Gender is not black and white – or pink and blue, for that matter.
I love finding excuses to party just as much as the next person. Get an A on a test? Party. Breakup? Fiesta. Half birthday? Better invite everyone in my contacts. But finding out the sex of your child is where I draw the line.
First of all, calling it a “gender reveal” party isn’t even correct terminology. You’re not finding out the gender of your child, you’re finding out their sex.
Sex = reproductive organs.
Gender = identity/individual’s concept of themselves.
Gender is a bit more complex, as it is a spectrum. It can change at any time and is all about what characteristics you identify with. You can’t reveal the gender of your child if they haven’t been born to identify it themselves. By having a “gender” reveal party, you’re literally just celebrating your unborn child’s genitalia. Kind of weird, if you ask me.
These extravagant celebrations shed light on a greater societal problem.
We shove gender roles down the throats of our children before they even have a voice to express otherwise.
Children are not born with writing on their genitalia that dictates their favorite colors or literally anything else that they prefer. “Revealing” a sex by exploding pink confetti out of a sparkly pink cake succumbs the child to a life of conforming to various other gender roles. If you’re forcing gender-stereotyped colors onto your children, you’ll likely subject gender stereotyped items onto them as well – dresses and barbies for girls, trucks and Nerf guns for boys.
This is not to say that these clothes and toys themselves are bad, but that we should give our children the choice of what they wear and play with.
Subjecting gender stereotyped objects onto children can also lead to damaging behavioral expectations of our children. Whether we realize it or not, we often teach boys and girls to act in completely different ways.
We teach boys to partake in “manly” activities, which starts off as innocently as liking things like cars and sports. This slowly leads to more serious things such as placing a high importance on physical strength, telling them to “take care of” their sisters and mothers, and ultimately making men afraid of weakness and vulnerability.
This puts men in an extremely difficult and toxic cage of masculinity. It also makes them more internally sensitive because they are so afraid of ever showing emotion.
What starts off as innocently teaching girls to wear flower prints and play with dolls turns into more serious feminine expectations such as “acting like a lady,” or always being polite and catering to the fragile egos that we have created for men.
We teach girls to shrink themselves, which we can actually physically see! Boys are more likely to sit with their legs spread while girls will more likely have their legs crossed. This physical act is reflective of larger issues – we teach girls to physically make themselves smaller as not to threaten and emasculate men.
I do not plan to find out the sex of my child. It tells me nothing of importance. While some people feel they need to know in order to “plan,” I think that planning for your child by buying certain items is its own form of sexism. I totally understand that it may be difficult NOT to plan because we live in a sexist world.
This is where I challenge you to truly try to put any stereotypes out of your mind; it’s hard because we are extremely socialized. However, we all must remember that gender is not something that is black and white (or blue and pink, for that matter).
It is a spectrum that cannot be put into any definitive box.
We need to raise our children the same; teach them the same values and morals; grant them the whole world of possibilities as opposed to half of them. If you still REALLY want to throw a gender reveal party, I suggest making everything purple and lecturing your guests on gender stereotypes.
That’s my plan, anyway.