'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Pulled Off Canadian Radio

A song commonly played during the holidays is getting the cold shoulder from Canadian broadcasters this year.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” written nearly 75 years ago, won’t be played on radio due to lyrics many people have found offensive in the age of #MeToo.

CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson said CBC Music pulled the song at midnight “for the time being.” Rogers Media said it did not include the song on its playlists this year and a spokesperson for Bell Media (parent company of this website) told The Canadian Press the song was never scheduled for airplay and won’t be.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a back-and-forth between a man trying to convince a woman to spend the night at his place because of bad weather. 

“Say, what’s in this drink?,” the women asks. Later, she declares: “I ought to say no, no, no sir.”

An article in the National Post on Dec. 20, 2004 called the song “an ode to statutory rape” because “the man gets the girl drunk amid her protestations so he can take advantage of her.”

John Spilker, a music and gender studies professor at Nebraska Wesleyan University, told the Tampa Bay Times the song “reads as coercion.” He said it shouldn’t be censored – “but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to talk about it.”

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was written by Frank Loesser in 1944 as something he could sing with his wife, Lynn Garland, at the end of a housewarming party. The lyrics make no mention of Christmas but the song became a staple of holiday season playlists.

It won the Oscar for Original Song after it was featured in the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter, performed by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalbán.

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" has been recorded by a long list of artists over the decades, including Canada’s Michael Bublé with Anne Murray and Virginia to Vegas with Alyssa Reid.

Bublé also recorded a version with Idina Menzel and the video featured children in the roles.

Not everyone has a problem with the song. Some defenders have said “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is, in fact, a feminist anthem.

“It’s not actually a song about rape,” opined someone who identified as a former English teacher and fan of ‘30s and ‘40s jazz in a Tumblr post. “In fact it’s a song about a woman finding a way to exercise sexual agency in a patriarchal society designed to stop her from doing so.”

The writer said the woman in the song wants to spend the night but knows that, at the time, it would be seen as scandalous. “Hey, what’s in this drink?” was an idiom in the ‘40s.

“It’s a joke about how she’s perfectly sober and about to have awesome consensual sex and use the drink for plausible deniability because she’s living in a society where women aren’t supposed to have sexual agency,” the post reads.

In 2010, writer Slay Belle of Persephone Magazine called “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” a song about sex (“wanting it, having it, maybe having a long night of it by the fire”) but it’s not a song about rape. "It’s a song about the desires even good girls have.”

Toronto Sun columnist Candice Malcolm doesn't understand the fuss. "This is why everyone hates political correctness," she tweeted. "We judge the past by today's hypersensitive left-wing standards & purposefully take things out of context to score petty victories. 'What's in this drink' was a playful jest at the time, not rape culture."

In 2016, songwriters Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski recorded an updated version of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with lyrics that focus on the importance of consent.

Canadian radio stations have followed in the snowy footsteps of several U.S. radio stations who yanked "Baby, It's Cold Outside" off the air. But one, Denver's KOSI 101.1, asked listeners if they wanted to hear the song or not. An online poll found that 95 per cent of the more than 15,000 responses were in favour of playing the song.

"While we are sensitive to those who may be upset by some of the lyrics, the majority of our listeners have expressed their interpretation of the song to be non-offensive," program director Jim Lawson said, in a release.

Cleveland's 96.5 KOIT, which pulled the song off the air, is currently polling its listeners and plans to announce the result on Dec. 20.

Needless to say, people on social media are divided. Here's a sample: