Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, I watched my mama lug cases of pampers to her pregnant friends’ baby showers, and as the mid-2010s rolled around, teenage pregnancy in the Black community led me to attend a few baby showers of my own. I found pleasure in our remixed versions of the word scramble games, clothespin game, and balloon baby games. Do not get me started on the food because I LIVE for baby shower food, such as spicy barbecue meatballs, deviled eggs, chicken wings, etc. I completely understand the desire to recreate the celebratory energy and positive vibes that accompany this form of fellowship. There is no harm in memorializing the entire journey of pregnancy. However, I must draw the line at gender reveals.
I challenge people to take a second to consider what gender reveals are actually revealing. We break into “Team Boy” and “Team Girl” only for the winner to be determined by the genitals present on an ultrasound. Our connection that gender equals genitalia is outdated. As much as people hate to admit it, there is life beyond the gender binary (when I say “gender binary,” I am referring to the existence of only two genders: man or woman).
Binary norms subtly tell little girls they must be pretty and that little boys must be tough. Pink is for girls, and blue is for boys. When did we start gendering colors? Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with a pretty girl or a tough boy. The issue is when there are consequences (positive or negative) for not fitting the stereotypes. Parents celebrate their daughters for leaning towards typical “girl things,” but what does this mean for the young vagina carriers that want to wrestle or play football? As a society, I believe it is fair to say gender is far more than the anatomical features we often associate; it is an identity. Rather than argue the common binary belief, I’ll make my way off of my soapbox stating this: an individual’s existence is not up for debate, and no level of education or life experience qualifies us to say otherwise. Now, these gender reveals.
My most immense grief with gender reveals is the harmful displays of disappointment when/if the child “is not” the desired “gender” that adds insult to injury. These recorded clips become public parental tantrums that may cause feelings of guilt, isolation, and fear as the child begins exploring their sexuality. Let us look at this from a different angle. I have witnessed children force themselves to play specific sports because that’s what their parents wanted, and this sometimes spirals into choosing particular career fields to satisfy pushy parents as well. How many people do you know have felt guilted into behaving a certain way because they wanted to make their parents proud?
Though unintentional, the dramatic breakdowns and temper tantrums sometimes displayed at gender reveals are more profound than an emotional outburst. It is already letting the child know that they do not meet expectations. I encourage people to embrace genital reveals instead, potentially a penis or pussy party! This simple shift in language and expectations can help create spaces that celebrate an individual for being an individual without society’s added pressure. Changing norms may be a stretch, but so was the idea of having a Black president or legalizing homosexual marriages, and we did that. As Whitney Houston sang in the ONLY Cinderella I know (Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella), Impossible things are happening every day.