The noise outside
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is one of those Christmas songs that really has nothing to do with Christmas — it’s just about cold weather, and also sexual coercion.
Famously, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” written by Frank Loesser in 1944, tells the story of a man and woman indoors on a snowy night; the woman repeatedly tries to depart for home and is repeatedly told that it’s too cold for her to travel. The woman, famously, asks, “What’s in this drink?” In the original score, the male part was denoted as the “wolf” and the female as the “mouse,” a predatory view of sex whereby the man must not woo but win that suffuses the entire song. “No” is never “no” over the course of the song.
The song has been defended as a narrative about a woman constructing her own excuses, as it was difficult for a woman in 1944 to stay over at a man’s house because she wanted to. However, it was also difficult for a woman in 1944 to say “no” and be heard; the song’s repeated covers over the years simply indicate how deeply ingrained in our culture is the idea (familiar from the work of Camille Paglia) that saying “no” is merely part of the flirtatious dance between the genders. Here are a few of the covers that have particularly creeped us out in recent years. (“The 6 creepiest ‘Baby it’s coldoutside’ covers,” Daniel D’addario, Salon.com)
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Love, love, love this tune. Love its sultry jazzy feel. The lyrics may be out of date, with modern day connotations, but I do not think it is about date rape. The drink has something that warms you like rum and gets you in the mood. Sometimes with music the tune is more important than the lyrics—the tune is about two adults enjoying each other's company and wanting a little more. Absolutely love it—it's not at all like many of the modern in your face with sex tunes.
It's not impossible that Daniel could come around to see this. But you see, his reaction is determined right now mostly by the fact that he knows most of us see it as lovely / charming and harmless.
Imagine him at court with his sophisticated friends in the only great castle on the landscape. Imagine that as much fun as they're having inside — which might well include a lot of the testing and flirting and stuff-for-further-gossip as this song — they might like to step outside, onto the grounds and beyond. And imagine that it won't do to have the "temper" they've built inside have to maintain itself midst the kind of aggressive notes uncowed people with totally different cultural DNA, would grossly jostle them with.
So in preparation, he and his friends try to bind weights to every pleasurable instinct we might have — heavy pressure is applied to every one of these pleasures, so that as we squeeze here and there to find some way to cope with the weights, there ends up in the end much less fruition — smoke tendrils making their way from under cobblestones, rather than trumpet noises out in clear air, that can essentially without steeling yourself be walked through and ignored.
So he and his smart crowd can range out of the castle onto the cobblestoned grounds, and beyond across the paved landscape — if the party should carry them there.
After this mastery has been demonstrated, a good long ranging across the total landscape, if one of his friends brought up this song and pointed out its actually pleasing resemblances to the sexual rivalry that so entranced people in the 30s, he might even acknowledge the point, and in consequently hearing it again fresh, enjoy it.