Trigger warning: talk about coercion and sexual assault.
I’m going to talk about what’s probably my least favourite Christmas song. No, I’m not talking about the ones that stop mid-song to preach at you to love Jesus and the Holy Spirit (although I really think I shouldn’t have to be subjected to those songs while I’m at work). I’m talking about “It’s Cold Outside.” I never really paid attention to this song until last year, when I actually listened to the lyrics. It’s a popular song for covers, including this recent one by one of the stars of Frozen Idina Menzel with Michael Bublé (wow, I had a difficult time watching that video all the way through due to the sexualization of the children). There’s also this interesting one by She & Him, where the parts are reversed.
Here are the lyrics (from MetroLyrics):
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 (I’ve been hopin’ that you’d drop in)
So very nice (I’ll hold your hand, they’re just like ice)
My mother will start to worry (Hey, beautiful, what’s your hurry)
And Father will be pacing the floor (Listen to that fireplace roar)
So really, I’d better scurry (Beautiful, please don’t hurry)
Well, maybe just a half a drink more (Put some music on while I pour)
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)
I oughtta say no, no, no sir (You mind if I move in closer)
At least I’m gonna say that I tried (And what’s the sense in hurting my pride)
I really can’t stay (Oh baby, don’t hold out)
Oh, but it’s cold outside
I simply must go (It’s cold outside)
The answer is no (Baby, it’s cold outside)
The welcome has been (So lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (Look out the window at that storm)
My sister will be suspicious (Your lips look delicious)
My brother will be there at the door (I ain’t worried about you brother)
My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious (That ol’ biddy, she ain’t gonna bother me)
Well, maybe just a cigarette more (You don’t need no cigarette, its smokin’ plenty up in here)
I’ve got to get home (Baby, you’ll freeze out there)
Say, lend me a coat (It’s up to your knees out there)
You’ve really been grand (I thrill when you touch my hand)
Oh, but don’t you see (How can you do this thing to me)
There’s bound to be talk tomorrow (Well, think of my lifelong sorrow)
At least there will be plenty implied (If you caught pneumonia and died)
I really can’t stay (Get over that hold out)
Oh, but baby its cold outside
The line that threw me off and made me actually listen to this song: “Say, what’s in this drink?” Wait…what? Did he just drug her? While actually listening to this song, red flags flew up in my mind. I wanted to shout to the woman: “Get out! Get out of there! He’s going to sexually assault you! He may have put something in your drink! Call a friend! Get out of there!”
The (traditionally) male part is all about coercing the (traditionally) female part into staying the night. If she is actually interested in staying the night, then she is taking part in the stereotypical dating advice of playing “hard to get.” (Psst…here’s better advice: Never play hard to get. No means no, and an enthusiastic yes means yes.) There’s also the underlying idea that if she stays the night, there will be Talk. In other words, her family and the neighbours will think she’s a slut (shock! gasp! a terrible thing!).
Why couldn’t the guy just lend her a coat? If she had a great time, and she indicates that she did, she’ll come hang out with him again (maybe when it’s not so cold outside). If she likes the guy, she’ll stay the night with him when she’s ready, not when he’s guilt-tripping her about how sad he would be if she got sick and died from the cold outside.
“How can you do this thing to me?” What thing? Tell you “no?” Give you a hard-on but not follow through? “Get over that hold out.” What? Yeah, you know what? I’d rather be out in the cold. Bye-bye!