Opinion

Gender Reveal Party: What color is your baby's cake? | Johnson

There’s a disturbing new trend out there for expectant parents: the Gender Reveal Party.

At these events, parents gather with family and friends for a party and a piece of cake — a cake that has been secretly baked by a local baker who has been given a sealed envelope from the mom’s doctor’s office that reveals the baby’s gender.

The bakery then bakes a color-coded cake, with frosting to conceal the inner cake color. At the party, parents cut the cake and “reveal the gender” of their unborn child.

Sigh.

I know people say it’s all in good fun, but it bugs me. First of all, the fact that we’ve so thoroughly color-coded gender in our society is troubling.

Along with those colors go stereotypes. In our country, girls are pink, symbolizing sugar, spice, everything nice, and princesses who are often in some sort of distress.

Boys get blue, which comes with snakes, snails, puppy dog tails, no crying, and taking it like a man.

Girls are complimented on their looks and clothes, while boys are complimented on their strength, brains and construction abilities.

Eating disorders are out of control with young girls, and boys increasingly use steroids to have bigger muscles. An East Coast salon chain offered 50 percent off waxing services for girls 15 and under, while Old Spice finds new ways to scold men who wear “lady-scented body wash.”

And it all starts with that seemingly innocent pink and blue.

While it can be healthy and typical to relate to one’s gender, bond over it, and mentor others about it, the whole color thing sets us up to focus on differences, stereotypes and judgments about each other.

It sets us up to perpetuate subtle sexism and pigeon-hole people into gender roles. It supports misogyny by making little boys and their parents afraid of pink — afraid that it’s too “girly.” Whatever “girly” means to you in that context, you can be sure it’s not something desirable, or we wouldn’t fear it for our sons.

In addition, when I heard about this “gender reveal” trend, I found myself empathizing with all the parents who give birth to intersex children — those with ambiguous genitalia, a chromosomal abnormality, or hormonal challenges.

The most recent statistics on this topic in our country are that approximately one percent of all births — that’s one in 100 — include some sort of sexual ambiguity or abnormality.

By focusing on fitting our children into pretty pink and handsome blue boxes, or cakes, we leave out a whole percentage point of babies born.

“So?” you may say. “That’s such a small percentage. What’s the harm?”

Consider that percentage is approximately the same number of folks in North America who are born Jewish, or with red hair, or with Down syndrome. Imagine the uproar if there were an increasing trend for parties that intentionally left out any of those people groups.

And what about people who just don’t solidly fit or even want to fit into one pink or blue category? What about people who are more … purple? What is our obsession with insisting our biology determines our lot in life?

Come on, people. Pink and blue is so last century. Why spend so much time and energy creating an unrealistic, stereotypical box for your child to fit into, even before birth?

Celebrate the arrival of your child with family, friends and a rainbow of colors that are inclusive to all.

 

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