The tradition of baby showers, which actually originated in the U.S., has taken over the world and it is no longer unusual to see pictures of baby showers on Instagram in Turkey. Worldwide, expecting parents who want to share their joy and excitement organize gatherings with their friends and family to celebrate the new life. Though baby showers are still around, they have more recently been overshadowed by a new trend - gender reveal parties.
Gender reveal parties are one of the hottest trends for today's parents to-be. They have been going on for a decade or so, but in case you are unfamiliar with the concept, gender reveal parties are thrown by expecting parents for friends and family to celebrate the upcoming birth as well as to "reveal" the baby's gender with grand flourish.
However, the term "gender reveal" is a misnomer, as all available tests measure the child's sex, which is to say, chromosomal or physical characteristics, rather than gender, which is believed to be an acquired social identity. Nonetheless, this error has not stopped expecting parents from celebrating their baby with loved ones.
Generally, the whole process begins with the couple scheduling an ultrasound to determine the baby's biological sex. Some parents want to know at this point, others do not. If they want to be surprised with the party guests, the ultrasound technician writes the baby's sex on a piece of paper and seals it in an envelope. From there, the envelope and its secret are sent to the appropriate professional. Sometimes couples opt to release bundles of pink or blue balloons from a plain cardboard box on the front lawn. Other times, the secret is sent to a baker who uses it to create a pink or blue cake hidden beneath piped white frosting. Or it may be given to a sales associate assigned to pick out a gender-specific baby outfit to package for the couple to open at the party while their guests look on.
Most gender reveal parties have a certain theme, mostly depending on the time of year. To go with the chosen theme, expecting parents decide on the food and party games, which are the heart of any gender reveal party. Choosing games that allow guests to interact with each other is the best way to go. If you want to reveal the sex of your baby without using cupcakes or cake, adding games with small prizes can also be an option. Some couples include a slip of paper in one of the prize boxes that reveals the secret by chance.
Gender reveal parties have become popular in Istanbul, as well. Many event planners and companies now offer gender reveal party planning for expecting parents.
A Word of Caution
The word "gender" is often used to imply a person's biological sex. However, they are in fact two different words. While, gender describes the characteristics that a society or culture dictates as masculine or feminine, sex, on the other hand, refers to biological differences, chromosomes and hormonal profiles.
Assumptions can have disastrous
results. The first assumption in this case lies in the name "gender reveal party" because you are not revealing the baby's gender, but its biological sex - a concept separate from and independent of gender. Gender studies have indicated that children will reveal their own gender identity at some point along the way, whether it is cisgender, gender non-conforming, gender-creative, agender, gender-fluid or genderqueer. It also is important to point out that gender is also completely separate from romantic or sexual attraction. Those are just three of many varying factors that make up a human being, none of which are strictly binary, despite what we may have been brought up to believe.
Although this tradition is very popular, it introduces moral questions, as well. Children do not have to be brought up within the frame of a certain socially constructed "gender."
No one is asking you to get rid of your "guns or glitter" altogether. What we are asking is, if you do partake in the manufactured custom of a biological sex reveal party, that you proceed with caution. Please accept that your daughter may refuse to wear glitter and bows, or that your son may not like trucks and guns. This is ok. This is healthy. What is not healthy is pushing our stereotypical, self-indulgent, outdated or narrow version of what is acceptable on a child who is still developing in the womb. Because no matter how hard you try, your children will, at least once, do the exact opposite of what you were expecting.Are assumptions worth celebrating? How about we instead alter the dialogue? Babies are worth celebrating. The creation of new life is worth celebrating. Birth is worth celebrating. But if you want to celebrate biological sex before the baby is born alive and well or able to speak for itself, go for it. Just be kind to yourself, allow some wiggle room and try to remember what ultimately happens when we make assumptions.
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