Maybe you’re better off outside.

Long before I understood concepts like consent or feminism, I understood creepy, and the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” qualified. “I ought to say no, no, no sir.” “Say, what’s in this drink?” “What’s the sense in hurting my pride?” “The answer is no.” “How can you do this to me now?” It’s meant to be a fun, flirty little song, but listen to the lyrics and it’s wrong. “No means no” is clear and classic, and when a guy is that insistent about ignoring boundaries, it’s a sign to get the hell out of there, cold outside or not.

It’s a peppy little tune, though, so I thought I’d throw in a few new lyrics to clean it up, show a little respect, ensure her safe return home, and make a somewhat happier winter season for those of us who actually listen to song lyrics.

I really can’t stay.
Baby, it’s cold outside
I’ve got to go ‘way.
Baby, it’s cold outside
The evening has been…
Been hoping that you’d drop in
… so very nice.
The sidewalk’s slick with all that ice.
My mother will start to worry.
Look at those snowflakes flurry.
My father will be pacing the floor.
I’ve got a jacket next to the door.
So really I’d better scurry.
The hood is all nice and furry.
Well, maybe just a half a drink more.
I’ll call you a cab while you pour.

The neighbors might think.
Baby, it’s bad out there.
Say, what’s in this drink?
It’s actually just a pinch of chili powder. You wouldn’t think it would work, but it does.
I wish I knew how…
The cab is on its way now.
… to break this spell.
You can borrow my hat as well.
I ought to say no, no, no sir.
Look, the cab’s getting closer.
At least I’m gonna say that I tried.
It’s on me–I’ll pay for your ride.
I really can’t stay.
Wish you could hold out.
Damn, it is cold outside.

Sure, it only makes two verses–because it shouldn’t take a note more than that to get her safely in a cab on her way home. In my head, though, they get together for coffee the next day so she can return his hat and his jacket, and things go swimmingly, in part because she feels comfortable with a guy who’s already demonstrated that he respects her boundaries and in part because his coat smells so good. Really, that helps.

60 comments for “Maybe you’re better off outside.

  1. December 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I’m so happy you posted about this! I’ve been wondering if there was a feminist response to this song somewhere on the Internet, and this revised version is perfect!

  2. Zoe
    December 23, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I’ve finally caught on this year to exactly how creepy this song is. Thanks for the post.

  3. Annaleigh
    December 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Thanks for the rewrite. The original is rather creepy. I even googled a few days ago to see if anyone else thought the same way.

  4. December 23, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    You know what else is a creepy song with a nice melody, “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. I must have heard it a million times until finally considering the lyrics not too long ago. Holy shit…

  5. Annaleigh
    December 23, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Seth Eag: You know what else is a creepy song with a nice melody, “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. I must have heard it a million times until finally considering the lyrics not too long ago. Holy shit…

    And of course, I think Sting has mentioned a few times how weirded out he is when people choose it for their wedding song.

  6. December 23, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I’ve always thought this song was a bit creepy. What about the song “Santa Baby”? Far creepy.

  7. Kristen J.
    December 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    No…no…no…see the song is simply a role playing game between a happily partnered couple with a completely consentual sub-sub-sub-text. Because Ray Charles would never sing something rapey. See? Exactly.

  8. Kyra
    December 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Ugh. I remember hearing that song on the way home from family get-togethers a couple years ago, and just thought it was soooo creepy, to the point of why do they play the blasted thing anymore?!

    Of course, expecting mainstream culture to trouble itself with standards of enthusiastic, unbadgered consent seems to be expecting too much.

  9. Meg
    December 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I have always called it the rape carol, and have a personal Christmas playlist that leaves it out (and a couple of other bad ones).

  10. scrumby
    December 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Doesn’t matter how easy you make the html shortcuts, I will find a way to mess them up. The link-that-is-now-most-of-my-comment leads to a Persephone Article in defense of the song based on it’s historical connotations.

  11. LG
    December 23, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    While I do cringe whenever I hear this song (the male singer’s voice is always skeezy sounding to me), I’m not totally convinced on the “rapey” interpretation. It seems like she wouldn’t mind staying but feels she has to leave in order to protect her reputation and not been seen as promiscuous – “my sister will be suspicious,” “my brother will be there at the door,” “my maiden aunt’s mind is vicious,” “there’s bound to be talk tomorrow…at least there will be plenty implied”. All these verses say that she’s worried about what other people will think if she stays.

  12. LG
    December 23, 2011 at 8:14 pm
  13. Mo
    December 23, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Scrumby – Slay Belle’s explanation of the connotations based on the time and social mores is exactly how I’ve always read the song. She wants to stay but enumerates all the reasons other people will blame her, he’s flattering and helps her with excuses for the story. As a kid, I’d seen enough old movies re-run to know that “what’s in this drink” was more of using the drink as an excuse. There’s creepy, and then there’s over-analyzation by standards that were never applied to the thing created in its time.

  14. LC
    December 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    You know what song always came across as creeptastic to me? Xtreme’s More than Words.

    I cannot hear that song as about anything other than pressuring a girl to have sex with him in order to “prove that she loves him” because if not he might find someone else who will.

  15. Kristen J.
    December 23, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Umm…he put *ice* in her scotch. Which is totally a WTF moment. Right? Exactly. What y’all need is some good old fashioned cognitive dissonance. Its usually included with every batch of eggnog.

  16. evil fizz
    December 23, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    I feel like the original version has the two parts labeled The Fox and The Mouse. Going to double check, but that’s a particular kind of creepy.

  17. evil fizz
    December 23, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Okay, it’s the Wolf and the Mouse. Shudder.

  18. Alex
    December 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    It definitely can be a creeptastic song [see: the Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews’ cover. SO CREEPY.], but I think Slay Belle’s points mitigate parts of the skeeze factor.

    The cover that, I think, totally redeems the song is Alan Cummings and Liza Minnelli’s cover… they switch parts over the bridge ;D

  19. DouglasG
    December 23, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Liza Minnelli and Alan Cumming doing that song as a duet brings in a completely new twist of creepy of a non-musical nature.

    In the context of the rewrite, might I suggest a change to Would you let me pay for your ride? (or something similar) as being a little less effusively (or pushily) gallant? It’s the same number of syllables.

  20. Brennan
    December 24, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Word. Also, what’s with the stations’ obsession with this song? I’ve heard about 8 different versions in the past two weeks. That would be enough to drive me crazy even if I *wasn’t* already skeeved out by the lyrics.

  21. Anon21
    December 24, 2011 at 12:53 am

    LG:
    It seems like she wouldn’t mind staying but feels she has to leave in order to protect her reputation and not been seen as promiscuous – “my sister will be suspicious,” “my brother will be there at the door,” “my maiden aunt’s mind is vicious,” “there’s bound to be talk tomorrow…at least there will be plenty implied”. All these verses say that she’s worried about what other people will think if she stays.

    I agree that this was probably the intent of the song’s writer(s). But setting authorial intent aside and just reading the text as we have it, it’s damn hard to say, isn’t it? Quite possibly, she is offering these relatives’ objections/disapproval as an excuse for getting her out of a high-pressure sexual situation she doesn’t feel comfortable with. This speaks to feminist concerns about women being pressured either not to say “no” to unwanted sexual or social impositions by men, or feeling the need to couch that difficult “no” in all sorts of excuses and justifications that then leave them open to “counterargument” by predators. “No” with any reason or with no reason should be enough, and in this song, for this guy, it isn’t.

    And, straying even farther from authorial intent, there’s a darker reading: the woman is informing him of the vigilance of her relatives for her own protection, because she’s actually worried about being raped. “I may just be a little woman, unable to physically resist you,” she’s saying, “But if you don’t get me home at a decent hour, my family will know what you’re doing to me, and they’ll call the police on you.” (Or maybe, given the time period, the brother will come over and valiantly dash the rapist’s brains in, knowing the cops wouldn’t care.)

