In this era of the Harvey Weinsteins, James Tobacks, Russell Simmonses and Matt Lauers, rape culture is being scrutinized more heavily than ever before. Things that were once given a pass before are no longer allowed the same type of latitude, and for good reason. Now America is waking up to the fact that we have an insidious, deeply rooted problem – one that will likely take decades and no small amount of elbow grease to fix.
This scathing cultural gaze has even turned to that most hallowed of traditions – Christmas songs.
Now that the holidays are upon us, the feminist wrath will fall, as it always does, on that titan of Christmas songs "Baby It's Cold Outside."
You remember the one. Written by acclaimed songwriter Frank Loesser in 1944, it’s a call and response duet in which a horny man tries to get the object of his affections to spend the night with him.
On the surface, the song is objectively skeevy.
The man, who is identified as “wolf,” notes that “it’s cold outside.” He offers the woman, designated as “mouse,” a drink. The whole set-up seems like rape 101, particularly when Mouse asks Wolf, “say, what’s in this drink?”
Comedy website Funny or Die even did a horrifying "honest" rendition of it.
In the video, the Wolf, played by actor and podcaster Scott Aukerman, resorts to increasingly sinister attempts to get the Mouse, actress Casey Wilson, to stay the night. In a clever reference to actor Bill Cosby, Wolf puts pills in Mouse’s drink, thus prompting the “what’s in that drink” line. Then he physically attempts to restrain her, even resorting to tying her to the chair with duct tape when his efforts aren’t successful.
Finally, Mouse is forced to hit him over the head with a shovel, after which she reminds the audience that the song is “completely inappropriate.”
But what if the song wasn't as inappropriate as we thought? What if it was, in fact, a clever allusion to women's sexual agency?
This is what one very Tumblr user has claimed. When Tumblr user teachingwithcoffee posted “It’s time to bring an end to the Rape Anthem Masquerading As Christmas Carol,” they had no idea another Tumblr user was waiting in the wings to give them – and us – the deep-dive schooling on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” we never knew we needed.
Tumblr user bigbutterandeggman is a self-proclaimed former English teacher/current nerd and a "big fan of jazz of the 30s and 40s."
Therefore, she explained (we are assuming she is a she), she is well versed enough to explain the intricacies of the song to the uninitiated.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” she says, is not the rape anthem we think, but actually a very clever sendup of the sexual social mores of the time in which it was written. Particularly the “what’s in that drink” line.