Gender Reveal Parties have become as commonplace as Baby Showers, which is unfortunate and potentially damaging.
It is a familiar tale for anybody expecting a child: the excitement and the continuous questions about the sex of your baby. The questions are often innocent enough, yet their undertones are unsettling.
Throughout both of my pregnancies I knew that many people were simply trying to engage in conversation by asking the sex of my baby. I always wondered, though, why it mattered so much. I mean, with my first, I found out at the 20-week scan that I had a baby boy on the way. That news made many squeal with excitement. Would those very people have been equally disappointed if I announced the impending arrival of a baby girl?
Feeding into stereotypes
There seems to be a common misconception that the biological sex of a baby determines their gender and the majority of their personality traits.
I have 2 sons. Does this mean that they’ll opt out of attending theatre and musicals with me? Instead, will we spend our weekends screaming at footy matches? Surely my children aren’t obligated to dress in blue from head to toe.
The was one question I couldn’t quite shake during both pregnancies. Every time someone enquired about my babies’ sex, I always thought to myself, “does it matter?”
Pressure – so much pressure
Not just for the baby, who has no idea that 50-odd people are anxiously standing around wondering what’s going on between its legs. The pressure sets a tone for anyone witnessing a Gender Reveal Party – whether they are attending it or scrolling past photos on Facebook.
Having a party celebrating a baby’s gender takes away the very notion that we own our own gender. Great, a scan noticed the presence of a penis – BOY!
The spreading and normalising of Gender Reveal Parties sends harmful messages that gender is fixed and, while you’re at it, gender is super important (apparently).
Imagine attending a Gender Reveal Party, while you, yourself, are transitioning. How about if you are questioning your gender? Or, perhaps you’re watching your own child question their gender and identity.
There’s the obvious reality that over 10,000 people in Australia identify as transgender. How about we embrace our kids’ genders, instead of trying so desperately to fit them into a definition of what we think they should be.
Kind of… grose?
It is kind of weird and definitely grose to think that dozens of people are sitting – or standing – around celebrating a child’s genitalia. We spend so much time and effort drumming in body safety rules with kids, yet somehow a group of adults fixated on a baby’s private bits is acceptable.
Not to mention, Gender Reveal Parties seem to following the idea that baby’s can only be born with a penis or a vagina. Whereas, in fact, 1 in 2,000 babies born each day, is born with 1 of 2 dozen intersex variations. Those babies (and their bodies) do not completely match the traditional “male” or “female” definitions.
Short-lived and becoming archaic
The tradition reportedly began from a smaller-scale concept by Jenna Karvunidis.
I had written about my party on my blog and a parenting forum in July 2008. It was picked up and an interview with me was published in The Bump magazine and the idea kinda spread from there.
A weird thing came up on Twitter, so I figured I'd share here. Someone remembered it was me who "invented" the gender…
Since then, Jenna has developed “mixed feelings” about the culture she helped create.
It just exploded into crazy after that. Literally – guns firing, forest fires, more emphasis on gender than has ever been necessary for a baby.
In fact, Jenna now asks: “Who cares what gender the baby is?” And I say, Amen to that!
I did at the time because we didn’t live in 2019 and didn’t know what we know now – that assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what’s between their legs.
Jenna also openly reveals how the very child she threw a Gender Reveal Party for does not conform to gender-expectations.
PLOT TWIST, the world’s first gender-reveal party baby is a girl who wears suits!
We’ve all heard the cliche, “I don’t care what it is, as long as it’s healthy”. It is probably about time we all actually acted like that’s what we care about – a healthy, happy child.