A couple rewrote “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to sound less like a rape scene
The holiday version of Your Problematic Fave is no doubt “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”: a lovely melody with lyrics that make you want to call the cops. Luckily, a new pro-consent version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” retains the joy of this Christmastime classic minus the nasty feeling of supporting rape culture.
Originally written for the 1940s film musical Neptune’s Daughter, the song centers on a woman trying to leave a late-night party and a man convincing her to stay the night. While lyrics like “my maiden aunt’s mind is vicious” and “there’s bound to be talk tomorrow” have led some people to interpret it as a reaction against negative perceptions of female sexual agency, for the most part, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has become the go-to creeper anthem for the Yuletide season. Just check out the infamous line where the woman sings, “Say, what’s in this drink?” and the man replies, “No cabs to be had out there.” Are the phone lines cut, too? Run, lady. RUN!
Singer-songwriters Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski’s revamped version does away with this grossness in favor of unambiguously pro-consent, feminist interaction. In this sweetly lo-fi rendition, Lemanski responds, “You reserve the right to say no” to Liza’s “I ought to say no, no, no,” and the question “What is this drink?” receives a clear answer (“Pomegranate La Croix”). The exchange wraps up with the couple mutually arranging a date at the Cheesecake Factory and looking forward to seeing each other again. It’s a far cry from the scumball vibe of the original, which was less “your body, your choice” and more like this:
That is not the body language of a woman who wants to stay the night. That’s a woman trying to reach into her pocket so she can surreptitiously dial 911.
As the duo explained in an interview with CNN, their version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” came from a shared dislike of the original lyrics. “You never figure out if she gets to go home,” Liza told CNN. “You never figure out if there was something in her drink.” Lemanski agreed, describing the song as “so aggressive and inappropriate.”
Liza also feels that the problem goes beyond the song to larger issues of consent and assault. “I don’t think I can think of one friend of mine who’s a woman who hasn’t been in dangerous situations with men,” she said in the CNN interview. She hopes people who take their remake to heart “will donate to charity or do some volunteer work at shelters or sexual assault centers” and encourages people to “definitely step out of your comfort zone and do something and help someone.”
A sexually coercive song being turned into a stand against rape culture — now that’s a genuinely heartwarming holiday occurrence.