Baby it’s Cold Outside. Wow what an uproar over a song! A song, I admit, I’ve never paid attention to before so i went and listened to it. Catchy simple tune. Like many my initial thought was once again we’ve gone overboard and over reacted and I didn’t give it any more thought. Well… until I read my friend’s Julie post. You see she liked the song. She thought it had gone too far, and then she looked into it more. Unfortunately many of us stop reflecting with our initial gut reaction and put our backs up to other opinions – it’s how we often do things in our society. Julie wrote a long facebook post that she gave me permission to share below. Now first – I’m not demanding you agree with her, or me.
What I want to highlight is how Julie demonstrates a thoughtful and thorough response that moved beyond her gut reaction. We need more thought out responses like this. If you have a different view, make it without insulting or demeaning others for holding other views. In many ways, when we demean others and belittle others for holding views we don’t like, we often contribute to the issue. When we have thoughtful discussion we instead begin moving towards resolution and hopefully working towards solutions. To do this we also need to stop and listen and not just react. So I encourage you to open up your mind and consider Julie’s response. I would love to hear your thought-out response below in the comments.
Some background on Julie for you before I share her post. Julie works in Edmonton and has worked at the Pregnancy Care Centre and at the Saffron Sexual Assault Centre. She served at both places in the role of Public Education Coordinator. She has 10 years of public education experience and has researched and spoken on topics of sexual health, healthy relationships, sexual violence prevention, sexual harrassment, internet safety, and bullying. She also facilitated two day workshops on Responding to Sexual Violence and Abuse for the Alberta Association of Sexual Assault Services.
At the least we can say Julie is informed. At the best she is an expert. You don’t need to be either to think through the issues – you just have to be willing to dig deeper than a gut reaction. Without further delay – here is Julie’s post:
Of course I have something to say about the song coming off the radio.
I’m not going to lie. I like the song Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Last year I saw an article claiming that the song had no place on the radio anymore given the Me Too movement, and I thought, “Jeesh, this is too far.” Then I read the article. And it made me really think about the lyrics. This morning I saw portions of the movie where the song was sung. And it bothered me. Because he wasn’t listening. And the newscasters were saying “She’s saying no, but only because that’s what society at that time demanded of her….she wanted to say yes. And his behavior isn’t assaulting behavior. He doesn’t hurt her.” And I felt sick for two reasons.
One because as I watched the scene I had flashbacks to a “nice young man” who didn’t want me to go, who nicely ignored every no and didn’t assault me but made me feel trapped and worried for my safety. And second because this is coercive behavior. Ignoring a no and trying to convince otherwise is coercion, even if it’s done nicely. We all know what he wanted. He physically blocks her movement to leave. He puts his hand ( oh so gently) on her arm to turn her back into the room. This is a scene that does play out in many sexual assault situations. Not all sexual assaults are violent.
And even if the wheedling for her to stay doesn’t lead to aggression, even if she did want to stay but said no because she didn’t want people to talk …why couldn’t he respect the no? Two things can be true at once…maybe she did want to stay AND maybe she didn’t want people to talk. What’s wrong with him respecting her concern about propriety? Shouldn’t he respect that too? Something that’s been lost is the understanding that it’s OK to say no to sex for a variety of reasons, and being worried about your reputation is a valid reason to say NO even in 2018.
So many people are offended by the suggestion of taking this song off the radio. It’s just a song! A song that presents coercion as romantic. The MeToo movement is a bold movement asking for sexual assault to stop. So far asking people to stop sexually assaulting others hasn’t worked. Now they’re drawing attention to a song ( one song!) and asking that we stop playing it. It’s not about the song!! It’s that if sexual assault is going to stop WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY. The whole music industry and entertainment industry has a problem…of course there are worse songs, and movies, and videos out there. But we ALL know THIS one. And it’s just a start. And not really a painful step to take as one small way to draw attention to a worthy issue. Leave it on the radio, take it off, whatever. But everytime you do hear it, imagine some smooth talker cornering a young lady you respect. Think about how that makes you feel. And speak out against violence against people. Talking about taking a song off the radio is a mere drop in the bucket and people aren’t even willing to think about it. If you’re angry about this song coming off the radio, I ask you this? Are you doing anything more extreme to stop sexual violence? Taking this song off the radio won’t stop sexual violence, but it WILL make people think about and talk about why it’s been taken off…..and those kind of discussions are what WILL eventually reduce and stop sexual violence. If you’re mad about this song, could it be you’re not willing to do anything to stop sexual violence? Could it be that you don’t actually understand how rape myths perpetuate violence? It seems to me that negative reactions to taking one song off the radio may be due to a fear that to reduce sexual violence we may have to change the way we do some things. And that’s the crux of it. There are things we will have to DO differently, there are things we’ll have to THINK about differently if things are going to change. One song gone is the very least we’ll have to do to stop sexual violence.
So there you have it. If you’re like many you’ll have formulated your response to Julie before you finished reading. Maybe you liked it and maybe you didn’t. But Julie asks us some pointed questions. Before we respond, perhaps we need to slow down and think through those questions and honestly answer them ourselves. We might find ourselves uncomfortable with our own answers… and maybe that is the first step to our contributing to the solution of stopping sexual violence.