By Sabrina Almeida
A couple of weeks ago “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, a popular Christmas song, was taken off the air by several radio stations in Canada and south of the border. The culprit was the out-of-control #MeToo movement. Apparently, its lyrics allude to a man pressurizing his girl-friend to stay the night against her will and is therefore extremely offensive to us females. If you still haven’t clued in to the problem with the song—it was seen as manipulative and indicative of sexual assault.
However common sense prevailed and the peppy holiday classic, which is one of my favourites, is back on ‘some’ airwaves. Thanks to a majority of their listeners who were upset with the decision to ban it and gave the song a thumbs up.
While the MeToo movement has given women a powerful platform to speak out against sexual harassment and assault in society, it now risks being overused. Painting everything with a gender-abuse brush, so to speak, as in the case of this tune and other daily interactions. A closer listen to the lyrics will reveal that the woman is quite flirtatious in her tone and doesn’t seem to be distressed by what the man is suggesting. But that’s our prerogative isn’t it. To tantalize and then withdraw…
And while we are on the subject of offensive lyrics, “Partition” by Beyoncé takes the top spot in my book. How do we justify this one… by saying it is consensual because it was sung by a woman perhaps?
Viewed through a skewed gender lens many pop songs, James Bond films and Bollywood movies of the 70s and 80s might be considered misogynistic.
So, what’s next on our attack list… Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”? Afterall, it suggests that giving a girl expensive gifts can win you favours!!!
As we discussed the offending Christmas song at a friend’s house last weekend and closely listened to some old favourites in the light of the issue, we realized that the lyrics of many could be deemed controversial. Should we just obliterate all the so-called offensive films and songs then?
One big fallout of the MeToo movement is an increasingly suspicious and litigious culture. Male bosses fear one-on-one sessions with their female staff and vice-versa. Virtually any feedback about performance can be misconstrued and become a career-ending move. Any female employee denied a promotion can cite gender bias. Many feel this could have the opposite effect with women being considered liabilities that should not be hired rather than promote them.
Viewed as victims, women are now a ‘protected’ gender. As a result, any interaction with men can lead to allegations of misconduct. I was privy to one unsavoury situation at the airport. A male traveller was trying to locate his lost baggage. Having been in transit for more than 24 hours, he was irritated at the run-around the staff at the service desk were giving him. As he tried to make his case, a male staffer objected to his slightly-raised voice while addressing his ‘female’ colleague. The poor man was speechless and backed down immediately. I’d never heard anything so absurd as there was no evidence of sexism in his tone.
Rather than trivialize #MeToo with irrational outbursts and a total censorship of men, its time to focus on other aspects of misogyny like the stereotypical images of beauty fed to us in commercials and fashion shows.
Take Victoria Secret for instance which has been reluctant to include plus sized or transgender models among its angels. Heidi Zak, co-founder of a lingerie start-up ThirdLove, wrote a thought-provoking open letter to the company about their philosophy of marketing to men and selling male fantasy to women. Surely this is more deserving of our ire than old songs!
Another unintended consequence is the polarisation of women. Those like me who don’t subscribe to the witch hunt are seen as traitors. While #MeToo has given victims a voice, we need to separate harmless flirting from sexual harassment and assault. And we must refrain from coercing men into subservience. With men’s careers and personal lives being destroyed by accusations alone, I worry for my husband and sons.
While there is no ambiguity for men like Weinstein, there is a lot of potential for misunderstanding in other situations. A compliment or joke is not necessarily grounds for a lawsuit.
And now we are attacking songs written decades ago.
Men have always accused women of overreacting and we seem to be fueling that stereotype with these senseless actions. Is this really making us equal? -CINEWS