Gender reveals: a party to reveal your kids’ junk while they’re still unborn. Gender reveals are a relatively new phenomenon that has already caused significant damage to both the environment and the general sanity of people like me, who keep getting invited to them and then having nightmares about being enveloped in a cloud of blue smoke while people chant “BOY! BOY! BOY!” into my face. Not only do gender reveals typically involve bad cake and a criminal amount of colored glitter, but they’ve also become an obsession with couples who don’t think having a dry baby shower and forcing us all to buy washcloths with ducks on them and then pretend we’re excited to paint a f*cking onesie is enough to properly celebrate their successful bout of unprotected sex.
The most recent cause of the aforementioned environmental damage was inadvertently caused by a couple in California, who set off a pyrotechnic device in San Bernardino county that ignited nearby brush and started one of the many wildfires burning in my home state. That wildfire has already burned more than 14,000 acres and evacuated hundreds of people from their homes, adding insult to injury, since the reason it started was completely unnecessary. Even the woman who is largely credited with inventing the gender reveal party, blogger Jenna Karvunidis, has spoken out about the ways in which what started as a cute, fun event for family has morphed into chaotic, sometimes hazardous situations, saying “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.” I couldn’t say it better. But I’m happy to add my own twist to the breakdown of why gender reveals, as they stand as now, need to end.
1. It’s Not Even A Gender Reveal, It’s A Sex Reveal
You’re not even calling it what it really is! You are announcing what genitals your baby has based on your doctor’s best guess with an ultrasound probe. Gender, on the other hand, is literally the cultural and social expression of a person’s sex, which can be revealed in a wide variety of ways and to different degrees. Girls liking pink and boys liking blue is an example of a stereotypical gender assumption that we’ve largely grown past (well, some of us). There is no way to assume or predict the way your child’s gender identity will assert itself until they’ve been, ya know, BORN, and had time to figure that out on their own. But it freaks people out to call it a sex reveal because it sounds creepy and weird, which should tell you something. And that thing is: Announcing your baby’s genitals with a powder cannon you shoot into the air is weird and creepy.
2. Celebrating (Or Being Disappointed By) Your Baby’s Sex Is A Privilege
If I had a nickel for every man in a viral gender reveal clip who throws his hat on the ground as pink confetti falls down around him, I’d be able to buy that inflatable hot tub I’ve had my eye on since the beginning of quarantine. The fact that you’re pregnant at all is an accomplishment and a big one. As a gay woman, I can attest to that. Some of us have to actually pay money and visit a lot of doctors and use a stranger’s genetic material to achieve what a healthy, straight couple can do for free any night of the week in between Selling Sunset episodes. I’m not bitter, or anything, but yeah it stings a little. And it’s not just an ordeal for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. There are plenty of heterosexual couples who struggle with infertility, or who have to search for alternative methods to create a family for any number of reasons. The point is that yes, healthy pregnancy and a foreseeably healthy baby is absolutely worth celebrating. For some people, a healthy baby is a miracle, period. The sex, and later on, the gender of that child is secondary to that baby’s general health and wellbeing. Being able to be disappointed or excited about your baby’s sex is a privilege that we don’t all share, and that should be recognized.
3. We All Know You’re Just Doing It For Attention
Yeah, I said it. I know this might surprise some folks, but you can find out your unborn baby’s sex, be excited either way and share that news with your family without setting anything on fire or buying a cake with fugly pastel pink fondant. But people can’t resist the urge to share a personal event on Instagram and watch the hate-likes roll in. And that’s fine; in fact, it’s more than fine. I am completely on board with your need for attention, as attention is something I don’t hate either. But disguising it with a genitalia announcement makes it weird. Would you buy a sign that said “VAGINA!”? No? I didn’t think so. Then maybe think again about doing essentially that for online attention. And if you would buy that sign, then go for it. At least you’re acknowledging that it’s a sex reveal and not trying to act like it’s something else.
Images: t.max / shutterstock.com
Let’s all agree to agree that gender reveal parties suck. Baby showers are also boring AF. Who wants to play games like pin-the-diaper-on-the-baby and watch moms-to-be open endless gifts of nipple cream and breast pumps? No one who has anything better to do with their time, that’s who! Well, there’s supposedly a new type of party in town that sounds much better. Goodbye, baby showers and gender reveals. Hellooo, pre-parenthood parties?
WTF Is A Pre-Parenthood Party?
