'Baby, It's Cold Outside' spurs debate if song is sexist, demeaning

The classic hit "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is being scrutinized in light of the #MeToo movement. The decades-old Christmas song is being frozen out by radio stations who say the lyrics are offensive to women.

The tune has become a holiday staple. But this season, a few radio stations are giving the Christmas classic the cold shoulder. WDOK in Cleveland banned the melody that's been sung by artists like Lady Gaga from their airwaves because station managers say the lyrics are inappropriate toward women.

The melody recounts the tale of a man coaxing a woman to stay with him despite her objections.

"She clearly says that she doesn't want to come in, and he shames her," says radio listener Amanda Blue who feels the song is coercive. "He's very perseverant, and it makes me very uncomfortable."

Blue questions lines like, "I simply must go / The answer is no," and, "Say what's in this drink?"

"It's not even a fair interpretation if you actually read the lyrics accurately," says Karen North, a communications professor and social media expert at USC Annenberg. She's also the great-niece of the man who produced songwriter Frank Loesser's movies.

"People to this day still will drink a cocktail and sort of have the like, 'Wow, what's in this drink?' It's stronger than I thought," North added. "It's an expression."

Some agree with North saying the controversy is unnecessary. "If you want to beat a horse, you'll find a stick," said radio listener Ish Moran. "So for me, it's overblown."

"I'm not sure that erasing history is beneficial," said Amanda Blue, who feels this is a teachable moment, "but more so educating our kids about why the song is not really responsible anymore."

Karen North, though, points to the time period of the 1940s, where women had only recently been granted the right to vote. "Playing hard to get is different than #MeToo sexual harassment," North stressed. "But you have to think of this on some level as empowering women at the time."

Other radio stations say they quietly pulled the song from their playlists years ago, noting there are plenty of other great Christmas songs to play.

The Cleveland station that ignited the controversy this season, WDOK, says a poll on its website shows listeners support the ban, while a poll on its Facebook page shows people want them to bring the song back.