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Local radio station bans Baby, It's Cold Outside in #MeToo protest

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Anna Brech
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The Christmas classic has come under fire for its hazy grasp on consent - and now one radio station is calling time on the tune.

A local radio station in the States has pulled the Christmas anthem Baby, It’s Cold Outside from its playlist, in solidarity with the #MeToo movement.

Hosts for Ohio-based channel Star 102 said the festive classic was “manipulative and wrong”, and jarred with modern values.

The 1944 hit sees a man try to persuade a female guest from leaving his home, using the bad weather as an excuse. It’s drawn increasing criticism in recent years for its murky interpretation of consent. 

One line in particular - “say, what’s in this drink?” (sung by the woman) - is seen by many as a veiled reference to date rape. 

Star 102 host  Glenn Anderson acknowledged that the song was written in “a different time”, but said its message was inappropriate.

“The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended, but in a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place,” he wrote in a statement. 

Another Star 102 host, Desiray, agreed that Baby, It’s Cold Outside is not the kind of song you would want to pass onto the younger generation. 

“People might say, ‘Oh, enough with that #MeToo,’” she told CNN. “But if you really put that aside and read the lyrics, it’s not something that I would want my daughter to be in that kind of a situation.”

Baby, It’s Cold Outside appeared in the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter, and has since been covered by everyone from Lady Gaga to Michael Bublé.

Until recently, its controversial lyrics passed unnoticed. But with #MeToo catapulting issues of sexual harassment and consent into the spotlight, its meaning has been more closely interrogated.

Critics point out that the woman involved in the catchy, back-and-forth exchange repeatedly says no to the man; and the man duly ignores her. At one point, he even accuses her of “hurting my pride” by wanting to go home. 

A poll by Star 102 on Facebook (above) revealed that most listeners believe Baby, It’s Cold Outside is not inappropriate. 

However, sexual assault campaigners in the region welcomed the move.

“I think in 2018, what we know is consent is ‘Yes’ and if you get a ‘No’ it means ‘No’ and you should stop right there,” said Sondra Miller, president of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

“I’ve asked them [listeners] to stop and think about the perspective of a survivor who was raped in that type of circumstance.”

A few years ago, musicians Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski updated the classic tune to give an empowering message around consent. 

In the new version, the man responds to the woman’s protests that she must get home with lines such as, “I’m hoping you get home safe”, and “you reserve the right to say no”.

Take a listen, below.

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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