Opinion: Gender Reveals: A Social Construct?

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons

Gender reveals have quickly been rising up as one of the hottest new trends. Search activity for gender reveal parties started in February 2011, and has been steadily increasing since then. Recently, the parties have become increasingly over-the-top with one person going so far as to feed a giant watermelon filled with colored Jell-O to a hungry alligator. While these parties may have been invented with the purest of intentions, their repercussions are not so pure. Starting a child’s life off with a celebration of a socially constructed concept of which gender they are is a pressure that we should not be placing on the heads of newborn babies.

In April 2017, a man named Dennis Dickey, an off-duty Border Patrol agent, threw a gender reveal party for his pregnant wife. In preparation, Dickey filled a target with colored powder. When it exploded it would reveal the future child’s sex: pink for girls or blue for boys. The target also contained “Tannerite, a legal but highly explosive substance” so when Dickey shot at the target, “the ensuing explosion sparked a fire that quickly spread through the dry brush, spurred on by unusually high winds and lower-than-average rainfall.” This fire that took a week to contain, caused about eight million dollars’ worth of damage.

Not only are gender reveal parties a stupid tradition that are emotionally damaging to children, but they also cause accidents like the fire Dickey started or the broken ankle an expectant New Jersey father received when kicking a football filled with colored powder to find out the gender of his baby. To me, the biggest question this insane tradition poses is: Why do we need to know the gender of our baby? The gender does not indicate what your child may be like or what activities they will enjoy. When guardians hear the gender of their baby announced at their gender reveal, they are picturing what this child will be like in their head. They are already associating them with gender stereotypes. By deciding for your baby that they are a girl, you are automatically setting them up to follow socially-constructed stereotypes. When guardians have a girl they will be more likely to put them up for things like dance and gymnastics, which are both sports that we have deemed “feminine sports.” When they have boys they will likely put them into sports like baseball, basketball or football because we have deemed these more masculine. Who is to say that a guardian cannot have a child who identifies as male and has a passion for both figure skating and basketball?

Gender reveals are also associating certain genders with colors, which is very stereotypical. Whoever deemed certain colors as being more feminine or masculine is wack. I identify as female, and I have never liked the color pink. It is insane to assume that because someone associates with a certain gender that they also follow all of the stereotypes that go along with it. Not all females like pink, dancing, sewing or being nurturing towards others. These stereotypes can cause self-critical thought for both men and women. Women who don’t fit the stereotypical “nurturing and homely” personalities may feel like they are doing something wrong. Men who are more nurturing are pushed by their peers and society to conform to stereotypes that men are supposed to be tough and unfeeling. This leads to people hiding who they really are in order to avoid embarrassment and harassment from society.

This may still be unclear to some people, but biological sex and gender are not the same thing. Biological sex is very concretely connected with the genitalia a child has when they are born. Gender, however, does not depend on any physical trait that can be seen by doctors, parents, friends of parents, or anybody! Gender is a concept that we have constructed as a society to create more hierarchies. Most people are very familiar with the binary genders: male and female. What a lot of people don’t know, or don’t care to realize, is that in addition to the binary a person could also be transgender, gender fluid, gender-nonconforming or non-binary. As a society, we should be nurturing our children so that they grow up comfortable with their bodies and identities. Give them green and yellow clothes and paint their rooms white. Color should not be an indication of gender! Biological sex is not an indication of gender! Let children figure their gender out for themselves. If they don’t, they will miss out on an entire portion of their lives while they are pretending to be someone that their parents claimed they were.


Kaitlyn Pierce is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached be reached via email at kaitlyn.pierce@ucon.edu.