Look folx. I know there are seventy gillion think pieces about everyone’s favourite Christmas song, Baby It’s Cold Outside. But this isn’t really that. People love to debate about otherwise insignificant things and leave the real problems on the sidelines. I get where people are coming from both sides of this particular argument: It’s a catchy song that’s been a Christmas staple for decades, and, well… it’s kind of date rape-y.
But here’s the thing: a) not all things age well, translate well, or hold up over time. You shouldn’t have to research the cultural context of something to justify something seemingly repulsive. And b) we shouldn’t get caught up in the song. Instead of talking about Baby It’s Cold Outside, can we just talk about consent?
Look, I don’t want to talk to you about the social mores of the 40s so don’t @ me. I don’t care. If you love the song, that’s great. Love it. What I do care about is that fact that back then, and definitely still today, a lot of men (let’s face it, it’s usually cis hetero men) think that women say no to be coy. They don’t really mean no, they mean convince me. They’re just playing.
Maybe some women do that. Hopefully the woman in the song is one of them. But suggesting not taking no for an answer is ever okay is seriously dangerous. Fuck that shit. If that woman (let’s face it, it’s usually women or trans and nb folx) ends up sleeping with you after saying no at some point, you very probably have date raped her. If you “convinced” her to stay with you, you’ve actually coerced her, and that is not consent.
Furthermore, plying someone with alcohol is not an okay way to get someone to sleep with you. If you’re doing it on purpose, you are essentially drugging that person. You knew they wouldn’t have otherwise said yes. If you are consciously and purposefully getting someone drunk so you can sleep with them, it is not consent. Furthermore, if that someone is already drunk, so drunk that they can’t say no to you, they certainly cannot say yes. A lack of a no isn’t a yes. Yes means yes, dummies! How many times do we have to say it?!
This all reminds me very much of the Aziz Ansari situation of last year, and in this post I get into the issue of affirmative consent. But, it bears repeating. When you are a man and you’re with a woman, you’re probably physically in the position of power. Generally, the woman is very aware of this. If she doesn’t want to sleep with you, she is probably going to try to gently get herself out of the situation and survive.
The leading cause of injury to women aged 14-44 is intimate partner violence. Because of this, women are often aware that if they outright refuse a man, it’s possible he will react with violence. To combat this, many women take the more “polite” and seemingly “coy” approach. But they’re not being coy. They are trying to say no and not get hurt.
Men, you need to know this. You need to seek to understand the rape culture that we live in, and how so many elements of our society play into it. Maybe it’s just a song, but it’s still a song that reinforces dangerous ideas about consent. If you like this song, great. It is super catchy. But, this holiday season, let’s all educate ourselves and others. Let’s not get caught up in a stupid song; let’s get to the heart of the issue and talk about consent instead.
Beth O’Brien is a library assistant and book blogger. Born and raised in Atlantic Canada, she lives in picturesque Nova Scotia with her cat Edith. You can often find her rocking double denim with her nose in a book and a craft beer in her hand. Follow her on Twitter @fuelldbyfiction.