By Lucy Kramer, Newswire Intern
Since 2008, gender reveal parties have taken the internet by storm. This media trend has created controversy all around the world, and the debate is not going away anytime soon. We as a society should put an end to gender reveal parties for many reasons. These celebrations can be very dangerous when pyrotechnics and other irresponsible activities are involved.
Most recently, a now-viral TikTok shows a couple standing in front of big letters spelling out the word “BABIES” as pink smoke shoots out of pyrotechnic cannons. Quickly, the scene shifts to panic as one of the letters catches on fire along with the wooden fence in the background. Thankfully, no one was hurt as a result of this incident, but that is not always the case. According to GenderRevealDeathCount.com, there have been more than six deaths, at least one missing person, more than 20 minor injuries and over 69,000 acres destroyed by wildfires as a result of gender reveal parties gone wrong over the years.
These parties not only affect those involved in the celebration but have also had deadly consequences for people who have been caught in the disastrous conditions. In 2020, a gender reveal went wrong and sparked the El Dorado wildfire that lead to the death of firefighter Charles Morton. The fire also injured 13 others and destroyed multiple buildings and homes.
Even when these hazards are removed, the whole concept of a gender reveal party negatively reinforces gender-based stereotypes. Our society has progressed immensely since 2008 when gender reveal parties first became popular. In fact, blogger Jenna Karvunidis, who first helped start this trend with her gender reveal cake filled with pink icing, has expressed how her views around gender reveal parties have changed over the years.
“Who cares what gender the baby is? I did at the time because we didn’t live in 2019, and didn’t know what we know now — that assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what’s between their legs,” Karvunidis said in a Facebook post back in 2019.
Calling these parties “gender reveal parties” is a problem of its own. Using the word “gender” implies that the sex of the baby will become their future gender identity. The gender and biological sex of a person are two completely different things. The biological sex of a baby refers to the type of genitalia a baby will be born with whereas gender identity can be a multitude of things. Someone’s gender identity and expression can surpass the traditional ideas of femininity or masculinity. Gender reveal parties exclude the possibility that someone could identify as non-binary, transgender, genderqueer and so much more.
Now, I understand that for many parents a gender reveal party is a way to celebrate an important milestone in one’s pregnancy while also being able to involve close friends and family. But there are other ways to get grandparents excited for the birth of their first grandchild or to involve future godparents, aunts or uncles. Instead of a gender reveal party, future parents can have their loved ones organize a baby shower. This way, there is less stress on the parents, and friends and family can be involved in the pregnancy journey of a child that they will adore.
Traditionally, baby showers are hosted for first-time parents. In the case that this is someone’s second, or third, or even sixth child, I propose that a shower of sorts can still be thrown. As opposed to a gender reveal party, the festivity could be focused solely on celebrating the new life that is being brought into the world. At these birth celebrations traditional games like “who knows the parents” are best, or predictions games involving the actual birth date, weight of the baby.. can still be played. Activities like these are able to honor everyone involved while not promoting a social media trend that is detrimental to our society.