Call it death by #MeToo?

A growing number of radio stations across the country are banning the 1944 holiday standard Baby, It’s Cold Outside from their Christmas playlists. The reason: lyrics, by 2018 standards, that suggest a man pressuring a woman to have sex—or at least stay for, shall we say, a romantic interlude—despite her repeated protests that she wants to leave.

Over the past week, the song, currently No. 23 (Dean Martin version) on Billboard’s list of digital holiday song sales, has been taken off the air by radio stations in Cleveland, SanFrancisco, and Denver, although that Colorado station has since decided to put it back in its holiday rotation, after protests from disgruntled listeners.

Red Skelton And Betty Garrett In ‘Neptune’s Daughter’, 1949. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song from the film.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

Various renditions of the song—Wikipedia lists more than 60 versions recorded over the past 70 years—have presented the lyrical exchange, typically between a man and a woman, as playful. It’s noteworthy, however, that in the original version, from the 1949 movie Neptune’s Daughter, there are two sets of couples singing to each other, and in the second of those pairings, it is the woman who is pressuring the man to stay.

Yet, in an era more enlightened about sexual harassment and the pressures women face, some of the lyrics seem downright creepy. The person being asked to stay (almost always sung by a woman) clearly states, “The answer is no.” And in one eerily Bill Cosby-esque exchange, she asks her male companion, “Say, what’s in this drink?”

Still, in various polls, public sentiment seems to be overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the song on the air. In this poll by WCBS in New York City, for instance, 95% of the more than 1,700 respondents voted against a ban.

Here are the full lyrics. You be the judge.

(Duet version with Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel)

I really can’t stay (Baby it’s cold outside)
I gotta go away (Baby it’s cold outside)
This evening has been (Been hoping that you’d dropped 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)
Well maybe just a half a drink more (I’ll put some records on while I pour)

The neighbors 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) (Why thank you)
I ought to say no, no, no sir (Mind if move in closer?)
At least I’m gonna say that I tried (What’s the sense of hurtin’ my pride?)
I really can’t stay (Baby don’t hold out)
Baby it’s cold outside

Ah, you’re very pushy you know?
I like to think of it as opportunistic

I simply must go (Baby it’s cold outside)
The answer is no (But baby it’s cold outside)
The welcome has been (How lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (Look out the window at that storm)
My sister will be suspicious (Gosh your lips look delicious!)
My brother will be there at the door (Waves upon a tropical shore)
My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious (Gosh your lips are delicious!)
Well maybe just a cigarette more (Never such a blizzard before) (And I don’t even smoke)

I’ve got to get home (Baby you’ll freeze out there)
Say lend me a coat? (It’s up to your knees out there!)
You’ve really been grand, (I feel when I touch your hand)
But don’t you see? (How can you do this thing to me?)
There’s bound to be talk tomorrow (Think of my life long sorrow!)
At least there will be plenty implied (If you caught pneumonia and died!)
I really can’t stay (Get over that old out)
Baby it’s cold
Baby it’s cold outside
Okay fine, just another drink then
That took a lot of convincing!

Songwriter: Frank Loesser

Baby It’s Cold Outside (duet with Michael Bublé) lyrics © KobaltMusic Publishing Ltd.

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