Gender reveal parties: why are they controversial?

The arrival of a baby is a long-awaited event in the family, so the announcement about whether it will be a girl or a boy has become a reason for celebration. Gender reveal parties have become viral but at the same time controversial.

Social networks have been filled with photos of pink and blue balloons and confetti, announcing whether a baby will be a girl or a boy. Still, Internet users have expressed their discontent with these parties, arguing that gender stereotypes are reproduced.

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What is gender?

The anthropologist Marta Lamas defines gender as “the set of ideas, representations, practices and social prescriptions that a culture develops from the anatomical difference between women and men to symbolize and socially construct what is “proper” to men (the masculine) and “proper” to women (the feminine).

While the National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence Against Women (Conavim) points out that gender refers to “the social attributes and opportunities associated with being a man or a woman, and the relationships between women and men, girls and boys”.

While sex is defined as “the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women”.

Once the above is understood, let’s analyze why they are causing so much controversy. The debate focuses on whether it is necessary to give so much importance to the gender of the baby and thus feed the preconceived ideas that exist in society on the subject.

Gender reveal parties: a decision of the couple

Marisol Pérez Ramos, an academic from the Department of Sociology at the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM), pointed out that holding a party to reveal the baby’s gender is a decision for each couple.

She considered that the discussion should focus on parenting practices that maintain gender roles, thus limiting the development of activities to children, believing them to be for girls or boys.

“It is a fantasy of the parents, there is a lot of questioning about these parties not being held, or if they are, that is a decision of each couple, even if they know that it is a boy or a girl, the issue is how you raise them”.

The academic commented that the discussion should focus on the roles that society establishes regarding expectations about the behavior of girls and boys because they contribute to the prevalence of inequality between men and women.

The discussion has to do with gender roles, it has to do with the parts that are socially established, gender revelations have no implication; what has importance is how we raise through functions, the role is what determines you, yes I’m a woman I can’t play with toy cars, or I can’t like dinosaurs; or if it is a boy, he may not like dolls or kitchen games, that is what needs to be changed.

Origin of gender reveal parties

Although these events are recent in Mexico, they have been held in the United States for just over ten years. The blogger and YouTuber Jenna Karvunidis says she is the creator of this type of party since, in 2008, she announced with a pink cake to her family that the baby she was expecting would be a girl.

Since then, piñatas, balloons, fireworks, and other elements have been added to these parties to determine whether the new family member will be a boy or a girl.

Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara