Gender reveal party

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Blue confetti suggesting the birth of a baby boy
A white frosted cake decorated with black question marks and Mars and Venus symbols; the cake has been cut open and a piece sits on its side on a paper plate to the right. There are three layers to cake; the top and the bottom layers are off-white and the middle layer is pink.
A gender reveal cake sliced open with a pink middle layer suggesting a female baby

A gender reveal party is a celebration during which parents, friends and family find out the sex of a baby. This has become possible with the increasing accuracy of various technologies of determining the baby's sex before birth. It is a relatively new phenomenon[1] and distinct from a baby shower, which is a gift-giving ceremony.

Gender reveal parties are typically held near the middle of the pregnancy.[2] Often, it employs the trope of pink (denoting a female) or blue (denoting a male), perhaps hidden inside a cake or piñata. When the cake is cut or the piñata is opened, the color popularly associated with the baby's sex is revealed.

Description[edit]

The gender reveal party can be seen as an analog of the baby shower. Although a gender reveal party can replace a common baby shower, it is often a separate event.[2] In that case, a gender-reveal party is typically held after the first trimester, which is high risk for miscarriage, but before the baby shower, when guests might wish to give gender-specific gifts.[2] Gender reveal parties typically are open to men and women, unlike the traditionally all-female baby shower.[2] They often feature gender prediction games for the attendees.[2]

The most common form of revelation of the baby's sex is through the cutting of a specially decorated cake, whose inside is decorated either blue or pink.[2] While blue and pink are typically associated with gender differentiation, alternative gendered symbols include bucks and does, bows and bow ties, and baseball and softball. The methods include the release of balloons from a box, spraying silly string in the air in the color of the gender, and painting the partner's hands and having them place it on a white shirt to reveal the gender to name a few.

Some of the methods used have proven to be dangerous. The 2017 Sawmill Fire in Arizona was caused by a gender-reveal party that combined blue powder and an explosive.[3] Other dangerous stunts have involved fireworks and alligators.[3] "Gender reveal burnouts", in which cars emit billowing clouds of pink or blue smoke, are a fad that became popular in Australia around 2018. The Queensland Police Service warns that this practice is dangerous, and that there have been a number of attempted "burnouts" that resulted in flaming vehicles and arrests.[4] In October 2019, an Iowa woman was killed by debris from the explosion of a homemade device meant to reveal her relative's gender.[5]

History[edit]

In July 2008, blogger Jenna Karvunidis posted about a party where her child's sex was revealed. Thebump.com shared this content, and the idea, per Karvunidis, "kind of spread from there."[citation needed]

Karvunidis later expressed regret at having invented the gender reveal party; In July 2019, she wrote that her views on gender have changed, saying "Plot twist! The baby from the original gender reveal party is a girl who wears suits. She says 'she' and 'her' and all of that, but you know she really goes outside gender norms."[6][7]

The rise of the gender reveal party seems "inextricably tied to social media."[according to whom?] The photo-sharing sites Instagram and Pinterest began in 2010 and increased awareness of the gender-reveal party.[1] YouTube searches report[vague][clarification needed] that there are "more than 500,000 videos of expectant couples slicing cakes, setting off smoke bombs and bashing piñatas to expose one of two colors: pink or blue". The first public video of a gender reveal was posted on YouTube in 2008.[8] It is said[by whom?] that the trend of gender reveal videos began to emerge on YouTube in mid-2011 and continued to grow in terms of uploads and views from then on. In 2017 there was 60 percent increase on gender reveal views compared to 2016.[9]

Mediatization is the likelihood of more expectant couples to take part in gender reveal parties after seeing those produced in the media.[2]

Criticism[edit]

Blogger Rhiannon Giles has criticized the term gender reveal as a misnomer, as all available tests measure the child's biological sex, which may be distinguished from gender.[10] It is estimated that 1 in 4500 to 5500 infants are biologically intersex, with atypical development of chromosomal, gonadal, or anatomic sex.[11][12]

Even when the sex is accurately identified and the child is not intersex, a gender reveal party can reinforce a pre-conceived idea of gender for the family, although the child may later in life identify as transgender or non-binary.[11] Some parents have rejected gender-reveal events because of a greater awareness of gender identity.[1]

In July 2019, Jenna Karvunidis, considered one of the pioneers of gender reveal parties, said "I started to realize that nonbinary people and trans people were feeling affected by this, and I started to feel bad that I had released something bad into the world", and that "people have to re-evaluate" this practice.[13]

Giles has also criticized such parties for perpetuating gender stereotypes through themes such as "Rifles or Ruffles?" and "Wheels or Heels?".[10] Expectant mothers may not want to know the sex of their baby before birth, due to their strong rooted beliefs in gender equality.[2] In some countries, revealing the sex of a fetus prior to birth may result in sex-selective abortion. Sex-selective abortions and infanticide has been seen throughout history and holds many moral and ethical implications.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Severson, Kim (June 17, 2019). "It's a Girl! It's a Boy! And for the Gender-Reveal Cake, It May Be the End". NYT Parenting. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Pasche Guignard, Florence (September 2015). "A Gendered Bun in the Oven. The Gender-reveal Party as a New Ritualization during Pregnancy". Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses. 44 (4): 479–500. doi:10.1177/0008429815599802. ISSN 0008-4298.
  3. ^ a b "Are Gender Reveal Parties Getting Too Extreme?". October 16, 2018. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
  4. ^ Emily Dixon (July 9, 2019). "Australian gender reveal party goes wrong as car bursts into flames". CNN.
  5. ^ "Sheriff: Gender reveal party explosion was a stunt gone awry". La Crosse Tribune. October 29, 2019. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  6. ^ Garcia-Navarro, Lourdes. "Woman Who Popularized Gender-Reveal Parties Says Her Views On Gender Have Changed". www.kunc.org. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  7. ^ Gender Reveal Podcast July 29, 2019
  8. ^ Gieseler, Carly (February 9, 2017). "Gender-reveal parties: performing community identity in pink and blue". Journal of Gender Studies. 27 (6): 661–671. doi:10.1080/09589236.2017.1287066. ISSN 0958-9236.
  9. ^ Pasche Guignard, Florence (September 2015). "A Gendered Bun in the Oven. The Gender-reveal Party as a New Ritualization during Pregnancy". Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses. 44 (4): 479–500. doi:10.1177/0008429815599802. ISSN 0008-4298.
  10. ^ a b Hafner, Josh (March 12, 2017). "Gender reveals: Insanely popular — and also outdated?". USA Today.
  11. ^ a b c Nahata, Leena (November 24, 2017). "The Gender Reveal: Implications of a Cultural Tradition for Pediatric Health". Pediatrics. 140 (6): e20171834. doi:10.1542/peds.2017-1834. ISSN 0031-4005. PMID 29175971.
  12. ^ Sax, Leonard (August 2002). "How common is intersex? A response to Anne Fausto‐Sterling". Journal of Sex Research. 39 (3): 174–178. doi:10.1080/00224490209552139.
  13. ^ Ho, Vivian (July 26, 2019). "Pioneer of gender-reveal party regrets sparking trend: 'Let kids be who they are'". The Guardian. Retrieved July 26, 2019.

Further reading[edit]