WDOK Christmas 102.1 in Cleveland, Ohio, self-dubbed “Cleveland’s Christmas station,” will no longer be playing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” as part of its 24-hour Christmas rotation due to listener complaints, according to local Fox 8 News.
The song, penned by Frank Loesser in 1994 as a duet for him to sing with his wife at parties, was later sold to MGM for use in 1949’s Neptune’s Daughter. In the years since, it has gone on to become a must-listen Christmas tune, sung by everyone from Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart to Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel and played on radio stations across the nation as the holiday season begins.
In recent years, however, the song has come under critique for its “date-rapey” lyrics, in which a man tries to dissuade a woman from leaving a party despite her repeated protests. In a blog on the station’s website, radio host Glenn Anderson explained the reason for pulling the song, citing its predatory nature.
“I gotta be honest, I didn’t understand why the lyrics were so bad…Until I read them,” he wrote. “Now, I do realize that when the song was written in 1944, it was a different time, but now while reading it, it seems very manipulative and wrong. 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.”
Those controversial lyrics include the woman singing “Say, what’s in this drink?” and the man later singing “Mind if I move in closer?” and “What's the sense in hurtin' my pride?"
“It really pushed the line of consent,” Cleveland Rape Crisis Center President and CEO Sondra Miller said. “The character in the song is saying ‘no,’ and they're saying well, ‘does no really mean yes?’ and 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.”
“People might say, ‘oh, enough with that #MeToo,’ but if you really put that aside and listen to the lyrics, it’s not something I would want my daughter to be in that kind of a situation,” midday host Desiray told Cleveland’s Fox 8. “The tune might be catchy, but let’s maybe not promote that sort of an idea.”
Despite the controversy surrounding the station’s decision, which include some people threatening not to tune in again, WDOK posted a poll regarding “Baby It’s Cold Outside” on its website, with the majority of respondents supporting the decision to remove the song due to its lyrics.