman who has to deal with what the neighbors think. The song has a lot to teach us about how society views women’s sexuality.”

She continues by pointing out – as many other people have – that the woman actually joins in singing with the man on the last chorus, agreeing that it is indeed cold outside. It’s another indication that the woman wanted to stay, but felt compelled to protest because of societal views of women and sexuality back in the late forties/early fifties.

It’s also worth noting that the song’s writer Frank Loesser regularly performed the song as a party trick with his wife, and she considered it a bop, according to journalist Amy Botelho.

Then again, how has it been used in more recent pop culture? A questionable example is the scene in Elf, when Buddy creeps up on Jovie singing it in the shower. It’s not great that the song is, once again, being associated with a a perceived lack of boundaries.

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Can there be room for such a song in 2018? You could argue that if you’re taking the song by its first interpretation then a plethora of other songs should similarly be taken out of circulation. Or is it simply an innocent way of acknowledging how far we’ve come in terms of rejecting slut-shaming? 

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