    So actually, I think the focus on the phrase “Say, what’s in this drink?” is a red herring, because as has been said, there’s a valid cultural explanation of that that has nothing to do with date rape drugs. Instead, I think the woman’s felt necessity of bringing in family is what’s creepiest/rapiest and unintentionally revealing of the toxic culture of the song’s time and place.

  22. John Frazer
    December 24, 2011 at 1:54 am

    I think, it it’s original context, the song was meant to depict a consensual seduction within the understood gender roles of the time (it was the man’s job to insist and the woman’s job to put up a show of resistance), but that those gender roles were so dysfunctional that even consensual sex was legitimately creepy.

  23. Ariel
    December 24, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Annaleigh: Thanksfortherewrite.Theoriginalisrathercreepy.Ievengoogledafewdaysagotoseeifanyoneelsethoughtthesameway.

    Did anyone?

    Annaleigh: Thanksfortherewrite.Theoriginalisrathercreepy.Ievengoogledafewdaysagotoseeifanyoneelsethoughtthesameway.

  24. Henry
    December 24, 2011 at 3:08 am

    The song can be interpreted several ways..she’s either saying no because she means no, or engaging in behavior of that time (and really unfortunately our time too) where she is expected to pretend to not want to have sex with him and then eventually succumb to his “charms”, or the way LG interprets it, she wants to say yes but is afraid of how society will view her – or maybe the author intended all three meanings. Either way it’s not a good message, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have the original lyrics. I doubt Sting wrote “the stalker” song to encourage or sanctify stalkers, I think it’s supposed to be about scary stuff. I do worry about anyone who seriously chooses it for their wedding though. But hey Reagan wanted to play “Born in the USA” at his inauguration – not everyone listens to all the lyrics…

  25. EG
    December 24, 2011 at 3:14 am

    Personally, I also find “Santa Baby” creepier, because of the “infantilized women are sexy” vibe. I can easily imagine “It’s Cold Outside” in the context of, I don’t know, a 1948 MGM musical in which the two are flirting, and that’s made clear with body language and acting, etc. There is no possible way to read “Santa Baby” that doesn’t make me want to go throw up, brush my teeth, and then take a long shower and scrub my skin with a potato brush.

  26. December 24, 2011 at 3:43 am

    I DEFINITELY think Santa Baby is creepier. On the other hand, there was no shortage of creepy songs in that particular category.

    I actually like Baby It’s Cold Outside precisely because you can have this sort of conversation about it – with pretty much anyone, feminist or not. You start out going “thaaat’s a bit creepy, listen to the actual lyrics” and they go “well, in context it doesn’t sound like she really means it” and then you can get into that whole slut-shaming dynamic where women are expected to say no even if they want to say yes, because sex is shameful but WANTING it is more shameful, thus ensuring that there is very little difference, on the surface, between the lead-ups to a consensual and a non-consensual encounter. Talk about Schrodinger’s Rapist!

    The dissonance between the song’s contextual meaning and the way it sounds to us now is a really good tool for opening up some of the toxic social patterns around the combination of slut-shaming and rape culture, and how they continue to work together today.

  27. Roozal
    December 24, 2011 at 6:21 am

    I had never heard “Baby It’s Cold Outside” until recently, and as soon as I listened to the lyrics I felt uncomfortable. It feels too much like rape – she’s saying no in so many different ways, but the man ignores her and presses on.

  28. Tony C
    December 24, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I’m a guy, so I know I may not be welcolmed here, but thanks to a female friend, i read this blog quite often, but have never said anything. On this on I had to speak up.

    “Baby it’s cold outside” is creepy? A Christmas song?

    Jeez lady! Maybe try to wash some of the starch out of your drawers next time.
    Some people know how to suck all the innocent fun out of anything! If you can something to be offended by in a Christmas tune, you must have a hard time finding innocent joy in anything in life. You strike me as the type of person who spends most of your life angry.

    RELAX!!

  29. nub
    December 24, 2011 at 7:18 am

    hm, not sure I see what makes Santa Baby creepy? I mean, it depicts a materialistic young women wanting stuff. Yea there are a lot of sexual overtones that makes it sound like the woman singing is attempting to use her sexuality to “woo” presents out of “santa” but there are no direct references as far as i can tell.

