“I really can't stay - Baby it's cold outside
I've got to go away - Baby it's cold outside
This evening has been - Been hoping that you'd drop in
So very nice - I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice
My mother will start to worry - Beautiful, what's your hurry?
Father will be pacing the floor - Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I'd better scurry - Beautiful, please don't hurry
Maybe just a half a drink more - Put some records on while I pour
The neighbors might think - Baby, it's bad out there
Say, what's in this drink? - No cabs to be had out there
I wish I knew how - Your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell - I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell
I ought to say no, no, no - Mind if I move in closer?
At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride?
I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out
Ah, but it's cold outside
I've got to get home - Oh, baby, you'll freeze out there
Say, lend me your coat - It's up to your knees out there
You've really been grand - Thrill when you touch my hand
Why don't you see - How can you do this thing to me?
There's bound to be talk tomorrow - Think of my life long sorrow
At least there will be plenty implied - If you caught pneumonia and died
I really can't stay - Get over that hold out
Ah, but it's cold outside
Oh, baby, it's cold outside
Oh, baby, it's cold outside”
Innocent Beginning Not So Innocent Ending
It begins innocently enough and then alcohol merges into the mix and the woman’s defenses begin to wear away. Soon, she asks what the beverage contains that may be impairing her judgement. He then doesn’t just offer to take her hat and coat, rather he tells her is going to take it. Then he uses the coercive technique of letting her know that if she declines his erstwhile invitation, it will hurt his feelings and blames her for rejecting him. He seems to have little respect or concern for her desire to leave.
Consider too, the norms of the time in which the song was written, which was 1936. Women were not expected to have sexual desires that equaled those of men, so even if she wanted to stay, it would have been unseemly to say so. The line between yes and no got blurred then and gets blurred now.
How To Say No
Rape culture is rampant and many sexual assaults are perpetrated by those familiar to the woman. “Date/Acquaintance rape describes when an individual is forced by someone he or she knows to participate in unwanted sexual activity.” (Although this article focuses on an interaction between a man and a woman, sexual assault can be perpetrated by either gender toward any gender).
One way to combat this type of behavior is to alter our collective mindset to recognize that not only does ‘no mean no,’ but only an enthusiastic ‘yes means yes’ and any one at any time is free to change his or her mind about physical contact without repercussion. No one owes another sexual intimacy, regardless of the nature of the relationship.
For a revised (and much shorter) rendering of the song, consider an updated version.
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Edie Weinstein