I have a complicated relationship with Christmas music. To be honest, I have a complicated relationship with the idea of the “Christmas” season and how public schools give weeks off of school for one (two, if you count New Year’s) holiday and most schools don’t even give a day off for other religions’ high holidays, even though we live in a country where the government supposedly “can make no rule respecting an establishment of religion,” but that’s for another blog post.
The worst Christmas song by far is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” It is literally about a woman trying to leave a man’s house, and the man forcing her to stay and have another drink. Especially right now, with new sexual harassment allegations against powerful men coming out every day, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” should be taken off every list of classic Christmas songs (or it could be used as a lesson in consent for the old men in your life). Before we begin, I would like to say that yes, I have read the “Feminist Defense of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’” and I understand where that person is coming from, but I still think the song is creepy as heck and that it shouldn’t be a Christmas classic in this day and age. Now, let’s take a closer look at the lyrics and what exactly makes this song so terrible, shall we? (I have interspersed some gifs from “Portlandia,” “Broad City” and “Veep,” the three best shows on television, just to lower my heart rate a bit because I get really heated thinking about this song.)
“I really can’t stay — Baby it’s cold outside
I’ve got to go away — Baby it’s cold outside
This evening has been — Been hoping that you’d drop in
So very nice — I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice”
The song starts with the female protagonist politely reassuring the man that she had a nice time, but she really has to leave. She is probably only being nice so that he won’t get aggressive with her, but he only has one thing on his mind and interrupts her halfway through her sentence, then grabs her hands without asking.
“My mother will start to worry — Beautiful, what’s your hurry?
Father will be pacing the floor — Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I’d better scurry — Beautiful, please don’t hurry
Maybe just a half a drink more — Put some records on while I pour”
At this point, she already feels so threatened that she has to start making excuses about how her absence will affect other people in her life. Her first attempt at leaving should have worked, but she feels so trapped in the situation that she now has to base her self-worth on her parents’ perception of her to get this man to let her leave. And don’t say “maybe just a half a drink more” is her admitting that she wants to stay — you know she only says this because she doesn’t want the situation to escalate.
“The neighbors might think — Baby, it’s bad out there
Say, what’s in this drink? — No cabs to be had out there
I wish I knew how — Your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell — I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell”
Again with the interrupting. This is the part that heads into “red flag” territory — “Say, what’s in this drink?” ??? Is he trying to roofie her? Did he give her more alcohol than she wanted? Either way, this is not OK.
“I ought to say no, no, no — Mind if I move in closer?
At least I’m gonna say that I tried — What’s the sense in hurting my pride?
I really can’t stay — Baby don’t hold out
Ah, but it’s cold outside”
I think my least favorite lyric out of the entire song is “What’s the sense in hurting my pride?” This is just… ugh. It makes me so mad. He’s trying to make her feel bad for him, even though he’s the one who put her in this awful position. The worst reason to sleep someone is because you feel bad, and women have been socialized to always care for the underdog. This is such a terrible mind game, not to mention the fact that it’s really messed up that he will somehow get an ego boost from sleeping with this lady who clearly does not want to sleep with him? Please.
“I’ve got to get home — Oh, baby, you’ll freeze out there
Say, lend me your coat — It’s up to your knees out there
You’ve really been grand — Thrill when you touch my hand
Why don’t you see — How can you do this thing to me?”
Here, the female protagonist is finally getting a bit aggressive — why doesn’t he just lend her his coat if it is really that cold out? But he still ignores her. He just talks about how nice it is when she touches him. And then, one of the other terrible lines in the song: “How can you do this thing to me?” Excuse me?? This is classic abuser language, just like “look what you made me do” (yeah, I’m looking at you, Taylor Swift). The female protagonist isn’t doing anything to the man — she’s just trying to protect herself from this sexual predator! Yet, he is flipping the narrative around once again, latching onto her internalized misogyny and female guilt to make it seem like she’s doing him a disservice by refusing his advances. So disgusting.
“There’s bound to be talk tomorrow — Think of my life long sorrow
At least there will be plenty implied — If you caught pneumonia and died
I really can’t stay — Get over that hold out
Ah, but it’s cold outside
Oh, baby, it’s cold outside
Oh, baby, it’s cold outside”
Finally, the song is over, and it’s been a wild ride. I think I’ve made my point clear. Can we please stop listening to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”?