The annual controversy of ‘Baby, it’s Cold Outside’

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Matthew Eisenstein, Staff Writer

“Hey, is that ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside’ you’re listening to? Y’know, the lyrics are rather problematic.”

“I’ve heard that, but I’m not sure I entirely agree. I think, as long as you understand the cultural context, they’re not too unreasonable.”

“It’s a song about a man trying to coerce a woman to stay despite her repeated attempts to leave. That is unacceptable.”

“Sure, but at the time of writing, it was more a matter of culture than of want. In other words, the woman was trying to leave because she was concerned about what others would think, not because she actually wanted to leave. He’s encouraging her to break dated cultural norms, that’s all it is.”

“That’s all well and good if you take everything she says in the song to be true. However, people make excuses to leave all the time, which often don’t reflect the real reasons. That’s why it’s important to respect others’ choices, because you never know what reasons they might have, and they might have good reasons not to share them. Regardless, I don’t even think that’s the whole story. There are parts of the song where the man uses emotionally manipulative tactics. Like he says ‘What’s the sense in hurting my pride,’ and ‘Making my life long sorrow, if you caught pneumonia and died.’ He’s trying to make the decision about his emotions, not her needs. Plus, what do you have to say about when she says ‘Say, what’s in this drink?’ What could that be implying besides that he’s trying to drug her?”

“Actually, that’s a perfect example of how the song has been disconnected from the cultural context. When the song was written, that phrase was used after one made a bad decision, to jokingly imply that they were influenced by alcohol. The joke being, in most cases, that the drink had nothing in it. See, when you take into account their culture, these criticisms don’t hold up.”

“Oh interesting, I didn’t realize that. Either way, you’ve said nothing of my other points.”

“Well I don’t disagree that there are some issues with how he handled the situation, but being a little manipulative is different than making somebody stay against their will. It’s true that we can’t know for certain whether or not she actually wanted to stay, but I don’t think we have a better indicator than what she states in the song.”

“Maybe, but I think we can also read between the lines a little. Usually, when arguing for something, people will keep reiterating their main point. In the song, she mentions a different family member each in each line, implying that it might not be the real reason she wants to go. I think it can very easily be understood as her making excuses because she wants to leave rather than genuine reasons.”

“Hmm, I guess we have different interpretations of the song then.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”