…And a Bunch of Things You Can Do Instead

[The follow up to this article, Everything Wrong With Gender Reveal Parties…]

1. Throw a birth announcement party

Instead of revealing the baby’s supposed gender, just reveal the baby. Throw a big party announcing the due date, or the day your caesarean is scheduled, or when you hit the nine months mark and are still waiting for the baby to decide it wants to be born.

Have cake and balloons, and tell people what names you’re thinking of – hell, you can even announce the expected sex at the party as long as it’s not the main focus of the party. You can theme the party around birth instead of gender, with tiny food or stork related decorations.

2. Have a christening/naming ceremony/other cultural or religious ceremony

Christian tradition has the Christening or baptism soon after the baby is born, ensuring that the taint of ‘original sin’ is blessed off of the baby’s soul and that the Church family is committed to help raise the baby properly. Some cultures have baby naming ceremonies, where people witness the baby being officially named. If your religion or culture has a ceremony like this, consider looking into it.

If you aren’t that involved in your religion or culture, this would be a good way to get back involved in it, and to connect with community. Instead of starting your baby’s life off with some damaging gender role enforcement, you can start them off by introducing them to their heritage.

3. Throw a name reveal

You want to reveal something, so reveal the name! Have a shortlist of names and get your guests to guess what name you’ve chosen. Give each name a colour and you can even do the balloon or cake reveal with the colour of the chosen name! The bonus is, you can even use whichever colour balloons you like. If the name is along a theme like flowers; Rose, Lily, or Daisy; or the Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John; you can base the party on that theme.

The name is the most important thing about your baby, after all, and the main thing you have control over. Making the hype about the baby’s name rather than its genitals also makes the hype about your choice, and about the person you want to mould your child into.

4. Have a baby shower

More common in the US than the UK is the baby shower – a pre-birth party getting the parents baby-related presents. It’s good to be prepared, so throwing a baby shower is a great alternative to a gender reveal party, and as it’s a present ‘shower’ the focus is on buying you grocery priced gifts like nappies and childproof locks rather than expensive gifts and rather on you throwing a big fancy party.

And, if your plan would have been to have a baby shower as well as a gender reveal party, turn the baby shower into the big party; hopefully as you host a more scaled up party your guests might scale up their helpful presents from a pack of nappies to a changing bag, a changing matt or even just a multipack of nappies.

5. Throw mum a party

Mum, or whoever is actually the pregnant one, is the one doing all the physical work. While all of these baby parties focus on the baby and whatever fact about it you’ve chosen to celebrate, it might be worth throwing her (or him/them/etc) a party instead.

Throwing a party for the one that’s pregnant is just as supportive as the baby shower parties, in that there are gifts and things. The difference is that, especially as pregnancy is hard work and is followed by having a baby which is hard work, the presents are not about childcare. Instead of asking for nappies and talking about birth weight, the gift list is bath bombs and things, and the theme is giving mum a relaxing time.

6. Have a zeroth birthday party

Throw a birthday party for baby! Just like birthday parties don’t have to be on the exact day of a child’s birthday, this can be on a Saturday before the due date, or a Sunday after the birth. Instead of having a reveal of balloons or a surprise colour cake or anything like that, have birthday events. The day your baby is born is their birthday after all!

Like any birthday party, it can be as big or as small as you like, and at its most basic just involves a cake and some party hats. At zero years old, your baby doesn’t even have any friends to invite, so just have your friends and family like any other party, except they bring their children.

7. Throw a fake gender reveal party

The activist’s choice! If you’re feeling pressured to throw a gender reveal party and you really don’t want to, use it as an opportunity to make a point or a joke. The big reveal can be purple or white, the big announcement can be “The sex is… not something we’ve chosen to find out yet!” or you could even have a surprise lesson on the problems with enforced gender.

This is a bit of a risk – if guests are too invested in your reveal, they could be offended or upset that you’re ‘attacking’ their gender role beliefs and the party could get awkward. On the other hand, if the people in your life are against gender reveals and the gendering of babies, you might upset people before you even get to reveal your joke. It’s something that would be fantastic to see had happened, though.

8. Have a meet-the-baby day

Like an open house, take a relaxed weekend day to let people come and go, meeting the new baby. This casual all-day way of having a party means less stress and more party. You can just have some light snacks and drinks, people won’t all be there at once, and the atmosphere will be laid back.

It takes the focus of revealing anything about the baby and feels very mature and calm. There’s no need for a big cake, but you can have cake. It’s low key – there’s no pressure to do any particular thing. You sit around and people come to you, all nice and slowly, lasting all day.

9. Throw a “Wetting the Baby’s Head” party

A British tradition, this one doesn’t even really involve the baby. Typically an activity for the dad, it involves going out for a drink to celebrate a successful birth. In this day and age, however, it can be for both parents. After all, everything is going to be about the baby for a good few months, so one night out is probably a welcome break.

Leave the baby at home with a relative and have a nice drink at the pub; it doesn’t have to be alcoholic for those breast feeding or just wanting to avoid a hangover when they have a crying baby. For many people having kids, the social pressure to do certain things isn’t just damaging the child, it’s damaging them. Take a break and have a night out, you’re having a baby and you deserve it.

Advertisements

Everything Wrong With Gender Reveal Parties…

1. You don’t know if your baby is a boy or a girl

Yes, yes, yes, you’re sick of trans people and ‘woke’ cis people pointing out that gender isn’t the same as birth-assigned sex. But it isn’t! What you’re revealing isn’t whether your baby is a boy or a girl, but what genitals your baby has and the category they will be put in because of it. As adults, male and female look different, but before puberty, the only difference between ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ is the shape of their genitals. And that’s a creepy reason to throw a party.