    It’s not so much creepy to me as it is materialistic, and the sexual over tones just sound… i don’t know… sexual to me, like a come on, not really “creepy”

  30. nub
    December 24, 2011 at 7:22 am

    heh, ya know after thinking about it, the fact that the song is unapologetic about being sexual is kinda feminist(ish?), in the way that the singer clearly calls out her being sexually active and still deserving of presents, (almost like shes asking “oh come on, sex isn’t REALLY a naughty thing is it?)

    Think of all the fun I’ve missed
    Think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed
    Next year I could be oh so good
    If you’d check off my Christmas list

  31. Azalea
    December 24, 2011 at 8:18 am

    The creepiness of Santa Baby is lost on me too. It comes off as flirty. A lot like role playing between a “good girl” and plenty of grown women refer to themselves and their friends as “girls” and Santa. We al know Santa isn’t real so her “Santa” could very well be the guy she’s already in a romantic/sexual relationship with. I dont see a lack of consent in that song and it comes off as being very playful.

    Santa Baby, slip a sable under the tree, For me.
    been an awful good girl, Santa baby,
    so hurry down the chimney tonight.

    Santa baby, a 54 convertible too,
    Light blue.
    I’ll wait up for you dear,
    Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

    Think of all the fun I’ve missed,
    Think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed,
    Next year I could be just as good,
    If you’ll check off my Christmas list,

    Santa baby, I wanna yacht,
    And really that’s not a lot,
    Been an angel all year,
    Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

    Santa honey, there’s one thing I really do need,
    The deed
    To a platinum mine,
    Santa honey, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

    Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex,
    And checks.
    Sign your ‘X’ on the line,
    Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight.

    Come and trim my Christmas tree,
    With some decorations bought at Tiffany’s,
    I really do believe in you,
    Let’s see if you believe in me,

    Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing,
    A ring.
    I don’t mean on the phone,
    Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight,
    Hurry down the chimney tonight,
    Hurry, tonight.

  32. glitterary
    December 24, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I’ve always heard the song in the way Slay Belle interpreted it in the post scrumby linked. I never had the impression the woman didn’t actually want to stay. But even with that assumption, criticism that saying no when you mean yes is damaging is entirely justified.

    Still, I enjoy the song, and think it’s a good depiction of the way people navigate gender roles in ways that can be dangerous (not addressing the NO directly), but are usually just the way people behave without analysing how problematic it might be. That’s not an endorsement of those behaviours–but I do appreciate the realism of the song from that perspective.

  33. December 24, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I also interpret the woman in the song as wanting to stay, but that doesn’t make it non-creepy for me. I actually think it’s a perfect example of how slut shaming and rape culture work together to make the world a much worse place than it should be.

  34. Kaycee
    December 24, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I hate “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The values it represents are disgusting and so the song is disgusting. Look at these two lines :

    There’s bound to be talk tomorrow – Making my life long sorrow

    The first is the woman speaking, then the man’s reply. In truth they should both be from the woman’s POV . He says he’ll be sorry the rest of his life if she doesn’t sleep with him now, now, now? Hahaha. In the 1940’s she’d be sorry her reputation was ruined, sometimes for life, by the ‘talk tomorrow.’

  35. Skye
    December 24, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I’ve yet to hear it, but She & Him (Zooey Deschanel’s band) made a cover of this song-with Zooey singing the man’s part. One music critic described it as “making the song 50% less date-rapey”. Has anyone heard it? If so, does it change the creepy undertones?

  36. wriggles
    December 24, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I must admit, when in my youth I’ve found myself going through such a long list and precise list of why “I should say no” (its one of the lyrics) it was usually because I wanted to but somehow couldn’t come right out and say so. Indeed, the thoughts swirling around my head were why I couldn’t.

    It took me a while to spot it and that was a point of sexual awakening for me, I had the confidence to accept that I could actually just want to get down, without it triggering a moral crisis.

    It sounds like its about a young woman with a more experienced guy, which might be part of any creepy effect.

