’Tis the season for controversy over Christmas carol lyrics and learning about how much offence we should be taking to taking offence!
While I’d like to say, I’m not touching that mess with a 10 foot pole….. here I am, diving right in, sharing my thoughts on the Baby It’s Cold Outside song, and the current reaction to it. Of course everything in this post is my own opinion, and as always, I’m open to listening, learning and growing my perspective so go ahead and leave a comment letting me know your thoughts… but while I’ve got you here, let’s chat about this particularly divisive season of songs and how I feel about being offended.
Baby It’s Cold Outside…. I have to be honest, I have enjoyed this song for most of my life, and only in recent years did my perspective shift. Let’s be real, without further context, it does sound kind of “rapey”. With all of the justified attention on the #metoo movement, combined with a more prevalent understanding of the importance of consent, the lyrics are in complete opposition of these values. WAIT! Don’t leave just yet… this is one of those situations you may need to read the whole post to get to my point…. sorry about that!
So here’s the thing. Without context, the song is creepy. I don’t know that anyone is even arguing that point. What has people up in arms however is at least one radio station in Cleveland as well as another in San Fransisco are making the decision to no longer play the song on air. Some are accusing the program directors and radio hosts of being “too sensitive” or “too easily offended”, a real problem with society these days, they say.
A radio station in Denver had announced they too were pulling the song, but when met with overwhelming resistance from listeners, made an about face and the song is back in rotation there.
I recently read a post (from what I gather, came from a 2016 tumblr post written by teachingwithcoffee <- click to read it) that shared an angle on the song I hadn’t taken into consideration. It explained, in a much more eloquent way, that using some historical context, in the 1940’s a woman would not be able to outright say that she would like to stay with the man into the evening, or over night. At that time, the opinions of others (her family and neighbours) and society as a whole prevent her from saying “I am staying because I would like to be here”. So the man in the song is offering her excuses to use, should she be questioned about her decision to stay. A little less creepy, right? I think there is something to be said for looking at things through the historical lens, or context in which they were done or created. But I also believe that we need to use our modern perspectives to learn from the past and grow to be better in the future!
Do I think any song should be played or banned from radio without considering multiple viewpoints? No.
Should program directors and radio hosts do a little research and open up dialogue with listeners to determine what they want to hear on the radio? Yeah, obviously that just makes good business sense.
Should those discussions also be open to the idea that sometimes song lyrics are offensive to some and not others? Of course! (Hello, it’s 2013 calling… Blurred Lines would like even more attention please!)
In the last couple of days I’ve seen many posts all across social media making light of, mocking, or down right scolding those who have their feelings hurt or who are offended. Am I offended by this Christmas song? No, I am not, but I am deeply bothered by the attitude of the general public towards those who may be. Whatever happened to being kind? I’m making some assumptions, but has anyone angry about it actually taken the time out to listen to WHY this may be hurtful to someone? What if the person you blame for this is the victim of a sexual assault? Are you still going to be a jerk to them? If the song wasn’t played, would you have even noticed without the media circus? Is public radio the ONLY way you can consume music in your home? Does another person’s feelings inconvenience you so much, that you must aggressively rise up and fight or risk losing out on something that literally does not impact your day to day life?
I don’t understand the point of taking offence over somebody else taking offence. Regardless of the subject or my opinion on it, I feel like, in an attempt to be a good human, it is worth taking pause to consider how others feel. I worry that what we’re missing in the world is enough kindness and compassion. You don’t need to agree, but what if we tried harder to understand each other and give each other grace instead of criticism.
Perhaps I will use this as another teaching moment for my young son that “no” actually means “no”, and that women have not always been heard when they speak, something that sadly still requires attention today. But incase you are worried, I’m not “offended” by the song, however after writing this post, I can’t for the life of me get the tune out of my head.
And while we’re at it… if you still aren’t a fan of the original lyrics, which is totally cool, check out this updated version by Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski! I first heard it a couple of years ago, and really enjoy it! It’s now on my 2018 Holiday Favourites playlist on Spotify! It satisfies my desire to listen to the catchy, jazzy tune, while also eliminating any residual icky feelings that might remain even after reading the historical explanation!
As always, I’m curious to hear what you think, and remember, be kind.
I love ya,