Mary Kate Miller
December 01, 2016 5:11 pm
MGM

Christmas music is the best. It’s fun! It’s catchy! Even when the message is deeply troublesome. This has never been more true than with the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” That song has been long overdue for retirement. That was, until musicians, Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski updated the song lyrics to emphasize consent.

The revamped lyrics come at an especially appropriate time. 2016 has been a rough year for most. John Oliver bid it farewell with epic pyrotechnics, dubbing it a “trash fire of a year.” It was a cathartic moment to be sure, but to say that 2016 was terrible through-and-through oversimplifies things. This year was complicated, at times contradictory, and ultimately problematic, so it was pretty much an anti-hero, like Walter White or Rebecca Bunch from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

There was good. Joe Biden stated his commitment to ending sexual assault on college campuses. Bill Cosby was finally being held accountable for his detestable treatment of women.

Then came the bad news. Donald J. Trump infamously bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.”  Even worse, he was elected President of the United States in spite of these remarks, which amongst other concerns, doesn’t bode well for Joe Biden’s campus consent pledge.

As we bid 2016 adieu, it would be easy to see the negative. The holidays give us time to reflect, something to celebrate after a particularly awful year, but they bring their own challenges — specifically, the vast majority of our holiday songs come from a Rat Pack era.

That’s why Liza and Lemanski’s updated, “It’s Cold Outside” is so delightfully refreshing. For every time the woman expresses her need to go home, the man replies with a varied, equally respectful response.

“I’ve got to get home,” the song opens, and much of the woman’s part is similar for this song. “Baby, I’m fine with that,” he croons in response.

For a long time, there has been a pernicious myth that active and ongoing consent is not sexy, that it will break the mood, that checking in “ruins the fun,” so to speak. It is so categorically untrue. I mean, if you’re getting down, it’s pretty hot to know that the other person is into it.

On the first listen, this song is refreshing after a really bad month. On the second listen, it gives me hope that maybe we can, actually have nice things after all. Maybe, despite all the obstacles that are mounting against us, we will see change after all.

Survivors are criticized for speaking out in their communities when they “should have gone to the police.” The trouble with this is that it is so much harder to prove something in a court of law than it is to tell a friend. It’s also exhausting and traumatic.

Sometimes, we need something funny — which this song most certainly is — to open our eyes to the most painful truths. There’s a reason that Hannibal Burress’ standup was the catalyst for finally holding Bill Cosby accountable for the allegations that had followed him for decades. It’s easier to listen if you’re already laughing.

Here’s to hoping that the revamped “It’s Cold Outside” becomes a perennial holiday classic.

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