In the #Metoo Era, the Thrill of the Chase Is Gone

This article was originally published at The Washington Examiner.

It appears the lyrics to the holiday hit song, ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ which tell a story about a man who tries to persuade his date not to risk the journey home in bad weather but to stay with him instead and have one more drink, are so upsetting that a radio station in Ohio has pulled the song from its Christmas lineup.

“The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended. But in a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place,” says Glenn Anderson, a morning host at the Star 102 station.

“It wasn’t really our decision,” another host added. “It’s the decision of our listeners.”

And yet, a poll on the station’s Facebook page showed a majority of respondents didn’t want the song banned—suggesting the radio station, not its listeners, were the ones offended.

There is nothing wrong with the song ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside.’ It beautifully encapsulates the natural male-female dynamic we find in all great love stories, where the man pursues the woman, and the woman enjoys being pursued and exercises her power to say yes or to say no. But in modern-day America, male aggression in any form is verboten. Thus, the thrill of the chase is gone.

I remember my mother telling me when I was growing up that boys will try and “wear you down.” They will say anything to get some “action” from a girl, she said, and it’s her job to say no. This was perfectly reasonable advice, but today it would be viewed as an example of female oppression. Of course, it is anything but: the old standards gave women the advantage.

“Traditional mores set the default for premarital sex at “no,” at least for females,” writes Heather MacDonald in “Policing Sexual Desire. “This default recognized the different sexual drives of males and females and the difficulties of bargaining with the male libido. The default “no” to premarital sex meant that a female did not have to negotiate the refusal with every opportuning male; it was simply assumed. She could, of course, cast aside the default assumption; that was her power and prerogative. But she did not have to provide reasons for shutting down a sexual advance.”

And that is precisely the madness young women live with today. One year ago this month New York Times’ gender editor Jessica Bennett wrote an article entitled “When Saying ‘Yes’ Is Easier Than Saying ‘No.’” In it, she blames “dangerously outdated gender norms” for causing her and her contemporaries to feel awkward and embarrassed when turning men down for sex.

What a fascinating spin on reality! It’s 21st-century gender norms, not traditional gender norms, that have landed women in such an uncomfortable place. It is impossible to imagine any woman prior to 2000 claiming it’s “easier” to just have sex with a man than it is to say no to him. While certainly there are men, like the one in the song, who don’t like to take no for answer. But it was nevertheless presumed that women had the final say.

Only in an era in which sex roles have become hopelessly blurred, when neither men nor women know who’s supposed to do what, could this sexual dynamic be obliterated. If ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ does anything, it helps explain what romance looks like. It’s a great model for the younger generation to learn what it means for a woman to be wooed by a man.

What a shame they’ll ever know what it feels like.

Suzanne Venker

Suzanne is an author, a coach, and a podcast host committed to helping women let go of cultural beliefs that undermine their happiness in life and in love.