According to Andrea Fowler, entertainment editor of TheBash.com, pre-parenthood or before-the-birth parties are “a celebration that’s totally focused on the parent- or parents-to-be to acknowledge this massive shift in their own life. The baby is going to get plenty of attention in due time anyway, right?” RIGHT. The parents are the ones doing all the hard work who deserve all the love and attention (and partying) before their lives are
ruined changed forever.
Sara Raffa and Linden Ellis, co-founders of party supplies and planning company Coterie, compare pre-parenthood parties to a more enjoyable version of the traditional baby shower, but one that people actually want to RSVP yes to. “Baby-moons have been a thing for a while, but we feel like there’s a growing trend toward less of a shower and more of an ‘omg-I’m-having-a-baby-let’s-celebrate-my-last-days-of-freedom’ with your friends.”
View this post on Instagram
Dedicating my first #WCW to these two #beautiful #besties of mine @lauralanerad & @whitneyerd 👯♀️Two of the strongest, most ambitious, loving, passionate, kind souls I know. So lucky to call you two besties and I absolutely cannot wait to meet my new “nephews” soon!!! 🤰🏻🐣🤰🏻👶🏻👶🏻💕 #hatchelorette #radhatchelorette #babyonbaord
Pre-parenthood parties are more commonly called “hatchelorettes“ and “Dadchelor parties.” These last hurrahs are mainly intended to give more credit to the parents (*cough* mainly the mom). “Nine months of pregnancy is no easy feat, and the baby isn’t exactly enjoying the party from inside the womb,” the co-founders said. Now that’s something I can get behind. I’d much rather celebrate my friend surviving pregnancy and the miracle of childbirth than a baby that’s about to take away precious time from me hanging out with her and getting a text back within a reasonable amount of time in the future. Oops—are my attachment issues and dislike of children showing?
Fowler also claims that these parties are gaining popularity because imposing gender-related stereotypes onto babies isn’t something a lot of parents want to do anymore, for obvious reasons. “Just because the sonogram paints a certain picture doesn’t mean it’s an accurate depiction of the baby’s identity.” And, in fact, “Jenna Karvunidis, the blogger who is credited with the first viral gender reveal in 2008, says she has mixed feelings about it today.”
Sidenote: In case you didn’t see Karvunidis’s new viral Facebook post announcing those mixed feelings, she mentions that Bee, “the world’s first gender-reveal party baby is a girl who wears suits.” CAN YOU SAY PLOT TWIST?
A weird thing came up on Twitter, so I figured I'd share here. Someone remembered it was me who "invented" the gender…
Are People Really Doing This?
So pre-parenthood parties sound great and all, but is this actually the newest (pre-)parenthood trend? Or is this just a new name for something that single friends of parents-to-be might get tricked into attending?
According to Daniel Levine, trends expert and keynote speaker, pre-parenthood parties are far from being mainstream, but the desire to celebrate the last days of freedom has been gaining traction on the internet. “The media creates a feedback loop whereby people actually have the celebrations they’re reading about. I’ve seen this same cycle happen with gender reveals, babymoons, and divorce parties, among other trendy events.” In other words, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Raffa and Ellis have experience hosting these parties, love the idea, and confirm Levine’s point. “We obviously aren’t historians but we’re definitely seeing a trend toward more people looking for more excuses to get together with friends and celebrate. This is especially true during this ‘pre-parenthood’ stage of life,” they said. “Life is about to go from late nights out with friends to late nights in changing diapers and losing sleep, so you want to get in all the fun that you can.” Fair enough. As someone who values her sleep and independence, I can respect that.
“From a trends perspective, pre-parenthood parties are not yet a thing—at least a popular thing,” says Levine. “But who knows? Maybe if enough breathless articles are written about them, they will start happening en masse.”
Well, count this as one of the soon-to-be countless breathless articles about pre-parenthood parties. It doesn’t seem like a real trend yet, but we’re definitely on board with celebrating the parents-to-be and not the babies-to-be, as long as the party has good food, a lot of alcohol, and is more fun than gender reveals and baby showers. We could totally get used to seeing moms thriving and dudes dressed in big baby costumes on our Instagram feeds. As Fowler says, “Ultimately, when you’re celebrating a big life milestone, it’s important to do it your way. Don’t be afraid to deviate a little from tradition and make your party something really special and unique to you.”
Images: Unsplash / Natalie Chaney, Facebook (HighGlossSauce), @katiejoythiele / Instagram