Gender REVEALS and the Harmful Binary

The gender reveals party community has completely engrossed our modern society. It has come down to the degree of environmental and physical harm. All this occurs for announcing a baby’s sex, not gender. Our culture is deeply entwined with the concept of gender because it determines treatment, assumes likes and dislikes, and highlights a societal desire for a gender binary.

It is not unknown that the treatment between males and females is vastly different. Many expectant parents want to know a baby’s gender because they believe prenatal sex is an early indicator of a child’s trajectory. There is an assumption that the sex of a child will predict the character of the child. Character and personality development with time and exposure but many who are into the idea of gender reveal think that knowing the sex means that they can mentally map out their child’s entire life.

Simply looking at the market of highly gendered baby clothes that proclaim sayings like “daddy’s little girl” or “mommy’s new man”. These pieces of clothing are solely based on a baby’s sex and people want to know the sex of their baby so that they too can purchase these pieces. Not to mention they are icky. Our culture is obsessed with highly gendered items so that we can ensure that any stranger passing by will know what genitalia someone’s child possesses.

Babies are the most ambiguous beings when it comes to physical attributes indicating sex. After birth, mothers who opt to find out after birth sit and wait to be told the exciting news of the gender of their child. They can not visually differentiate between the two gender norms but it is still news that they are dying to know. They sit there holding their child and envision the entire life of the child based on their expectations of gender.

Along with the many videos of overjoyed expecting parents, there are an unreal amount of videos with a parent or young future siblings showing their anger towards a certain outcome. In the reading, it is pointed out that “pregnancy is such a strange state of being with an unbelievable unpredictable and any piece of the future that one and hold on to will be appealing. When that glimpse points out a non-desired result, we can see that it is about societal expectations of gender.

I have seen countless videos of soon-to-be fathers losing their cool when finding out that they have a daughter. It shows a general disdain for the opposite gender. The biggest proponent of this is that the cultural expectations of gender place a divide between the two commonly recognized binaries. Many fathers want a son that they can watch sports with and many mothers want daughters that they can dress up. Because our society presets these gender roles, there is a heightened tension to reveal which sex they will end up with. Preparing nurseries and baby clothes that push the narrative of gender that the parent desires for their child are the goal. It is considered almost a rite of passage for parents to dictate the gender of their baby. The obsession with a baby’s gender is a way of securing their understanding of the relationship they will have with their child, not based on personal qualities, but a random factor.

With time the recognition of gender as a spectrum and social construct, people still feel that perceptions solely make connections of gender. The emphasis that communities place on sex and gender can limit us to a binary that does not include or represent all people. While society has become slightly more welcoming to those who are non-binary, the genderedness of pregnancy and babies will never change. As we grow, we are able to become who we want to be. Babies do not have that free will. They are subjected to the expectations around being male or female. This can inhibit one’s gender identity and gender expression. Both of those things help a person become comfortable with themselves.

Culture loves division and categories; learning of a gender of a baby places them into a category that alters how they will be treated for the rest of their life. It stems from discomfort with the unknown. Expecting parents hearing the sex of their child will know pretty well how that child will be treated for the rest of their life. The obsession with identifying the sex and gender of a baby has to do with predictions of the future and how they will treat the child growing up through life.

If you want to throw a gender reveal party, feel free. But, there needs to be a more conscious awareness of the reactions and expectations that occur once the sex of the baby is revealed. Gender reveals seem harmless but the subjugation that it leads to for many can have long-lasting and severe effects.

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