Friday, December 21, 2012

The way things were

I've been listening pretty exclusively to Christmas tunes on the radio recently. Intentionally, as I browsed the stations until I found the one playing non-stop Christmas music. And that's difficult to do in my car, because my little LED display thing on my radio is totally broken and doesn't display what station I'm on. So I knew the station I was looking for, but I had no reference except for the stations I already had on preset, and then I just had to sort of seek until I found the Christmas one.

If you want your head to hurt, I suggest going to check out the YouTube comment arguments going on over Baby It's Cold Outside. Well, in general if you want your head to hurt I suggest going to YouTube and reading the comments. I think that's the actual outcome of throwing a bunch of monkeys into a room with typewriters. Perhaps they'll eventually get to Shakespeare, but in the meantime they'll waste a bunch of time having arguments on the internet.

The argument on this particular song boils down to whether it is date rape or not (hint: it totally is), with the "omg guyz this is totally not about rape" side picking the ever popular justification that, "that's just the way things were back then." As in, the woman in the song saying "no" multiple times and the man in the song pretty much ignoring it isn't a bad thing, because...c'mon...times were different then. Can't everyone just fucking relax and enjoy a nice holiday tune without having to make us hurt our already overwhelmed little brains with the idea of a possibly darker subtext?

The issue I have with historical white-washing like this is that it excuses behavior. It's taking something that's really not okay and just sort of winking at it like, "oh, you sillypants."

 It's the same idea of "boys will be boys" bullshit. (Well, despite the gender normativity of that statement alone, but that's a rant for another entry.) Just because a certain behavior or mindset existed in the past doesn't make it right, or doesn't mean we can't look back on it now and recognize that it was a shitty way to act.

I'm not getting militant about it and demanding that radio stations never play Baby It's Cold Outside ever again. I'm not starting a letter writing campaign or asking for a public apology. The song exists, the mindset exists/existed, end of story. I put both tenses of the verb, because I'm not fucking naive enough to think that they're aren't still guys out there who think it's okay to completely ignore a woman when she says she's not interested. I've had it happen enough times both to myself and to friends, as well as have sat in the same room sometimes with men having sincere conversations about how "no" is really just a placeholder word until you can get a woman to stop being coy and realize she actually means "yes." I've also read enough bullshit women's advice columns that tell women this exact same thing. It's perpetuated among women that they're supposed to play hard-to-get and keep themselves "pure" or some such bullshit, and it's perpetuated among men that it's their fucking imperative or something to overcome these objections. When the mindset still exists out there, it's not helpful to just completely ignore the subtext of a song that plays into it.

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