Fully-Grown Woman, It’s Cold Outside!

Published December 6, 2012 by auddity

What does the fact that Glee’s version features two men singing mean for the gender implications of this song? What parallels can we draw between butch/femme, man/woman, dominant/submissive roles? How do we determine/assign gender roles in same sex couples? Cis/trans couples? Hetero couples?


Today while listening to the Glee Christmas CD at work I thought to myself, “I’m going ignore the gender role implications of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ and just enjoy it because it’s the holidays and I am once again single and I wish someone would stop me from going outside in the cold just because they wanted to be with me.”

But I can’t. I can maybe overlook the rather suggestive lyrics for one listening, but overall it is actually a really distressing song! Let’s deconstruct and analyze:

I really can’t stay
But baby it’s cold outside
I’ve got to go away
But baby it’s cold outside
This evening has been
Been hoping that you’d drop in
So very nice
I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice
My mother will start to worry

I know this is dated, but still, this line automatically puts the woman in a submissive position. She still lives with her mother, is dependent on her parents, possibly younger than her male counterpart.

Beautiful, what’s your hurry?

He’s now reducing her to just her looks.

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
Put some records on while I pour

Now he’s getting her drunk.

The neighbors might think
Baby, it’s bad out there
Say, what’s in this drink?

Really drunk.

No cabs to be had out there
I wish I knew how
Your eyes are like starlight
To break the spell
I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell
I ought to say no, no, no, sir
Mind if I move in closer?

Did that sound like consent to you? Because “I ought to say no” isn’t “yes.”

At least I’m gonna say that I tried
What’s the sense in hurting my pride?
I really can’t stay
Baby don’t hold out

Coercing her into sex. Putting it on her to not be a frigid prude.

Oh, but it’s cold outside

I simply must go
But, baby, it’s cold outside.
The answer is no

She actually said “no,” so now it could be considered rape.

But, baby, it’s cold outside.
This 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.

Fragmentation: reducing a woman to a sex object by focusing solely on certain (sexualized) body parts. In this case her lips are something to be devoured, consumed, and the man is a position to do so.

My brother will be there at the door
Waves upon a tropical storm.
My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious
Oh, your lips are delicious.
Maybe just a cigarette more
Never such a blizzard before.

I’ve got to go home
But, baby, you’ll freeze out there
Say, lend me your coat
It’s up to your knees out there
You’ve really been grand
I’m thrilled when you touch my hand
But don’t you see
How can you do this thing to me?

Putting the blame on her for “holding out.”

There’s bound to be talk tomorrow
Think of my life long sorrow

Implication this is not just a one night stand? (This may be a stretch but whatevs.)

At least there will be plenty implied

She’s highly concerned with what others think of her actions and how it will affect her reputation. She is not an independent woman (as evidenced by living with her parents, worrying about the neighbors, needing the man’s coat to leave, etc.)

If you caught pneumonia and died
I really can’t stay
Get over that hold out

Get over it. Your morals, reputation, sexual health/habits/preferences aren’t a big deal so let’s do this thing!

Ohhh, baby it’s cold outside

Maybe I’m being too critical, but times they have a-changed and although this song masquerades as a cute and innocent flirtation between lovers, it is no longer acceptable. Sorry if I just ruined your Christmas.


3 comments on “Fully-Grown Woman, It’s Cold Outside!

  • Yup this song bothers me too. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I had to sing a choral version in high school -it STILL bothers me that our director put that on our program. It sent an entirely wrong message to the 100+ students who rehearsed for a month.
    Also! Followed up on something that I read in the Wikipedia article -in the score, the first voice is labeled as “mouse” and the second is labeled as “wolf.” I think Frank Loesser might also have been taking a jab at the submissive/dominant relationship, even though the lyrics that he wrote inherently play it up.

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