    As for “Santa Baby”, I’ve always found it to be amusingly satirical and quite sharp for its time. I don’t even think it is (or is just) mocking “gold diggers” for want of a better word, but that whole system of interaction. It turns out to have been written by a woman called Joan Javits.

    I can still hear the late great Eartha Kitt’s definitive version of it in my head……….

  37. Caperton
    December 24, 2011 at 11:42 am

    scrumby: It might behoove you to read this defense of the song . I don’t know if it completely redeems it or if simply the dated nature of an otherwise innocent song is still grounds for condemning it because your local radio station isn’t including cultural commentary with its tracks. I do think we sometimes forget that the past needs to be assessed in the context of it’s own time before we can weigh it against our modern sensibilities.

    I do agree that it helps to consider a work in the context of the era in which it was written. But if the predominate attitude is to present it without any accompanying commentary–“And now, a blast from a more rape-y past–” it’s not inappropriate to also examine it in a modern context. And Jesus, God in heaven, that’s the stuffiest thing I’ve ever written about a song, any song, ever.

    EG: Personally, I also find “Santa Baby” creepier, because of the “infantilized women are sexy” vibe.

    I’ve never really gotten an infantilization vibe from that song. But then, my version of choice is the Eartha Kitt one, and it’s hard for me to listen to listen to that voice and hear “little girl” (“been an awful good girl” notwithstanding). And I rather like the “think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed,” like she’s wanted so bad to do some macking but has refrained for the sake of Christmas loot. Materialistic, I know, but, well, Christmas.

    Tony C: Jeez lady! Maybe try to wash some of the starch out of your drawers next time.

    Can’t. I just got this big package of starched drawers for my birthday, and those things are going to last me for weeks.

  38. scrumby
    December 24, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I also think a lot of the creep factor comes down to the tone of whichever version you’re listening too. A couple of people have mentioned some change-ups up thread and I’ve heard a few versions with the traditional arrangement where the male and female leads have a good amount of chemistry which makes it pretty clear that the exchange is light banter between partners who do want to be together. But hands down the worst version I’ve ever heard was Frank Sinatra singing opposite a few girls from the studio’s pool of backup singers. The combination of a strong male lead against a rather generic chorus gives the impression of a man practicing his lines. “If she says this, I’ll say this and eventually I’ll get her to give in.” Creepy indeed.

  39. karak
    December 24, 2011 at 11:51 am

    In the history of creepy songs, Clay Aiken’s “If I Was Invisible” is just damn terrifying.

    I think “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is redeemable with the right singers–a flirty, joking song between people already in a relationship giving each other a hard time. That isn’t quite what I hear in this.

    You know what a good song about a man and a woman flirting is? “Promiscuous”. Really.

  40. Ben Kling
    December 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I had this same thought last week. My little sister and I recorded a more appropriate version:

    http://benkling.com/uploads/Baby%20It's%20Perfectly%20Fine.mp3

  41. Emily WK
    December 24, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    I’ve heard the She & Him version and it’s the only one i have ever liked. So there’s that.

  42. mad the swine
    December 24, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    “It seems like she wouldn’t mind staying but feels she has to leave in order to protect her reputation and not been seen as promiscuous – “my sister will be suspicious,” “my brother will be there at the door,” “my maiden aunt’s mind is vicious,” “there’s bound to be talk tomorrow…at least there will be plenty implied”. All these verses say that she’s worried about what other people will think if she stays. ”

    Well, yes, it could be read that way. But going beyond the status of the individual character, the song sends a message that women say no when they mean yes, and that a man’s role is to pressure a woman until that ‘no’ changes. The idea that the character is saying no and meaning yes makes the song even creepier, because it’s sending a message to listening males that that’s how you deal with women when they try to leave.

  43. Hershele Ostropoler
    December 24, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    “Let it Snow” is the non-rapey version. It’s broadly the same storyline, but in “Let it Snow” everyone seems enthusiastic about it.

  44. Alice
    December 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I actually think that “Baby, it’s cold outside” is not really a creepy song about a man pressuring a woman into sleeping with him. I think it’s a song born out of a culture in which women are expected to reject sexual advances even if they want them in order to avoid seeming “easy” and men are expected to seduce women out of their resistance. I don’t think the woman in the song actually wants to say no, I think she’s protesting in order to “maintain her pride” or as a part of flirting.

