Things to Lose in the New World – Volume III: Gender Reveals

As far as dumb things that have gained traction in our culture, gender reveals have got to be among the dumbest, and most misguided. It’s a relatively new phenomenon, but it’s become very mainstream. Generally, it’s an extravagant, over-the-top party with an elaborately planned stunt to reveal a soon-to-be-born baby’s gender to a crowd of ravenous family members who’ll cheer at anything. I went to one years back, and it was nice, I guess, but it felt like a baby shower in addition to having an actual baby shower. It was confusing. A cake was brought out, cut into, and it was blue on the inside, which meant baby boy. Everyone cheered, and then luckily, we got to eat the cake, it wasn’t just a prop.

            But the gender reveal itself betrays a strange obsession in America: categorizing. The country seems to be obsessed with being able to slap as many labels on a person as humanly possible. In America, we love being able to refer to someone by characteristics they can’t control, and have no bearing on them as a person. The gender reveal, of course, is one of the very first labels applied to a new human being. Labels, as we know, are worthless.

            Gender reveals, as I mentioned, are relatively new. Yes, they’ve been going on for a number of years, but in my lifetime, I can remember the simple “It’s a boy” announcement. I suppose it’s exciting to know the gender of the baby, although that really doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Holding a gender reveal for your upcoming spawn is a strange display. It classifies the kid before they ever have a chance to find out anything about themselves. I’m not arguing that all babies be raised genderless, but I am arguing that the gender reveal be eliminated to stave off future confusion. Generally, the gender is revealed so that the family and friends can go nuts and buy gifts which generally reinforce the age-old gender tropes. The cake is cut, the color is blue, and suddenly the baby has masculine clothes. It’s all so silly.

            I’m not saying that we shouldn’t know the gender of a baby, that seems unnecessarily cryptic. But the stress put on it is just plain foolish. It’s such an unremarkable thing, gender – yes, it’s important, but unremarkable in its impact on a person’s abilities or worth as an individual. To me, having a gender reveal celebration is just as boring as having an eye-color reveal – it does not matter. 

            Would you reveal anything else in this way? You won’t have a race reveal party, that’s absolutely insane. Why are we revealing the gender of a baby, placing undue stress on that? Why are we revealing gender as though we’re revealing a permanent characteristic? It seems to me an immediately outdated tradition that ought to go away. Yes, having a baby is wonderful and exciting. But I’m not sure that it’s so important to celebrate the gender before the child has the brain to understand it. The reveal happens, and then the family begins shaping the child into whatever their version of that gender dictates. 

            Perhaps gender reveals should be held later, once the person in question understands the concept and knows what they are or want to be, at like 30. Maybe we can have gender reveals at any point in life, when you discover just what you’re comfortable being. 

Or maybe, just maybe, gender is only the business of one person: yourself.  And you don’t have to answer to anyone for it. 

Published by Christopher Goodlof

Writer, Visual Artist, Musician

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