'Baby It's Cold Outside' - Alcohol, Roofies, and Date Rape

What do Bill Cosby, a Norman teenager, and a popular Christmas song have in common? If the allegations are true, all of the above are somehow involved in date rape. At least 19 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting or raping them in a string of alleged incidents stemming back to the 1960s. In many of these cases, Cosby allegedly drugged the woman in some way: offering "herbal pills" for relaxation or to relieve menstrual cramps or giving them a glass of wine or cup of coffee. In these cases, the women say they awoke disoriented and disrobed, having never consented to sexual activity. Here in Oklahoma, a former Norman High School student was arrested and charged with rape after being accused of raping three girls between January and September. Tristen Kole Killman-Hardin, 18, is charged with two counts of first degree rape after allegedly assaulting a 16-year-old girl who accepted a ride home from a party. The girl was highly intoxicated, and according to reports, the boy bragged to a friend about raping the unconscious girl. A cell phone recording purported to be a conversation between the accused teen and his friend seems to indicate that the Killman-Hardin intentionally took advantage of the girl, who was unable to consent to sex. When the friend asks if the girl was "into it at first," a voice alleged to be Killman-Hardin's replies, "She was asleep! I just, like, she was, like, incoherent. Like you could not talk to her at all." So what could the two above-described cases possibly have to do with a holiday song? Some say the seasonal classic "Baby It's Cold Outside" isn't about playful banter, but rather a song trivializing date rape. If you take a look at the lyrics to "Baby It's Cold Outside," the idea isn't so far-fetched. The song was written in the 1940's by Frank Loesser, who dubbed the female role of the duet "Mouse," and the male role "Wolf." Just the designation of the parts as Wolf and Mouse seems to give the song a predatory tone. Next, the lyrics go between a woman's insistence that she needs to leave, and the man's persistent string of arguments attempting to convince her to stay. Those who love the song would argue that the woman actually wants to stay and is looking for reasons--that she wants to be convinced. In that case, maybe this is just a cute song about a man trying to woo a woman into staying with him, using the weather as a ruse. But a key issue in the song is when the girl finally agrees to "Maybe just a half a drink more." Withing just a few lines, she asks, "Say, what's in this drink?" Does that question indicate that Wolf slipped a roofie in Mouse's drink, a la Bill Cosby, or that he's mixing them strong in order to get little Mouse too drunk to refuse? [caption id="attachment_4386" align="aligncenter" width="378"]"Say, what's in this drink?" "Say, what's in this drink?"[/caption] Under Oklahoma law, it wouldn't matter whether Wolf actually drugged a drink or plied Mouse with alcohol until she was too intoxicated to resist. State law defines first degree rape in 21 O.S. § 1114, and included in this definition are acts of sexual intercourse accomplished through a victim's intoxication or unconsciousness:

Rape in the first degree shall include: . . .

3. rape accomplished where the victim is intoxicated by a narcotic or anesthetic agent, administered by or with the privity of the accused as a means of forcing the victim to submit; or

4. rape accomplished where the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act and this fact is known to the accused;

Whether you think of the song as a cute, flirty little ditty or a sinister look at how pop culture glosses over rape, it is important to be aware of the significance of the role of alcohol and drugs in date rape. If a person is too intoxicated to verbally withhold consent, that doesn't mean that consent is implicit. We've been taught for decades that "No Means No," --and in fact, in "Baby It's Cold Outside," Mouse clearly does state, "The answer is no." However, it is important that men and boys understand that the absence of a verbal "no" is not a green light to "yes."
Image Credit: Modified from image by Pat (Cletch) Williams

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