Gender reveal parties: detrimental to environment and society

Joy Webb

Jwebb4@uccs.edu 

On September 5, a gender reveal party started the now out-of-control El Dorado Fire in California. Not only did this gender reveal burn 21,000 acres and counting, it also predetermined an identity that could potentially harm an unborn individual for the remainder of their existence, before they are even born. 

     Would we label a child that is still in the womb a Christian, heterosexual, etc.? Why, especially in Western culture, is gender revealed before an individual even has the chance to say otherwise? Gender reveal parties and gender reveals, period, are harmful to every individual in our society that does not identify with a binary gender.  

     Before a person is even born, they are already ascribed a gender identity by social constructions, which they must identify with and accept in order to fit into the American mold. This has largely to do with cultural norms that have been passed down since the beginning of time and have increasingly become more rigid with many historical teachings, namely those of the Bible, that support and demand the gender-binary that exists.  

     What if someone does not feel they fit into the male and female boxes? Children are born with an identity that already determines much of their fate. If someone is born and labeled a “woman,” then they must live with the harmful repercussions that the patriarchy has intended for the female gender without ever choosing it for themself.  

     Gender, unlike sex, is a social construct that has supported the binary of only the masculine and feminine. However, more and more people are questioning the limiting view of gender in Western culture. Many brave individuals in my generation are non-binary, rejecting the labels of “man” and “woman” while still aiming to be seen and accepted as human beings.  

     Before we are ever able to progress forward toward equality, we must recognize that not all social norms that have been prominent in history have a place in our world. Even our language binds us to terms that may not truly encapsulate the whole human experience or identity. This includes gender, which has only allowed a place for “man” and “woman.” 

     Gender reveal parties often include an explosion of sorts, revealing one of two colors (pink means the child is a “girl” and blue means the child is a “boy”). The mere semblance of colors representing gender is problematic enough as is but choosing your child’s gender without their permission means that they are being born into a confined state of existence before they are ever able to even speak.  

Two pink balloons.
Stock photo courtesy of PixaBay.com

     Instead of throwing a gender reveal party and restricting your child before they are even born, perhaps throw a party that celebrates bringing a human life into the world: man, woman, non-binary, genderfluid or whatever the fuck they want to be.  

     Setting off fireworks that can start fires and emit harsh chemicals into the air that effect wildlife and the environment is selfish. There are already baby showers, is a party revealing a made-up concept really necessary, especially with the detrimental effects to the world around us, both environmentally and socially? 

     If we ever decide to detach from the harmful norms that exist in our world, we need to take intersectionality into consideration and unlearn what we were taught to allow all people to exist, no matter who they are.  

     Everyone deserves a seat at the table in 2020, but having a gender reveal party means that you are not even inviting the person to eat, but rather to starve, struggle and try to survive in a world that demands that you fit a mold that never should have been imposed in the first place. No one should have to curl themselves up, dim themselves down or vanquish who they are for their existence to be valid.  

     Start caring about the planet and acknowledging the effects of harmful societal constructs.