#MeToo Meets the Cold Outside

It seems to make little or no difference where on the sexual-harassment continuum bad behavior falls.To Kirsten Gillibrand, fellow senator Al Franken’s sophomoric joking was as egregious as any act committed by the career criminal currently occupying the White House. Her unrelenting demand that Franken resign resulted in the loss of an intelligent legislator who came to hearings well-prepared and knowledgeable. (Remember his questioning of Attorney General appointee Jeff Sessions?)

Christmas 2018: radio stations around the country have removed the perennial winter song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from their holiday playlists. #MeToo proponents have labeled it the “date-rape song,” as the lecherous guy tries to convince his lady visitor to stay with him so he can continue with his despicable intents.

I first heard the song in the early sixties. My father brought home an LP titled Beauty and the Beard by New Orleans trumpet-player Al Hirt. The album featured Hirt singing duets – no holiday songs– with Ann-Margret, including “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” (Ann-Margret reprised her performance thirty-eight years later with Brian Setzer on his Boogie Woogie Christmas album.)

Songwriter Frank Loesser won an Academy award in 1949 for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” featured in the movie Neptune’s Daughter. In the film Ricardo Montalban appeals to Esther Williams to stay with him, arguing that the weather is too snowy for her to leave. What seems ironic in today’s milieu, the song was a replacement for the tune “I’d Love to Get You (On a Slow Boat to China).” MGM censors interpreted “get” as “have,” meaning sex and would not allow it.

Ms. Williams appears to be able to make her own arguments and reach her own decision. While coy, the woman is in control here.

The song has been recorded by dozens of artists: Ray Charles & Betty Carter, Steve Lawrence & Edie Gorme, Bette Midler & James Caan, Lou Rawls & Dianne Reeves, Suzy Bogguss & Delbert McClinton, Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, LadyGaga & Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, Willie Nelson & Norah Jones… well, you get the idea. (Later versions of the song found various replacements for the line, “Well, maybe just a cigarette more.”)

If you want to be outraged, try this 1962 recording, devoid of innuendo – that  could be titled “Ode to Harvey Weinstein,” – by Kay Martin & Her Bodyguards, from the album I Know What He Wants For Christmas… But I Don’t Know How to Wrap It! 

Rosie the Librarian

With all the news about #MeToo and Mr. Weinstein and a certain pussy grabber, let’s return to Depression-era Seattle. Drastic funding cuts to the Seattle Public Library in 1932 resulted in fewer hours and services and pay cuts for employees. Staff was also reduced. The Library Board of Trustees came up with an equitable way to implement employee terminations:

It shall be the policy of the Seattle Library Board not to employ a married woman whose husband is able to provide her a living. Any library employee marrying a husband able to provide a reasonable income will be required to tender her resignation.

Ten years later, World War II caused the Board to loosen its restrictions and allow the hiring of a married woman… if her husband was serving in the military.

Mark Twain #MeToo

Stanford White

Harry Kendall Thaw shot and killed Stanford White while the famed architect watched a play on the rooftop of Madison Square Garden. The year was 1906. The building was one designed by White, who was responsible for the Washington Square Arch, the Metropolitan Club and numerous other landmark buildings. The Astors and Vanderbilts lived in mansions designed by White. He also had a reputation as a seducer of young women.

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