Baby it’s Stormy Outside – women’s sensuality in a new era
Baby, it’s cold outside….
No man should ever touch a woman without her permission, let’s begin with that. There is no excuse for the assumption that no really means yes. It goes without saying that a man should not be putting drugs into a woman’s drink. But when the news went out that the old song ‘Baby it’s cold outside’ was accused of being a date rape anthem this week and should, therefore, be banned, it came as a shock. I hadn’t heard the song in so long I’d no idea there was a need to ban it.
Women are sensual
Still, I was delighted to see some feminists argue that the myth of a woman being overpowered by a man in the lyrics was a great lie. In fact, the myth that women are simply not sexual, that they are merely sugar and spice, has always been a great lie. Of course women are sexual, they said, but the song was created before the women’s liberation movement. It was all about a time when a woman was compelled to return home at night lest she is judged.
Ah, I thought. Hadn’t feminists fought for the sexual freedom of women? And hadn’t this been completely non-existent in the 1940s, at the time the song was written? And wasn’t this a great time to discuss women’s sensuality, as I so love to do?
As a photographer, I love working with women on sharing and creating sensual images. The work has been inspiring and women often share that space to be safely sensual is liberating. I’ve been moved by the power and the passion women feel for their partners, for their lives. Women have shared stories about work, about dreams and the directions their lives would take. The woman’s movement has granted freedom and power to women which just wasn’t available in the ’40s, when Baby It’s Cold Outside was written.
Society’s expectations have changed
In the song, the woman shares how she must leave because of what other people would think of her, but she finally agrees to stay in male company just a little longer. She had to be persuaded because that is what she needed to do at the time. Society currently has different understandings and expectations of women. A woman is thankfully now free to express an interest in a man and to stay the night. And it should always have been this way. No woman has ever wanted a vicious maiden aunt to govern her sexuality.
The freedom women have gained has created different roles for both men and women. Boys no longer have to stifle all emotion or go off to fight wars simply because this is what is expected of them. Men do not have to persuade women to stay the night. As men, we’ve been granted partners who are liberated and able to share what they want. The hysteria of the Freudian era, where women were so stifled that they would faint or rip off their corsets in public out of pure frustration has long since passed.
There is no longer a need for a woman to feign disinterest least she is called vicious names by society. Women are no longer seen as having different (or no) desires. Women are no longer seen as weak, delicate and asexual.
But what does political correctness mean?
But in banning songs are we really playing a part in women’s lib? We know harassment is a terrible thing. Find me a man who truly believes women like to be harassed and I’ll show you a man who is mad. But banning a song from a different time seems to diminish the real struggles both sexes still face. Worse still was that the label ‘yucky’ was applied to the song lyrics by one commentator, as though harassment is the equivalent to trying to feed a toddler grainy pumpkin. As an observation on sexism, it stinks to high hell.
“We’re moving with the times…” one spokeswoman said. Yes, let’s move with the times. Speak out against misogyny and the belief systems which have stifled both men and women. Encourage equality. Share the importance of listening. But as far as stifling conversations goes, how is this moving with the times? What is she talking about? How can human beings understand one another if we cannot understand where we have come from and where we might be going?
Let’s keep talking
The woman in the song was a nervous wreck who worried what her brother, her sister, her maiden aunt might think of her staying over with a man. She wanted to be persuaded. She said ‘No’ when she meant ‘Yes’. She was forced to send a potentially dangerous message. Let this be a reason to keep the song alive. To understand the need for a woman to own her own sexual desires, and to be able to share, clearly and forever, specifically what she wants and doesn’t want.
What do the warriors of political correctness plan next? To move all of history until we lose all insight into how to move forward? How on earth would this seem okay?
I really can’t stay (but baby, it’s cold outside)
I’ve got to go away (but baby, it’s cold outside)
This evening has been (been hoping that you’d drop in)
So very nice (I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice)
My mother will start to worry (beautiful what’s your hurry?)
My father will be pacing the floor (listen to the fireplace roar)
So really I’d better scurry (beautiful please don’t hurry)
But maybe just a half a drink more (put some records on while I pour)
The neighbours might think (baby, it’s bad out there)
Say what’s in this drink? (no cabs to be had out there)
I wish I knew how (your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell)
I ought to say, no, no, no sir (mind if I move in closer?)
At least I’m gonna say that I tried (what’s the sense in hurtin’ my pride?)
I really can’t stay (oh baby don’t hold out)
But baby, it’s cold outside
I simply must go (but baby, it’s cold outside)
The answer is no (but baby, it’s cold outside)
Your welcome has been(how lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (look out the window at this dawn)
My sister will be suspicious (gosh your lips look delicious)
My brother will be there at the door (waves upon the tropical shore)
My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious (gosh your lips are delicious)
But maybe just a cigarette more (never such a blizzard before)
I’ve gotta get home(but baby, you’d freeze out there)
Say lend me a coat(it’s up to your knees out there)
You’ve really been grand (i thrill when you touch my hand)
But don’t you see? (how can you do this thing to me?)
There’s bound to be talk tomorrow (think of my lifelong sorrow)
At least there will be plenty implied (if you got pneumonia and died)
I really can’t stay (get over that old out)
Baby, it’s cold
Baby, it’s cold outside