    Which I actually find creepier, because a culture which teaches women to protest against sexual advances they want and men to ignore those protests as a part of flirtation/seduction is bound to result in misunderstandings and communication problems.

  45. EG
    December 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Alice: a culture which teaches women to protest against sexual advances they want and men to ignore those protests as a part of flirtation/seduction is bound to result in misunderstandings and communication problems.

    Misunderstandings and communication problems? When men are taught that women say no when they mean yes, women have no way to say no. That’s bound to result in rape. That’s the problem.

  46. Mztress
    December 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Sounds more like the classic, “Be careful, Sally; you know how men are. You’d better keep him in check, You don’t wanna get spoiled, do you?” It’s just set to a Xmas beat.

  47. December 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    This is a great post with wonderful discussion. Love the title, “Maybe You’re Better Off Outside,” and as a woman couldn’t agree more.

    But then, as to being outside, as much as I might appreciate selected individual men and even groups of men who are authentically pro-feminist, I’ve concluded that just as I would not spend time inside with a cute male polar bear who might turn violent, in general I don’t date much. Like a polar bear, a cute male humanoid likewise may belong to a y-chromosome species whose collective meme or gene of violence could turn out to be more than he can resist.

    All I can add to the Xmas song lyrics analysis is that we seem not to have fully addressed the question of why in the 21st century, if we’re really “post-modern” (which I do not believe for even one second), our minds are constantly invaded in virtually every public space (from Starbucks and the mall to grocery stores) between Thanksgiving and Christmas with playlists we did not choose injecting the sex-role specific “Baby, it’s cold outside” and “Santa Baby” lyrics.

    Then there are the omnipresent public “come let us adore “H[h]im” lyrics, as if most of us as women aren’t struggling on a continual basis to eradicate the brainwashing of male-invented monotheism from our minds.

    I’d like some equal time for the Solstice Songfest and tribute to Isis (maybe even Erinyes and Nemesis, as annoying as male-dominant input and imagery at the “holidays” persists in being). But nooooooo.

    You cannot stop the loudness of these male-identified lyrics in public spaces from entering your head (Baby Jesus or “Baby, Baby”) even with two sets of earplugs (although a foam set covered by a silicon sets helps — not that it’s how the manufacture recommends using them).

    Even when it seems like good fun, I’d have to be a masochist (which buzz-on sadistic male-dominant global culture has set as the preferred role for me, a woman) not to see the season’s musical “offerings” as a form of mental rape from media where men in the main are still in control.

    It’s become politically correct to “erase” the agency of the male sex as category identifier of the overwhelming majority of rapists in the world. (See, e.g., “RAINN” and its offender and victim pages online that erase the male agency.)

    Dude-errific Wikipedia (hardly a bastion of feminism) provides rape statistics, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics, including the male agency of rapists feared by their female victims:

    “According to the American Medical Association (1995), sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most under-reported violent crime. [footnotes omitted]

    The most common reasons given by victims for not reporting rapes are the belief that it is a personal or private matter, and that they fear reprisal from the assailant.

    A 2007 government report in England says “Estimates from research suggest that between 75 and 95 percent of rape crimes are never reported to the police.” …

    According to United States Department of Justice document Criminal Victimization in the United States, there were overall 191,670 victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2005. [footnote omitted] 1 of 6 U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape. (according to Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault). [footnote omitted] …

    U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of rape victims are female and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male. [footnote omitted]”

    Rape, for too many women, is the “suffer in silence” crime perpetrated by males whose agency is denied when not erased. The post-rape indignity of being shamed as a slut who “wanted it” (post-modern slut walks not having changed the culture at large) is too much to bear for too many rape victims who never tell.

    Thus, even if you’re not personally among the 1 in 6 women (or more) who’ve suffered actual or attempted rape, you may never know that the anonymous sister, sitting quietly beside you on the bus, is. Don’t throw any of us under the bus for knowing the risk of living in the company of males and their song lyrics.

