The new “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is supposed to now be a “feminist” version, but it’s actually a huge disappointment. Real feminists know that Frank Loesser’s 1944 classic is actually already very female-empowering with its sex-forward lyrics and female mindset.
It’s been a rough few years for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Radio programmers have been at war with the wintertime classic since last year. Radio stations around the U.S. banned it. So pop stars John Legend and Kelly Clarkson joined the crusade to erase the original tune from the airwaves and recorded an unbearable politically correct version of the song.
John Legend & Kelly Clarkson, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
Sure, the new version has expert musicianship. And you can’t argue with the heavenly voices of Legend and Clarkson. Still, the lyrics are just plain obnoxious.
Legend and Clarkson sing lyrics like “what will my friends think? (I think they should rejoice) If I have one more drink? (It’s your body and your choice).” It’s straining so hard to be feminist that it feels like it’s mocking the movement. The duo created a song that puts a woman in an unfair position. Even if Legend is trying his hardest not to be aggressive or pressure Clarkson, she’s still stuck having to feel guilty for being sex-positive. There’s no equality in the situation.
The power dynamic is all wrong. Clarkson has to battle unfair societal standards against women’s sexual desires and Legend can sing with ease without a hint of stress. The gender imbalance is obvious when they sing, “but don’t you see? (I want you to stay, it’s not up to me) There’s bound to be talk tomorrow (Well, they can talk, but what do they know?)” Though the lyrics are intended to make Legend appear understanding, they actually make Legend seem like he’s completely unaware of the societal pressures on women.
Did they forget that feminism means the equal treatment of men in women? If they really wanted to make a feminist version, they should’ve had them both singing about wanting to spend the night together because it’s cold outside.
The original version also has skewed power dynamics, but was actually sex-forward for the time. A woman just didn’t spend the night at a man’s house unless it was with her husband back then.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from the 1949 musical ‘Neptune’s Daughter’
While women had to be sneaky about pre-marital sex, there was far less social pressure on men. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is simply a duet where both of them slyly agree to consensually get it on with zero judgment of the other.
Since only one of the singers had sexual freedom (the man), the song becomes a dialogue—not so much between the man and woman (because let’s face it, it’s pretty obvious they both want her to stay), but between the woman and societal expectations. She says “I ought to say no, no, no” with the most important word being “ought.” She wants to stay, but then the rest of the song is her giving excuses like her parents will be pissed and her neighbors will gossip—never saying she, herself, would actually be upset about it.
It’s all about context. For the ‘40s, the original “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was female-empowering. 2019 is a different time and women have much more power over their bodies. This new version by Legend and Clarkson makes you wonder if these pop stars need a refresher course on what feminism really means.
But, please, go ahead, radio programmers, ban “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” but keep playing songs by R. Kelly, Michael Jackson and Chris Brown.