I had an encounter this morning where someone had argued that Baby, It's Cold Outside was contained dangerous messages in it. I countered with my argument that the assertion was ridiculous and further counter-productive to the idea of feminism.
The person sharing his perspective was younger, and I would surmise that many of my younger friends would share a similar opinion to his. I don't want to point the finger at "the younger generation," but I do now appreciate things said to me that I dismissed when I was that "younger generation."
I recall being told that there was more to the world than my perspective, and there was more to history than what I understood. Over a few decades, I've come to admit that what I understood to be true in my twenties was viewed through a very narrow lens, even though I would not or perhaps could not admit it at the time. It did not change the truth of things on which I held beliefs. Sometimes, as my lens widened those beliefs became stronger as I learned more and more perspective on a topic which reinforced my initial understanding was close to the truth. Through greater understanding and different perspectives, those beliefs not only strengthened but also gain greater compassion and more reasoning for why the truth really was the truth. However, there were many other beliefs which had to change as my understanding grew. I learned that some of my premises were flawed. Sometimes I misunderstood the context and intent of certain factors.
Going to college helped. One of the purposes for higher education is to examine different ideas, to expand one's perspective, and to subject oneself to concepts that are contrary to personal ideology - and to do so knowing one doesn't have to agree to understand. However, much of college was learning how to learn while the real application doesn't really happen until leaving campus.
However, I cringe as I see what is happening today on college campuses. Desegregation mandates and the march at Berkeley for free speech has been all but reversed with safe spaces and speech regulations that are being enforced. If inclusion isn't perfect than it evil and must be banned - that's the philosophy promoted today. Intent, common understanding have all taken a backseat to how any single person might infer what was said.
Much of the very needed sexual harassment enforcement has spun into this unintended result. Those policies and laws were built around the idea of not what was said but rather what was heard. In the area of innuendo and double entendre is such a part of sexual harassment that things had to be ruled on the side of caution to change behavior. And let's be clear, that behavior was rampant, heinous, disrespectful and needed to change. However, in putting this method in place, how someone hears something rather than what was said or intended created a change in our culture.
Now, returning to "the younger generation" part from earlier. This group of people have grown up in a world where how someone hears something is the rule. They have no other perspective, as do some of us who are a bit older do. As I was in my twenties, and without context of history before me, I held strongly in my ideas and distrusted those old-foggies. The irony thrust upon me in today's world is not only interesting but probably a deserved penance.
Thus, in the light of my own experience and now paying for the sins of "younger me," I now share some observations of our modern culture. Yes, I'm now that mistrusted old guy, but let's consider a few things. I'll use he song as an example.
Baby, It's Cold Outside has been pulled from airplay based on the idea that the male character in the song is actually a rapist, trying to ply the girl into staying with at least alcohol. Accusers have stated that the lyrics explicitly state that he has slipped something into her drink. And if that's all you know, that does sound pretty bad. However, evidence for the accusation centers upon when the female singer questions "Say what's in this drink?" Well, for seventy some years, everyone knew that alcohol would have been the answer and due to the satire it might not even have been that.
I've seen this song performed at dance competitions by children under seven. I've been part of numerous discussions about the age-appropriateness of it, what lines should be edited out, should children so young perform it at all. About this song specifically, I have had a lot perspective. As to this line, whether it actually implies alcohol or whether she is kidding and flirting back has been debated several times, but always in the context of whether alcohol and flirtation is appropriate for seven-year olds. Never has the discussion turned to whether he is a rapist, whether he has "roofied" her drink. This idea has only come to light out recently by people who fail to understand the context.
Furthermore, I thought it was important to point out that from a feminist standpoint, this particular song actually made headway. While it's light and humorous with innuendo, it does point out that in its time women really were not free to make choices unpopular in society. However, at this song end of the song, she decides to stay with him - whether that is sexual or just spending more time. The point is the woman defies the culture that tells her what to do. The man didn't ply her. She chose. And isn't that what feminism is all about? This should be hailed as a landmark moment for women, not revised and repainted as if she is some sort of victim and all those with a penis are vile...which is close to what modern feminism has become.
But let's look at one more interesting hypocrisy: the messages found to be acceptable versus the sensationalized inference made for Baby, It's Cold Outside. I have pointed to Blurred Lines which some old-foggies thought was unacceptable because it is about a guy trying to convince a "good girl" to act bad and be with him. Those arguing to remove this song told the old people that they were out of touch. There are plenty of examples in the playlists of people wanting to yank this song from the airwaves which have messages, lyrics and stories far worse than this 1940s song.
And then there is porn. Seriously, most actresses in the industry are not there because of "Girl Power" and rarely their choice after a few scenes. I know personally someone who cannot leave the industry for fear she would be found dead if she tried. And the plot of most porn is male fantasy where there is no consent and the impression is that she just gives it up. Could there be a more dangerous message? And yet porn is considered normal, mainstream and harmless.
This is the culture in which we live. Advocates find rapists and bigots wherever they look, regardless of evidence; it is "my truth" and nothing else matters. Bowling is racist because of the white pins with red necks...that used to be obvious sarcasm, but today we live in a world where people will believe it and run with it. If it supports "my truth" it's good and evidence, but if it does not, then it's veil and heinous. And the same message does not matter if its enjoyable and something the advocate wants. Far worse messages are overlooked, even embraced, while the truth of Charlie Brown attempting to help ease racial tensions of the 1960s is fully overlooked so support a false cry of racism.
To end, I will close with a quote from a person I strongly shunned in my "younger years" but now have appreciation for many of his points, even though I don't agree with all of them. "Natural selection will not remove ignorance from future generations."