Your child could grow up to be transgender, and the more importance you place on determining gender from genitals the more trouble you’re going to have with that.

2. Assumed gender is not the main fact about your baby

People always ask if your baby is a boy or a girl as if that’s the only thing that matters about a baby. The health of the baby, the health of the mum, weight, appearance, what you’re going to name them, whether they have any birthmarks etc; these are also facts about a baby you could be asking or announcing.

To be quite honest? You had a baby, and a new person now exists. That’s the main fact here, not what supposed gender they are. There is the amazing feat of birth, the fact that everyone has yet to meet this baby and while be excited they were born, and the sheer fact that they’re a human being not a one in two option. But yet, the gender is the big reveal.

3. It revolves around silly gender stereotypes

These parties are never just the announcement and then unrelated partying; the reveal is visual and the party that follows is connected to the gender announced. It’s a baby, and people are very complicated, so how do people and products reveal gender in these parties? Stereotypes. Using the dull pink or blue, or having some stereotypical interests the child might or might not have based on their gender.

None of the adults in your life has personalities based on one or two interests that are shared by everyone that’s the same gender as them. None of the women in your life only wear pink and none of the men only blue. Why is the baby being shoved into one or two gendered traits or revealed as pink-themed or blue-themed?

4. Enforcing gender roles is damaging to all children

It isn’t just transgender people who are damaged by enforcing gender on them; gender roles limit all children and cause them to limit themselves. It isn’t just saying that girls do A and boys do B, which pressures girls into A and boys into B, it pressures boys away from A and girls away from B. There is a serious lack of women in STEM careers, and it stems from gender stereotyping. If sports are for boys, girls feel like they can’t do it before they even try, and the idea that it’s for boys is ‘proven’ by the lack of girls who like sport. Likewise, if boys who don’t like sport are made to feel less than and pushed into taking part, and the idea that it’s for boys is ‘proven’ by all the boys who play sports.

It might not seem like a big deal, but putting one gender role on a child is just shutting off the other options from them. These gender reveal parties tend to have really narrow roles for boys and girls, and separating children into two groups and assigning things to one or the other is damaging for any child.

5. The gender roles for baby girls are misogynistic

All the pink… but it’s not just pink, it’s the activities and interests that people use to represent ‘girl’ in gender reveals. It’s always almost an aesthetic thing; a feminine item of clothing that is decorative, an accessory, something to make you look more attractive. To the gender reveal, a girl is a pretty thing, and a pretty thing only.

This narrow view is basically the dictionary definition of misogyny – women are capable, skilled and valuable as more than aesthetically pleasing objects. Women should be allowed to be unattractive.

6. The gender roles for baby boys are toxic

The pastel blue is the last soft thing in the gender stereotypes for boys that aren’t scarily violent. While girls are represented by aesthetic things, boys are represented by weapons or war. Guns, camo, army clothing… boys are trained to be aggressive from birth, and this is a huge part of a problem called “toxic masculinity” where men feel unable to express any emotion other than anger.

This not only makes them push joy, sadness, and worry inside them to eat them up, it causes them to define their interactions with other people via violence. Men should be able to have and express feelings, and this starts by not categorising boys as bullets.

7. It’s just one more pointless thing you feel pressured to spend money on

It’s a well-known fact that having a baby is an expensive decision. Eighteen years plus of expenses, with some very pricey necessities right when they’re born. Preparing your home, cots, clothes, nappies, pushchairs, food, medical bills, pregnancy clothing, the list goes on and on. Not to miss an opportunity, however, society has decreed you must have multiple parties and events where people have to buy you presents and you have to pay to host a good party. Pregnancy announcements with professional photoshoots, baby showers with pre-birth gifts, and gender reveals with huge reveal displays… and all before the baby is born.

The announcement needs to be in the form of a visual display, with a professionally made cake that’s pink or blue inside, a fancy box filled with helium balloons or a jack-in-the-box style confetti popper. These things are priced to match the supposed ‘need’ and replace a simple spoken announcement – the party itself replaces a card or even text to family and friends.

8. It only works if you pretend intersex isn’t a thing

Of course, these sex reveals rely on the belief that your newborn baby will one hundred percent have easily identifiable genitals and their hormones will develop in the expected way, with expected reproductive organs etc. It’s estimated that one in a hundred children are born intersex, and many of those will have “ambiguous genitals”. Even if the ultrasound technician can see genitals that they can categorise, this doesn’t rule out intersex conditions.

Intersex children may have ‘normal’ genitals of one sex category but the full appearance otherwise of the other sex category. One in a hundred may seem like a small chance, but when nearly 700,000 babies born each year in the UK, that’s nearly 7,000 intersex babies every year, or an average of 19 a day. Intersex people are real and cannot be ignored for your comfort.

9. It adds to the culture of ‘corrective’ genital surgery

Not only do intersex babies get born despite the insistence that all babies are either 100% male or 100% female, they are a much-mistreated group. For the babies that are born with ambiguous genitals, a sad truth is the idea that it’s abnormal means unnecessary surgery is done to ‘fix’ them. These babies often grow up with no idea they are intersex until puberty because they have been made to appear non-intersex and obviously this aesthetic surgery doesn’t magically make them non-intersex and their hormones and reproductive systems are still those of an intersex person.

In an era where religious people are criticised for circumcising their babies, and there is much debate on whether non-life-threatening medical issues should be dealt with via surgery when surgery on babies is so risky… The idea that performing such severe surgery on children to pretend they aren’t intersex is horrifying, and it all stems from this need to announce children as ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ before they’re even born.

[Follow up article: …And a Bunch of Things You Can Do Instead]