Baby It’s Cold, Culture, and Change

I first heard the idea that “Baby It’s Cold Outside” as a rape rant a while back and thought it a bit far fetched.

I listened to it again and although I could see the point, it still seemed a bit “off?”

Then I read Shatner’s comments, and something there seemed wrong, although I couldn’t articulate exactly what it was.

A short response to Shatner’s comments changed that. The comment, which I cannot find to quote, was something like, “You’ve missed the point. It’s not up to the guy.”

And the sun burst through the clouds for me.

Okay. I realized my cultural take was that rape is an act of violence. Anything up to violence wasn’t rape. But I am the same generation as Shatner, where, when I was young, women were ornaments, expected to be the “moral guardians” of their families, live for their families, and put up and shut up with whatever men wanted of their bodies. The penultimate Barbie doll outfit when it was new, when I was little, was a bridal dress.

I am a rape survivor, no matter how you parse it, I was raped. It was a violent act. I probably as a young woman put up and shut up 50 or more times with men going farther and using my body more than I wanted them to. I wasn’t discrete, careful or picky enough for a long time (rape survivor and PTSD both contributed there).

But I also described that rape, for years, to men, and even male psychologists said to me, dismissively, “Oh, you were date raped.” as if that made it less of a rape?

I was culturally programmed to “put up and shut up” because of when I was raised. All those June Cleaver, Betty Crocker and Barbie stereotypes contributed. And the sexual revolution changed a lot, but all that stuff still lurks under there, because that’s what being a woman was when I first saw myself as a girl.

This isn’t a bludgeon to beat men with Mr. Shatner, it’s a major cultural shift. I saw the song for years as a seduction song, not rape. And, although there’s no violence in it, I can understand now why someone could see it as rape, because the male character is ignoring what the female says, and that’s not acceptable any more.

sheet music

For years, I thought I’d processed the rape, I could talk about it right? Then about 20 years afterwards, I heard a show on NPR about date rape and this teen-aged guy said something like, “You can’t pay attention to what they say! They think they can’t act like they want it, because they wouldn’t be the right kind of girl if they did. So you can’t listen to them.”

I told DH about this later. When I relayed the comment by the kid, I started crying and cried for days. (Hit a chord, ya ‘think?)

And yet, despite all that, my first reaction was still if there was no violence, there was no rape in “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

I’m culturally programmed; we all are. But the programming has changed.

Hallelujah — It’s about time!

 

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