Back before hookup culture was a thing, responsible grownups learned and enjoyed the steps to an ancient dance. The dance even had a name: Seduction. Or as I wrote four years ago, when this first became a fake issue: "It's a cleverly told musical version of the age-old dance of seduction, where both dancers know exactly what they're doing every step of the way to an almost predetermined (and happy!) ending."Yes, well, when both people understood that they were in fact participating in that dance. It sometimes gets more complicated, as readers of Pride and Prejudice or She Stoops to Conquer understand.
The unwritten steps of seduction allow a gentleman to pursue without being a cad or a rapist. And just as importantly, there are all those steps and pauses for the woman to make the man work his charms hard enough, to make sure he’s worthy of her. But like any dance, the steps must be learned — and at some time in the last 20 years or so, society stopped teaching them.Interestingly, a self-styled feminist weighs in, and her message might be that the steps had to go, for a purpose.
What we are hearing is a woman’s internal struggle, as she determines that she is strong enough to face the public ridicule that will follow when she chooses to defy social norms.Don't let the reality of that revolution not turning out so well for anybody get in the way of a celebration of transgressivity.
This song describes a woman’s conflict over her desire to do something progressive, while anticipating certain criticism from her family and community if she does so. Fortunately, the song ends on a cheerful note, when she appears to decide to stay over for the night — or at least for a bit longer. It is a decision made for her own personal gratification.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a song ahead of its time — released a full 20 years before the sexual revolution for women — and it celebrates a feminist taking control of her own sexual choices.
At no point does she say, “I don’t want this.” She says, with unraveling conviction, that everyone else will have a problem with this. She goes through the list, starting with mother and father, and decreasing in importance when it comes to her reputation: the neighbors, her sister, her brother and the maiden aunt.Put another way, what we understand today as "slut-shaming" is a dishonor tax, and feminism as this author understands it is a tax cut.
In the 1940s, women condemned to single life because not enough men were returning from battle was considered a major negative consequence of troops dying in World War II. What does this mean for our heroine? Upon reflecting upon the absurdity of caring about her bitter aunt’s opinion, she asks for another cigarette. Good for her.Virginia Slims, making the transition from questionable hidden persuader to vanguard.
As a liberal feminist professor in public health, I should never applaud someone for smoking. But it is worth mentioning that for women in the first half of the 20th century, smoking was frowned upon, not for health-related reasons, but because smoking was a luxury reserved for the men folk.On the one hand, social norms are emergent, and there still is a "guy" culture, is there not?
The women who defied gender stereotypes by smoking faced moralistic scorn. Their character was questioned; they were viewed as “loose” or “fast.” When women opted to smoke, especially in public, they were placing a toe in the men’s world, they were boldly challenging social norms, realizing they would face public scorn, and choosing to light up anyway.
Those norms about the acceptability of women smoking started to change around World War II, and smoking as a feminist statement has waned since. Even so, the sexual slurring that occurs when women engage in gender nonconforming behaviors is something that persists today.
On the other hand, it is hard not to read that "liberal feminist professor" and think, "worldview as one that lacks moral and intellectual maturity."