There Was Another Explosion At A Gender Reveal Party — Is It Time To Stop This Outdated Tradition?

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The Dangers Of Gender Reveal Parties

After a New Hampshire gender reveal party ended in explosions, cracked building foundations, and damaged water lines, it’s time to listen to what the universe has been telling us for years:

Gender reveal parties are bad. 

This latest installment is just another chapter in the many catastrophic tales of gender reveal parties gone wrong. 

A forest fire in California evacuating 3,000 residents. A fight in Applebee’s. Multiple other explosions. A grandmother killed by a gender-revealing pipe bomb. A plane crash. Another wildfire resulting in approximately $8 million worth of damage

In New Hampshire, the eager family set off an enormous blast using tannerite, an over-the-counter explosive used for target practice. When used as directed, someone would shoot a firearm at the tannerite until it exploded, at which point they would presumably walk away from the flames in slow motion. This family thought it was a good idea to explode 80 pounds of the stuff, which is enough to cause significant structural damage to homes and people. 

You get the idea. Gender reveal parties are dangerous and fatal as they often involve pyrotechnics and a lack of forethought. But they also have disastrous psychological impacts. 

This culture of defining an unborn child by what is between their legs is not only creepy, it’s creating a world where a child’s self-expression is restricted before they are even born. 

What even is a gender reveal party? 

These over-the-top events have likely been highly influenced by social media as parents-to-be seek to outdo one another with elaborate affairs. 

But what does it really mean to have a spray of blue or pink confetti come out of a pinata while your family and friends take photos? 

The misleading name of these parties confuses the issue at hand. Parents are not revealing a gender at all. They are unveiling the biological sex of the child. 

It is essentially a party that publicly declares what reproductive organs your unborn baby will have.

Plenty of physical and physiological evidence reveals there is a scientific distinction between gender and biological sex organs. Thus, whatever color confetti you use to celebrate your child really has no bearing on what gender identity they will develop after birth.  

Already, many conservatives and transphobic people are horrified by the idea of someone announcing their pronouns, yet it has been deemed socially acceptable to do the same for an unborn baby.

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Gender reveal parties reinforce harmful binaries. 

The parties may seem like harmless fun, apart from the occasional forest fire and explosion. But the long-term effects of gender reveal parties can be even more damaging. 

They attempt to set the standard for who a child will be before that infant even enters the world. 

Girls will like the color pink, they will wear dresses. Boys will like blue, they will play sports. This becomes limiting. 

These are the kind of rigid expectations that prevent women from entering traditionally masculine spaces like science or tech. Or halts a man’s ability to be open with his emotions. 

It also creates a wider cultural norm for defining someone else’s gender which inevitably harms those who don’t fit into social binaries. 

LGBTQ youths who grow to question their gender or the norms they are expected to subscribe to often struggle to find their place in a world that associates gender identity with blue or pink icing and smoke signals. 

Transgender and gender-nonconforming youths struggle with depression and suicide ideation in high numbers, likely because of the rigid delineations we create around gender.

But those who report having their pronouns respected by all or most of the people in their lives attempt suicide at half the rate of those whose pronouns were disregarded.

Having a more fluid perspective on gender and allowing children to make their own choices regarding their identity can be life-saving. 

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Even the woman who invented gender reveal parties regrets it.

In 2008, Jenna Karvunidis threw a party to reveal her unborn daughter’s gender by cutting into a pink cake. The event went viral when she wrote a blog post about it. 

Karvunidis is considered to have thrown the first public gender reveal party. However, by the time she had her second and third children, she regretted the concept. 

Karvunidis now considers the parties to be problematic and disagrees with the concept of creating an entire gender identity for a baby who is not yet born. 

She went viral again in 2019 when she asked her Facebook followers, “Who cares what gender the baby is?” 

She followed up with an image of her daughter Bianca wearing a pale blue blazer, writing, “PLOT TWIST, the world’s first gender-reveal party baby is a girl who wears suits!”

Sensible alternatives abound

Karvunidis now acknowledges that, though she never policed her daughter’s gender after birth, those who attach themselves to the idea of defining their child’s gender may also strive to reinforce the restrictive gender norms that Bianca subverts. 

It’s likely that, like Karvunidis, many of the parents throwing these parties don’t intend to limit their child’s personal growth. 

It is, after all, just a party. But something as harmless as a name reveal, a sex reveal that doesn’t rely on gender-normative themes or just a plain old baby shower would celebrate a pregnancy just as well without having the same consequences. 

Just leave the explosives, pyrotechnics, planes, and other potentially dangerous party tricks out of it.

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her Twitter for more.