My Take on the "Date Rape Song" - Baby, It's Cold Outside

by Saturday, December 27, 2014
Seems every holiday I get into a discussion about this song, and every one of them is enlightening. I re-iterate my take on it, and each year add more info and research to my personal brainings. Thought I would put my current thoughts down this year for later reference.

To start, here is one of the breakdowns of the song I really enjoyed reading:

In short, some of the lines we think of today as suspiciously rapey are actually common colloquialisms (read the part about the drink in particular), not literal; and ultimately this is a song about a woman who wants to stay, but the status quo is against it. She is on a date with a guy helping her come up with excuses to actually do what she wants to do rather than what society expects her to do (and incidentally something he wants, too ;).

This whole angle is, for me, supported by the fact it was written by a husband and wife music team who, as a matter of tradition in their home, every Christmas party would sing a song to perform as a duet for their friends. This was one of those songs (their first, by some accounts), originally performed in their very own living room. And while misogyny was rampant throughout the ages, I had a hard time imagining a husband and wife writing a song about coercive sex/rape for a light Christmas gathering...but...

While I love that breakdown, on a friend's discussion thread about this song, it is pointed out that the song does not have a "male" and "female" part on the original sheet music. They are characters called the "wolf" and the "mouse"--in short, a clear case of unequal power between a predator and prey, right? But while this fact might keep me off-balance on how to feel about whether this is a song about male dominance over a weakling woman, I discovered that the first time this song was used in a movie, it was performed twice in the film: once with a man playing the lion and a woman playing the mouse, and the other was a woman in the lion role and a man as the mouse.

Which lead ME to conclude that this is about one lover (or hopeful lover) simply trying every angle to get their intended to stick around longer because they desire them. And I conclude for myself that pretty much everyone I know has tried at least a few lines on at least one occasion to try and convince a paramour to stay a little longer by offering any available excuse. I wasn't being "rapey" when I tried to get my husband-then-boyfriend to stay the night when he had to work the next day by telling him it was icy out and warm in here, or I could give him a ride in the morning, or many other ways I tried to knock down his potential excuses so he would stay (which he and I both knew he wanted to do, despite his protestations of trying to be "responsible"   )

So while I think there is one lingering manipulation I do not condone ("What's the sense in hurting my pride?" crosses the line for me into pretty overtly-dickish), after all the research and soul-searching I am in the "not rapey" camp on this one and enjoy the song immensely.

TL;DR Not rapey to me. Do your own research and let me know what you think.

As a reward, here is the ORIGINAL original. Well, nearly. It is Frank and Lynn Loesser, the two who first wrote and sang this song; with the original lyrics, which are a little different than we may be familiar with today, plus with a little banter!

And I love this Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton version, full of improv and mirth.


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