The censorship of the holiday song Baby, it’s Cold Outside has me a little heated. Before I begin my rant, here is my disclaimer: if you lack humour, turn the page. This is for people who know that this classic song is not about assault. Not even close. It’s not even in the realm of such a horrific intent.
I get it. Times change. But history doesn’t. This song, taken in the context of the time in which it was written, is not a threat to anyone. Ask your grandmother.
I bet she loved this song. Your grandfather likely sang it to her and they giggled and swayed, maybe shared a kiss. It’s a good thing they did. You’re welcome.
I say this knowing full well what assault is, also what it means to hold my drink in my university pub all night just in case someone spiked it. I also carried pepper spray in my purse because I went to a university where carjacking and sexual assaults were more common than political demonstrations. I don’t need a lecture on consent either. Trust me. Yet, this song still does not offend me.
I’m a history grad. One of the first things we were taught about studying the past is to view it through the lens of the time in which history occurred, so we are fair to the circumstances. We can analyze it in the present, but our judgements should not sway our discourse. So, when the female lyrics deemed offensive in this song say, “What’s in this drink?” I know that this is a phrase meaning, “This is awfully strong. How much did you pour in it?”
I know this because I heard my grandmother, who loved this song, say it more than once, when my Grandpa Jack was generous with the rye at our family gatherings. Mind you, he was the man who used expressions like “that’s the cat’s pajamas.” Even as a child I knew he wasn’t suggesting my feline was wearing my onesie around the house. I knew it meant something was good, sort of like how my teenagers say “awesome” about things that are not actually awe inspiring. It’s a phrase. “Gag me with spoon.” Remember?
This song is about flirting in a time when people didn’t hook up on the first date – or the third for that matter. It’s a time when people used words like courtship, because it was actually a thing. I fear future generations are missing out on the fun of what I consider the foreplay of dating. Texting is not flirting. It’s personal avoidance. Here’s a clue: nobody wants to see your naked parts show up on their phone. Nobody looking over the recipient’s shoulder in the grocery store line-up does either. Actually, maybe somebody does, which should freak you out. It would freak your grandmother out.
Flirting is done in real time, in person, which makes it exhilarating, more like a sport. It’s like a well-played tennis match. Back and forth. It’s the thrill of the chase, but there’s no rush. Good flirting takes time. I’ve been hounding the Carpenter since Thanksgiving. He likes to play hard to get (he’s not).
Look, I understand the importance of the dialogue around this song, but the outright censorship is just plain ridiculous. Romance never goes out of style. Or maybe it just did. Sure hope not.
Baby, it’s warm in my house (the Carpenter is on alert).