One of the most ridiculous creations of the millennial generation is the gender reveal party.
Basically, a gender reveal party is one in which the parents reveal their unborn infant(s) alleged gender.
Like a wedding shower or a baby shower, a gender reveal party has no ritual or legal purpose but is just an excuse for the hosts to throw a party and receive presents from their friends and loved ones.
Unfortunately, like weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs and quince parties, gender reveal parties grew from simple origins to monstrous proportions as parents-to-be tried to outdo each other.
Often, their efforts led to tragedy and disaster. Last year a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” used at a gender reveal party was the source of a California wildfire that burned out of control for months.
In Mexico, a gender reveal party resulted in the deaths of two people after a plane that carried a sign announcing “it’s a girl” crashed into the ocean.
Later a father-to-be in New Hampshire was charged with setting off a 36Kg homemade bomb that rocked homes across two states. At least he survived, which is more than we can say about the expectant dad who died when a device he was using to reveal his child’s gender exploded.
If all this were not enough to stop all future gender reveal parties, the fact remains that these events perpetuate gender stereotypes and a binary gender system.
“Gender reveal” is a misnomer: an unborn child’s gender identity is impossible to determine medically. Not every child is born “a girl” or “a boy;” some are born intersex, which happens in an estimated 1 out of 4500-5500 births. Everything from decorations to gift suggestions scream gender stereotypes, primarily the ones related to gender and color.
Though the idea that “pink is for girls” and “blue is for boys” is now taken for granted, it is a relatively new idea. According to Martena Guirgus, “things weren’t always this way."
“In fact, only a few years ago, blue was for girls and pink was for boys. Pink is derived from the color red, so it was automatically associated with masculinity because it was a strong color and blue was associated with girls since it was more of a soft and graceful color.
“This contradicts our society’s norms and beliefs today; we consider pink as a weak feminine color, while blue is seen as masculine.” Gender colors flipped after World War II, when G.I. Joe returned from the battlefield and Rosie the Riveter was sent back to the kitchen. Manufacturers settled on blue for boys and pink for girls, a system which, despite a brief androgynous period in the ‘60s, continues until this day. Today most people consider the pink-blue color scheme natural, and all for the good of the baby.
This system of gender and color affects all our lives, even our personal tastes. For example, blue is my favorite color. It inspires my taste in clothes, accessories, and decorations. But I was not born with a natural affinity for blue. My parents influenced my tastes by surrounding me with blue, from the moment I was born. The fact that I refuse to be tangled up in blue, going to the extent of sometimes buying pink or red items, is still a visible act of rebellion, though not one to the extent performed daily by my trans, intersex or non-binary friends. Rebelling against pink or blue is not enough to overthrow our current gender system though it might be enough to stop a few gender reveal parties.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and journalist. He has been an active member of South Florida's LGBT community for more than four decades and has served in various community organizations.