I read once that culture is the sum total of our unexamined assumptions.
We believe as a society that certain things are right and certain things are wrong. Examining those assumptions and changing our culture can be a difficult process. Sometimes, the change is cataclysmic, as was a Civil War fought over the assumption in some quarters that dark skinned people were inherently inferior to white skinned people and that is was OK for the latter to own the former as one would own a mule. The 1960s were a decade of unrest, partly due to a lot of unexamined assumptions being examined and changed for the first time.
In 2018, we’ve been reminded that many men assume it’s OK to use their power, wealth and/or fame to coerce women into sex. Eventually, that assumption will be shown to be immoral and our society will evolve into a better one.
That brings us to “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.” The song was written by Frank Loesser in 1944 and was used in the 1949 movie “Neptune’s Daughter,” in which it was sung by Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams. It wasn’t meant to be a Christmas song, but it has become one because of its winter theme. The song achieved notoriety this month when a radio station stopped playing it, saying its lyrics are inappropriate in the “Me, Too” era. Most of social media disagrees.
They are wrong.
In the song, the woman has been spending the evening with a man, but is ready to call it a night and go home. He pours on the charm, complimenting her hair and her “delicious lips.” Over a dozen times, she tells him no, but he’s having none of it. Eventually, she agrees to “maybe just a half drink more” then asks him “say, what’s in this drink?” Whatever it is, it still doesn’t work. He says to her “how can you do this thing to me?” Frankly, I think the wrong person is asking the question.
Hey, maybe a song about pressuring a woman to stay and engage in sexual activity when she doesn’t want to was assumed to be fine in the 1940s.
I say we should examine that assumption.