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Gavin de Becker

Baby It’s Cold Out-WTF?!

I love Christmas music. I’m that person who will listen to Christmas music in July just because I like it. Who says it has to be the holiday season to enjoy holiday music?

Lately, it seems like every time I turn on the all-Christmas radio station, they’re playing “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Musically speaking, this is a beautiful duet – I love the back-and-forth and the layering of the voices. But have you actually listened to the lyrics? They exemplify what’s wrong with how boys and girls are socialized – he refuses to accept when she rebuffs his advances and she’s worried about being slut shamed by her family and community. Here’s what goes through my head every time I hear it.
(M = male; F = female; B = both; my thoughts in italics)

Winter Wonderland by Kristina_Servant from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Winter Wonderland by Kristina_Servant from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

(F) I really can’t stay
(M) Baby it’s cold outside
(F) I’ve got to go away
(M) Baby it’s cold outside
Dude, she said she was leaving.
(F) This evening has been
(M) Been hoping that you’d drop in
(F) So very nice
(M) I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice
Hey! Don’t touch her without consent!

(F) My mother will start to worry
(M) Beautiful, what’s your hurry?
(F) Father will be pacing the floor
(M) Listen to the fireplace roar
(F) So really I’d better scurry
Bah! Be bold woman!
(M) Beautiful, please don’t hurry
(F) Maybe just a half a drink more
Arg! Don’t do that!
(M) Put some records on while I pour
You’re a manipulative jerk.

(F) The neighbors might think
Who gives a f*ck what they think?
(M) Baby, it’s bad out there
And why are you calling her “Baby?”
That’s so belittling the way you use it. She has a name, you know.
(F) Say, what’s in this drink?
Did you give her roofies or something?
(M) No cabs to be had out there
Get an Uber.
(F) I wish I knew how
(M) Your eyes are like starlight now
(F) To break this spell
(M) I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell
Ugh you’re so creepy.

Christmas Ornament by Tobyotter from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Christmas Ornament by Tobyotter from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

(F) I ought to say no, no, no
Say it or don’t. It’s ok to enjoy intimacy.
(M) Mind if I move in closer?
Thanks for asking…finally.
(F) At least I’m gonna say that I tried
Where’s your integrity? Say what you mean, mean what you say.
(M) What’s the sense in hurting my pride?
Screw his feelings if he doesn’t respect you boundaries.
(F) I really can’t stay
Then leave!
(M) Baby don’t hold out
Eww!
(B) Ah, but it’s cold outside

(F) I’ve got to get home
Walk out the door!
(M) Oh, baby, you’ll freeze out there
(F) Say, lend me your coat
(M) It’s up to your knees out there
(F) You’ve really been grand
No he hasn’t! He’s being a dick!
(M) Thrill when you touch my hand
(F) Why don’t you see
(M) How can you do this thing to me?
It’s not all about you!

(F) There’s bound to be talk tomorrow
Who cares?
(M) Think of my lifelong sorrow
Really? Since when do your feelings trump hers?
(F) At least there will be plenty implied
(M) If you caught pneumonia and died
And died – Really??
(F) I really can’t stay
Seriously – You. Door. Go!
(M) Get over that hold out
Ew ew eww! Lady – run away from this guy!
(B) Ah, but it’s cold outside
(B) Oh, baby, it’s cold outside
(B) Oh, baby, it’s cold outside

Whenever I hear this song, I think of a lesson from security expert Gavin de Becker: A person who doesn’t hear “no” is trying to control you. Perhaps it was sweet song when it was written, reflective of the times, but I still think it’s an indication of a misogynistic culture.

I want to re-write this conversation in a way that works. I can see it going one of two ways:

(F) I should get going.
(M) What’s your hurry, Baby?
(F) I’m tired. I want to go home.
(M) It’s so cold out there.
(F) Of course it is. It’s December. I’ll be fine.
(M) One more drink . . .
(F) No. Quit being a jerk. I’m leaving.

(F) I should get going.
(M) I had fun tonight. You’re welcome to stay.
(F) Thank you. I’d like that. Let me text my family so they’ll know not to expect me until tomorrow.

I Was Cyberbullied – Part 1 of 4

Cyberbullying sucks. I know because I’ve been through it.

I’m sharing my story to show that it can happen to anyone, at any age, and that there are things you can do to combat it.

My story begins in February 2010, the spring semester of my second year of law school at Arizona State University. I had a full load of classes and an internship at a large Phoenix law firm. I was also an executive officer on multiple student clubs at the law school. It was because of the connections I made in a leadership position that lead to me receiving an invitation to attend the HRC gala. The invite was written and sent to me in an email that was to my personal email account, not the club’s email address.

One of the other execs, another law student, did not receive such an invitation. She became my bully.

For the following three months, I dreaded seeing the notification that I had new email in my inbox.  Every email from her was filled with anger and disrespect. She called me dishonest, unethical, phony, dumb, seedy, a poor leader, and made discriminatory statements about my sexual orientation.

From the beginning, I sensed this could be a heated situation and may not end well. I elicited the help of four of my friends:

  • Michael: former assistant dean of the law school who has a wealth of knowledge regarding law students and the ASU system,
  • Jeff: my friend who has experience with handling public criticism,
  • Andrea: was the president of an LGBT student group at Oregon State University when I was a student there, and
  • Julia: my classmate who is a former national speech champion. She is the most articulate person I know, and she’s brilliant at handling difficult people.

Project 365: Day 57 by Cara Photography

Every time I got an email from my bully, I forwarded it to these four. After her first email, I never sent a response without giving myself several hours to let my emotional response subside and to formulate the best response based on the goal of getting the harassment to end.

My bully’s impulsiveness scared me. She reacted to every email with such anger. She responded without taking any time to think through her response. I was pretty sure that she wouldn’t shift from being verbally impulsive to physically impulsive, but I wasn’t completely convinced.

After one particularly cruel email that I forwarded to my support team, I got a one line email response from Michael: “Ruth, you need to stay away from this person.” Michael has counseled thousands of law students in his career. A warning like that from him carried significant weight for me.

I reached out to Gavin de Becker and Associates, a firm that assesses threats in personal relationships and the workplace. De Becker is the author of the bestselling book, The Gift of Fear, a book I recommend everyone read to identify and respond to people who threaten your safety. I explained the situation to an associate, and he responded that I likely had cause for concern.

I was 30 years old, and for the first time in my life, I was afraid to go to school.

Read more about my experience with cyberbullying and how I fought back in Part 2 of I Was Cyberbullied.

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