Baby, It’s Still Cold Outside

With the blizzard in New Jersey stranding me in my home, today seemed like the perfect day to do a post on the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and guilty pleasures in general. I think I have listened to the Glee version of this song (and watched the clip from the episode) at least 60 times since the episode premiered. For the first week or so, most of my listening was done in secret, in my dorm room; even though we were playing holiday music at work I just didn’t think this song was appropriate for the Women’s Center due to its (for lack of a better word) rape-y themes. Eventually I decided I needed to do a blog post about the song and ask myself: how could I reconcile loving a song SO MUCH when it had such a creepy undertone?

I started researching the blog post and things went in a totally different direction, once I found this post from Persephone Magazine:

“The song sets up a story where the woman has dropped by her beau’s house on a cold winter night. They talk in the first verse about how long she’s going to stay. She has “˜another drink’ and stays longer, and then later in the evening it’s implied that she’s going to sleep over.

If we look at the text of the song, the woman gives plenty of indication that she wants to stay the night. At the time period the song was written (1944), “˜good girls,’ especially young, unmarried girls, did not spend the night at a man’s house unsupervised. The tension in the song comes from her own desire to stay and society’s expectations that she’ll go. We see this in the organization of the song ““ from stopping by for a visit, to deciding to push the line by staying longer, to wanting to spend the entire night, which is really pushing the bounds of acceptability. Her beau in his repeated refrain, “˜Baby, it’s cold outside’ is offering her the excuses she needs to stay without guilt.

Let’s look at the lines. As she’s talking about leaving, she never says she doesn’t want to stay. Her words are all based around other people’s expectations of her ““ her mother will worry, her father will be pacing the floor, the neighbors will talk, her sister will be suspicious of her excuses and her brother will be furious, and my favorite line that I think is incredibly revealing, ‘My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious.’ Vicious about what? Sex. Unmarried, non-good girl having, sex.


The song, which is a back and forth, closes with the two voices in harmony. This is important ““ they’ve come together. They’re happy. They’re in agreement. The music has a wonderfully dramatic upswell and ends on a high note ““ both literally and figuratively.”

So now I’m not sure how I feel. On one hand, I am glad for this explanation. I liked it so much that I shared it with pretty much everyone at work, and played the song quite a few times as part of our holiday relaxation atmosphere. Honestly, I want to just embrace it so I can listen to the song (over and over) without guilt, and just move on with my life.

On the other hand, even if I can totally rationalize away any creep-factor inherent in this song, I am still disturbed by the fact that, even if I didn’t have this explanation, I would be listening to the song.

Which brings me to Glee, and the idea of guilty pleasures in general. Try as I might I just can’t rationalize Glee away anymore; with each episode the show seems to get more and more offensive and yet, I still love it. Why? I have no idea.

In a way I feel like my relationship with Glee mirrors “Baby It’s Cold Outside“: I protest because Mr. Shuester gets creepier each week, the show’s treatment of its not-conventionally-beautiful female characters sucks more and more each week (the pity-kiss between Shue and Bieste was an all time low), the show’s treatment of disability issues and racism is ridiculously hackneyed and bad”¦ and so on and so forth.

Yet, I continue to make excuses for the show. But, maybe they’re just overblowing the stereotypes to make a point? But maybe the way they handled the bullying situation with Kurt is a sign that things will get better”¦ even though that wasn’t very well done either. But Coach Bieste is such an awesome character, maybe they will start treating her right next episode! But at least they have a more diverse cast than most shows. But baby, it’s cold outside.

I know I should stop watching but I just don’t want to... and here I am. I’ve written critiques of Glee; so have many bloggers. I discuss it often with my feminist friends. I hate it so much, but I also love it so much. So, what now? I have no clue.

Image of a snow covered city street on a gray, cloudy day.

Let me know what you think in the comments! What are your guilty pleasures? How do you know when its time to just quit something? Is there anything redeeming about Glee? Let’s talk!


Editor’s Note – We found Jill when she linked to us at her blog Imagine Today.  You can find this post here, but read her whole blog, it’s awesome.

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