"Baby It's Cold Outside" Rewritten By Lydia Liza & Josiah Lemanski Transforms The Holiday Song Into A Consent Anthem
If you listen closely to the lyrics of "Baby It's Cold Outside," an old song frequently played around the holidays, you'll notice something unsettling: It's kind of rapey. It's about a man who won't take a woman's "no" for an answer. Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski's "Baby It's Cold Outside" rewrite, however, tells a very different story — one of someone who cares about his love interest's consent. And I am so, so grateful for it.
In the original song, written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, a woman sings, "I ought to say, no, no, no sir," while a man responds, "Mind if I move in closer?" and "What's the sense in hurtin' my pride?" She also asks him, "Say what's in this drink?" — to which he just responds, "No cabs to be had out there." It's... weird. Some may call the song a product of its time, but even so, it still frequently raises red flags on the subject of consent: The man's lines sound an awful lot like he's disregarding the woman's boundaries in favor of his own desires.
In Liza and Lemanski's version, on the other hand, the male voice responds to the female one with lines like, "Baby, I'm fine with that" and "You reserve the right to say no." He also clarifies that the only thing in her drink is "Pomegranate La Croix." She leaves when she wants to, and in an adorable twist, they agree to meet the next day at the Cheesecake Factory. The song will soon be recorded and released on Rock the Cause Inc. 501c3, and the proceeds will go toward women's rights and civil rights organizations.
"'Baby It’s Cold Outside' is such a huge staple of our culture," Liza tells Bustle over email. However, she says, "we thought there were too many questions — does she stay? Doesn’t really sound like she enjoys this... what is in her drink? We felt the outdated rhetoric needed to be changed."
"I think this reflects a need for conversation," agrees Lemanski, who came up with the idea to rewrite the lyrics. "Recent events in the past year have brought this issue up, and it hasn't been comfortable. I think this shows that maybe we are ready to talk about difficult things more openly and hopefully take responsibility for what’s going on."
Lydia Liza & Josiah Lemanski
Both of them hope that by singing about consent, they'll get more people talking about it. Liza said she'd like to see more parents teach their daughters and sons about consent, and she hopes the song and related discussions could even inspire people to donate their money or time to a shelter or center that helps sexual assault victims.
The song is also aiming to combat the way our culture romanticizes men who won't take "no" for an answer and normalizes sexual coercion. "This song already has sparked a lot of conversation about the fine line between flirty and aggressive, which is a good conversation, to learn to respect people's boundaries," Lemanski says. "I personally am in the belief that men specifically have a responsibility to step up and advocate for change. I would say that is our first step."