  48. catfood
    December 25, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I suppose it’s possible that the woman in “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is just citing social pressures to say no, but she is saying no. Her rejection doesn’t become invalid just because she’s making it for patriarchal reasons.

    No means no, even when you want to say yes.

  49. Alice
    December 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    EG:
    Misunderstandings and communication problems? When men are taught that women say no when they mean yes, women have no way to say no. That’s bound to result in rape. That’s the problem.

    I think it results in women having no polite way to say no, because men aren’t really taught that women say “go to hell and leave me alone” when they mean “yes”. And I doubt that very many rapes occur when the rapist thinks that the person being raped is consenting.

    Sure, rape might be one consequence of that. But I think it’s a problem even when it doesn’t result in rape, because I’m pretty sure it’s a lot more common that it results in women being harassed in other ways or just in generally uncomfortable situations.

  50. EG
    December 26, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Alice: I think it results in women having no polite way to say no, because men aren’t really taught that women say “go to hell and leave me alone” when they mean “yes”. And I doubt that very many rapes occur when the rapist thinks that the person being raped is consenting.

    A man who is intent on this cultural paradigm could indeed interpret “Go away and leave me the hell alone” as token “resistance” to be overcome–consider the completely obnoxious “You’re so pretty when you’re mad.” I doubt many rapes occur because the rapist is just “confused,” too. What I am saying is that the cultural set-up you describe is one in that gives rapists a generous amount of cover, and allows rapists who don’t want to use the word to describe themselves to think “Oh, she’s not really putting up a struggle, and I know girls always feel like they have to resist.” So, yes, I do think that cultural construction results in rape, results in rapists walking free, and results in rape survivors being unable to understand or name their experiences as rape, let alone demand justice.

  51. forgettable
    December 27, 2011 at 5:40 am

    i suppose the complement to not teaching men that “no means yes” is teaching women that if they want to play the “no means yes” game, they shouldn’t be playing it in public spaces because it furthers a dangerous stereotype. There are a lot of women whom no DOES mean yes for, and frankly, unless you are already in sexual relationship where the other party understands what you mean (a relative, value judgement, i know <_<), that you shouldn't be "playing" with the ideas of consent. clouding the answer when asked yes or no, "for fun", frankly plays into rape culture just like rape jokes and victim blaming.

  52. rem
    December 27, 2011 at 5:40 am

    THANK YOU for this. I have always hated this song, it just creeped me out so much. My boyfriend, on the other hand, loves it. It’s his favourite Christmas song, and whenever I try to point out how weird and creepy and rapetastic it is he just says “But she AGREES to stay in the end, so it’s consensual!” I’m like, “Dude, he DRUGS HER, why is this song still on the airwaves every year”

  53. Poetree
    December 27, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Emily WK:

    I’ve heard the She & Him version and it’s the only one i have ever liked. So there’s that.

    I’m guessing the lyrics are changed as well. If not and the general idea here is person 1 is saying no and person 2 is being pushy , the gender of the people don’t matter. Person 2 is not respecting person 1’s boundaries.

  54. JCFK
    December 27, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    I like the tune of “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, so I agree with the original post that the lyrics are kind of a jarring dissonance to the piece (as well as being dismissive of someone’s assertion that they want to leave). In my opinion, what makes it exceptionally creepy is how catchy the tune is.

    It’s very uncomfortable when the comforting songs of childhood holidays have a non-consent message.

    Being from a different era does not excuse people. Not for racism, not for sexism, not for anything-ism. I think it does provide context for why it was okay then… but why is it “okay” now? Answer: it is not.

    Even if we are not looking at the song through a lens of rape… it could be kidnapping. That’s just all layers of creepy.

    I think there is no lessening of creepiness when the gender roles are reversed. It’s still uncomfortable when they sing it on GLEE with two male singers (though not because they are male). It’s a song that shows a blatant disrespect for consent in a relationship according to our modern morals. I can’t really find it in myself to care about the old-fashioned context of the song when the song is still being utilized in a modern context. I will agree with what poetree said above:

    …the general idea here is person 1 is saying no and person 2 is being pushy , the gender of the people don’t matter. Person 2 is not respecting person 1′s boundaries.

