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  • Writer's pictureWomEnpowered International

Event Report: "Feminist Navidad!" December Coffee Conversation

WE Int. holds monthly coffee chats over intriguing gender issues. December session was themed "Feminist Navidad!" with our hope to make the holiday season more inclusive and empowering.

“Baby, it is cold outside” = “Baby, I prohibit you showing consent inside”

Written by Darina Obukhova

What do you think when you hear a famous holiday song “Baby, It is cold outside”? Maybe, it serves you a Christmas fantasy of air becoming colder, people becoming warmer and sound of packages being unwrapped louder.

What do I think when I hear “Baby, It is cold outside”? I think it suggests sexual harassment or even date rape. Well, I am not alone – the song, written by Frank Loesser in 1944, has caused a lot of online backlash due to its controversial lyrics with all that phrases like “I simply must go” replied with “The answer is no” as “it is cold outside.” In 2019 John Legend released a modern version of the song with the updated lyrics which he worked on together with Natasha Rothwell, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer. New “Baby, It is cold outside” also features Kelly Clarkson.

WE Int. members gathered at UTokyo Komaba campus on December 2 to discuss the old and new version and to think about the broader concept of feminist values represented in the entertainment such as standup comedy, music and movies. We agreed that while some female parts of the lyrics can still be improved from the feministic standpoint it did a good job showing more time- and human-appropriate idea of consent.

(The left side is the original lyrics and the right John Legend version. Words in brackets are sung by male voice. Can you tell how John Legend changed the lyrics?)

In his interview to Jimmy Fallon, Legend talks about people accusing him of messing with the original song’s lyrics and killing Christmas. In response to that Fallon says “If you like the old version, listen to it and play it loud.” Do not listen to Mr. Fallon, please. Take everything critically, even if it is a holiday song or a joke. We want our path to establish the concept of sexual consent to be as smooth as the road Santa Claus rides his sledge to deliver you Christmas gifts.


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