Cut into a cake to see pink frosting. Burst a balloon and fill the room with blue confetti. Open a box and release a bunch of pink balloons. Place a watermelon into an alligator’s mouth and watch as blue liquid gushes out. Allow a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device to set fire to approximately 10,000 acres of land.
All this, in the name of gender reveal parties.
Expecting parents often throw gender reveal parties after learning the sex of their child as a form of celebration. Although these parents have good intentions, these parties can quickly get out of hand. Gender reveal parties are also socially problematic, as they enforce the idea that there are just two genders, or a “gender binary.”
It is time to stop having these elaborate celebrations. Commemorating the birth of a child is fine, but gender reveal parties have been causing much more harm than good.
The tradition began in 2008, when blogger Jenna Karvunidis baked a cake with pink frosting on the inside to celebrate the fact that she was going to give birth to a girl. Since then, these traditions have escalated to the aforementioned alligator and forest fires. Yes; not one, but two massive forest fires were caused by gender reveal parties gone wrong.
A clip shot in April 2017 shows a gender reveal party in Arizona, which burned close to 47,000 acres of land. It took firefighters from over 20 agencies more than week to put out the fire. More recently, in California, a gender reveal party sparked the “El Dorado fire” in San Bernardino valley. With the already humid climate making it peak-time for California forest fires, the colored smoke from the gender reveal ignited to create a perfect storm. As of Monday, the fire had spread to 8,600 acres and just 7% had been contained.
Since the escalation of the gender reveal parties, Karvunidis has urged parents to stop.
“Stop having these stupid parties. For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis. No one cares but you,” Karvunidis wrote on Facebook.
Karvunidis also said that she threw a gender reveal party not to celebrate the assigned sex of her child, but because she had previously had two miscarriages and wanted to celebrate the fact that she was having a healthy pregnancy.
Gender reveal parties could just as easily be replaced by a quiet gathering in which people celebrate a healthy pregnancy or the upcoming birth of a child. Not everything has to be about outdoing others on the internet.
These parties have also contributed to the idea of there being a gender binary. It interchangeably uses the words “sex” and “gender,” which are in reality, very different; sex is based on biology and describes the reproductive organs that the child is predicted to have, whereas gender is a social construct that encompasses societal and cultural norms. And of course, there are more than just two options for both sex and gender.
Having these parties tends to ostracize transgender people as well as people who do not identify as strictly male or strictly female. It is very limiting to the child, to assume how they will act based on their assigned, biological sex. These parties also fail to consider the fact that some children will be born as biologically intersex.
Gender reveal parties also tend to use very stereotypical themes attributed to girls and boys. For example, the color pink is meant to serve as the reveal for a girl and the color blue is meant to serve as the reveal for the boy. The methods in which parents reveal the gender also conforms to these stereotypes, such as having glitter and sparkles for girls but trucks and explosions for boys.
There are better alternatives to having gender reveal parties. It is time to move away from these parties and celebrate in a safer way that does not harm the environment or people, and in a way that moves away from the archaic gender stereotypes.