In the quest for the Holy Grail of modern times – the viral video is bringing intimate moments to the world. The newest party occasion ‘the gender reveal’ is now sweeping the online world.
It is estimated that there are currently around 500,000 videos on Youtube of people revealing whether their baby is a boy or a girl. They use everything and anything, from cakes and smoke bombs to piñatas and balloons.
When Isabella Solis and her wife were doing their gender reveal party back in the fall of 2015, they decided they wanted to spice things up. They weren’t expecting multiple babies, but they wanted to keep their family on their toes.
The pair set up 10 balloons for their family to pop and said that one of the balloons held colored pieces of paper – pink or blue – that would reveal the gender. Their family popped balloon after balloon; by the tenth one, no gender had been revealed. That’s when they pulled out an 11th balloon, which they popped together to reveal they were having a son!
Is this trend here to stay, but more importantly, is it ethical?
In a USA Today article from the 12th of March, journalist Josh Hafner has pointed out the contradiction of the popularity of the gender reveal in a time where the idea of gender fluidity – about identities beyond the binary – is present in mainstream culture more than ever.
Is it not strange to limit a baby’s identity to pink or blue pieces of paper when Tinder’s 2016 update included 37 gender identity options? A fashion model revealed she’s intersex and a transgender boy just won a girls wrestling title. These are changing times.
Carly Gieseler, an assistant professor at City University of New York, claims that gender reveal parties celebrate a trait that, for some babies, isn’t known until later. Gieseler has researched the evolution of gender reveal parties from intimate family moments to publicized parties broadcast online.
“If you’re cutting away all the possibilities of gender and restricting it to just two biological categories, you’re neglecting entire populations of people who may not fit into either,” the assistant professor says.
In the case of Isabella Solis and her wife – a gay couple – such simplification is all the more inexplicable.
Freelance writer Rhiannon Giles, who herself staged a gender reveal for one of her children, probably bared the concept to its crudest skeleton, when she said ‘what’s revealed is the child’s sex, not gender.’
“I imagine the ‘gender reveal’ party is a bit of a fad that will fade in and out of popularity on its own,” Giles said. “In the meantime, I hope the emphasis on these parties will lead to better education and understanding, rather than further increasing a gender divide.”