    Thanks to the author for bringing up this topic in a more fun way! Too bad there are some party poopers who felt they needed to make it about the people commenting rather than the issue.

  55. wriggles
    December 28, 2011 at 7:57 am

    I think it’s a song born out of a culture in which women are expected to reject sexual advances even if they want them in order to avoid seeming “easy” and men are expected to seduce women out of their resistance.

    This is closest to what I feel. If you are set up to be out of touch with your real feelings i.e. taught it’s slaggy/slutty to merely have desire then saying yes becomes a potential costly assault on your self respect and the respect others hold you in.

    I suppose the ultimate understanding I came to that in order to properly consent, you have to know when you mean yes as well as when you mean no. You have to be more in touch with your desire than social consequence. It is the learned disconnection that can set people up to be raped and others to rape.

  56. Maria
    December 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    …the gender of the people don’t matter.

    Gender matters because gender carries with it social power and pressures. A woman being pushy about wanting to have sex with a dude isn’t the same as a man being pushy about wanting to have sex with a gal. Women are raised to be acquiesce to male desire, to not upset men, and will, generally, be physically weaker than a male partner.

    The is not to say that women can’t sexually assault their partners, but that ‘pushiness’ is not equal between the genders.

  57. Alice
    December 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    EG: Well, I mostly agree.

  58. AlexanderRM
    January 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I have to agree with the people who’ve been pointing out that the song is supposed to be taken in context. Furthermore, if you *listen* to the song playing (at any rate the version I found on YouTube, I guess there must be other renditions that sound less happy), it’s clear that the woman does want to stay, and her objection is about societal expectations, as has been pointed out.

    However, I also agree that that’s precisely the thing which contributes to the idea that “no means yes”- the idea that she’s personally fine with the man she’s with, but is simply objecting because she’s not supposed to agree, and to be better able to excuse her behavior and blame it on him pressuring her.

    Thus, we should also keep in mind that, while men should never pressure a woman who’s reluctant to consent, it’s also important for women to give enthusiastic consent. Women shouldn’t say “no” when they mean “yes”, because doing so contributes to the idea that women do this.
    Of course, men should always, always, always respect the wishes of women who give any objection, no matter how “clearly” they don’t mean it (and, actually, doing so would also in turn encourage women not to “play hard to get” when they really do want to have sex with the man they’re talking to, since doing so wouldn’t really work if men simply stopped trying to get them).

    To men (including myself), the appropriate response when you think a woman might be “playing hard to get” is not to continue to pressure her in the same way as one might if she was generally reluctant, but rather to stop/pause any advances, look her in the eye, tell her you respect her boundaries and that if she really wants you to stop, you will, and that to make it clear that she doesn’t. :)

    (of course, if one/both of you have a reluctant consent fetish, which I can easily see in our culture- I must admit, discussing feminism and gender roles isn’t necessarily much of a turn-on- I would say that it’s fine to thereafter role-play as a 1930s couple in which the man is expected to pressure the woman into sex, provided you both clearly understand that you are both giving enthusiastic consenting IRL, and that you will stop if either of the actual people involves becomes uncomfortable. :) )

  59. firelizard19
    January 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    “And I doubt that very many rapes occur when the rapist thinks that the person being raped is consenting.”

    Actually, IIRC, this is the most common form of rape- or at least an aspect of it. With this type the rapist is overpowering the woman because he’s sure “no” in fact doesn’t mean “no” in that he thinks she’ll actually like it once he does it, etc. (I think this is called power-reassurance rape)

    This actually was taught to me in a health class video in high school (which was pretty comprehensive about these things). It suggested that a possible way to stop these offenders (if you can’t get away) was to say “this isn’t love, this is rape” or something to that effect to break the fantasy that it’s just sex and that you want it. It also said this wouldn’t work with other kinds of rapists, since other kinds do it for other reasons and don’t have the delusion that the woman actually wants it.

    Any thoughts on how accurate that video was from people who’ve done more research?

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