Music

‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ could be the creepiest Christmas song

As many children do during the holiday season, I listened to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” while going shopping, decorating a tree and wrapping presents.

Christmas carols are not like other genres of music — there are very few great ones because they are so difficult to write. They need to capture the holiday spirit universally, while standing the test of time. It’s not an easy task. That’s why there are so few.

“Baby, it’s Cold Outside” is one of those timeless treasures.

But when you actually begin to listen to the lyrics of “Baby, it’s Cold Outside,” it becomes much more scary than the happy holiday memories it is supposed to evoke. Instead of just someone trying to convince his love to stay a little longer — there’s an undertone of sexual coercion that is hard to ignore.

Although his lover clearly wants to leave, the male singer keeps arguing for her to stay. But the creepiest bit of lyricism is when the female singers receives another drink from her lover, and asks, “Say, what’s in this drink?” While it could be perceived as an innocent comment, coupled with his absolute insistence that she stays creates a situation with major creep factor.

I know it’s just a song. It was written in 1944 — before the date rape drug was even invented. Looking at it in the period it was written, listeners realize the implied is not what is intended — the female singer hasn’t been drugged, but has had too much to drink. And the woman singer is insisting that she wants to leave, but is still being persuaded to stay. In the current world we live in today, no should mean no.

Looking at the historical context of the song does relieve some my fears, but there are still aspects that bother me.

Essentially, the woman in the song is a prop. Her opinions don’t matter to her suitor, nor do her needs. She is used to being persuaded, to have her mind changed. When someone says “no,” it should not be a debate.

What it circles back to is the fact that the song is supposed to just be a cute Christmas carol. So I do listen to it, but I don’t want to emulate it. Like any piece of art, people write and create things we don’t agree with. In this case, it’s a song I don’t think people should try in real life.

When someone says no — in any context, be it staying at a party, drinking a drink, or over the right to their body — it should always mean no. There is no arguing the fact of someone’s right to their own person. As for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” it is still a Christmas classic — just one to be listened to with a grain of salt.

Emera Riley is a junior magazine journalism major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. You can email her at elril100@syr.edu.

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