I blame Pinterest.
Pinterest is the first place I saw a depiction of a gender reveal party, which is a thing I obviously thought Gwyneth Paltrow made up to attract more attention to her towheaded clan of weirdly-named children before they even exited her pristine uterus. I don’t think that’s true but it could be.
These parties reached us normal folks about 8 years ago but the idea has really taken off in the last 4 or so. I can only imagine the looks on the faces of bakers everywhere in 2012 when white couple after white couple came into their bakery with an envelope containing their baby’s sex and a “super cute, original” idea for a pink or blue cake.
The first reason that gender reveal parties irk me is that “gender reveal party” is a misnomer. “Sex reveal party” would be a more appropriate title since the child’s parents are not revealing the gender of the baby, they are revealing the biological sex.
Gender, according to the American Psychological Association, refers to the “attitudes, feelings and behaviors that a given culture associates with a biological sex.” In simpler terms, sex is a biological feature while gender is the cultural significance we place on sex. At these parties, you’re learning whether the baby has a penis or a vagina AKA the baby’s sex, not its gender.
Beginning with the gender-targeted color of the cake, so-called gender reveal parties place cultural norms on a fetus that literally hasn’t entered this world yet. Not to mention, the parties leave out intersex individuals entirely. And since approximately 1 in every 1,500 children are born intersex, this is a pretty large omission.
Gender reveal parties are also 100% not about the child. They can’t be, because no one can know the child’s gender identity yet. It’s a cisnormative charade that allows parents-to-be to force their relatives to pay even more attention to them as though they aren’t already posting every ultrasound picture on Facebook.
This brings point #2: Why? Baby showers have been a tradition since the dawn of time. Why wasn’t that enough? Why did you have to keep going and plan another, separate party that doesn’t really serve a purpose all that different from a baby shower? Your friends and family have things to do! They don’t have time to celebrate your baby every other weekend!
Let me be clear, no one cares about the sex of your baby like you do. It’s not that your friends and family don’t care about you or your kid, their lives just aren’t affected very much one way or another. No matter the result, they’ll show up for the free cake (and to support you or whatever.) They just don’t care what color the batter was.
Please take my advice: save the money you’ll spend on an artisanal cake with the phrase “He or She: Open to See!” on it and spend it on your kid. Buy it an extra bottle or something. Whatever it is babies need, buy it more of that. I heard they go through a lot of diapers. Maybe grab an extra pack of Huggies.
(Note: The author is absolutely not anti-party. The author loves parties. She is not biased against parties. She just thinks this kind of party is dumb.)