Fact Check: Is “Baby It's Cold Outside” a Date Rape Song?

Fact Check: Is “Baby It's Cold Outside” a Date Rape Song?
Fact Check: Is “Baby It's Cold Outside” a Date Rape Song?

So the holiday season is on us again and it’s time to indulge in all those traditional pleasures – decorating the tree, eating too much, exchanging gifts with loved ones and arguing about whether “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a musical endorsement of rape.

Highlights

• Frank Loesser wrote “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in 1944, for a Christmas duet with his wife. Over the following decades it became a much-loved festive song, and it’s been performed by an array of stars, including Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, Bette Midler and even Lady Gaga. For the last few years, though, it’s been coming under attack. Politically correct activists say it’s a celebration of date rape – or even statutory rape. Is there any truth in that, or is it just the usual leftist hysteria? Let’s have a look.
• For a start, it’s not about statutory rape (sorry, National Post). Statutory rape is sex with a minor. There isn’t even anything in the song to suggest the woman is much younger than the man, and we can be sure she’s not a minor. If she was, she wouldn’t be drinking – and she is.
• It’s not about date rape drugs either. Yes, the woman says at one point “Say, what’s in this drink?”. Rohypnol? Sorry, lefties. This was a common joke in the 1940s, when the song was written – and the answer was “Not much alcohol.”
• Does the woman want to leave? Listen to her words and it doesn’t really sound like it, does it? “I ought to say no, no, no, sir” isn’t the same as actually saying it, is it? We all know we ought to say no to a lot of things – especially in the much more socially repressive 1940s – but a lot of the time we say yes anyway. Because we want to.
• “But she’s objecting! She wants to go!” No, not really. Look at her objections. They’re all about what other people will think. What will her mother say? How will her father react? And what about the neighbors? Sure, they’re all going to have something to say about a girl who spends the night with her boyfriend, and it makes sense for her to consider their objections, but she doesn’t seem to have any of her own.
Actually read the lyrics – or better yet, just calm down and listen to the song – and it’s very clear that there’s no rape, or even coercion, involved. This is just the age-old dance of seduction, and the woman ends up staying because she wants to. And, to satisfy the social conventions of the time, she even has her excuse at hand – because baby, it’s cold outside.