Townsville Bulletin - Townsville Eye - - Heckon - WO R D S : S U S I E O ’ B R I E N

IF YOU’RE feel­ing the need to re­veal the gen­der of your un­born child in an ec­cen­tric and cre­ative way, make sure you’ve got emer­gency ser­vices as a backup.

Re­cently a car caught fire do­ing a burnout at a baby shower. The burnout was the gen­der re­veal: the smoke was pink. I won­der whether these bo­gan pro­cre­ators were in­spired by an in­cen­di­ary gen­der re­veal party in Ari­zona that caused a bush­fire that spread over 19,000ha and cost more than $15 mil­lion. The fire raged for six days and took 800 fire fight­ers to con­tain. I’ll bet the dad-to-be wished he’d bought a doo­dle cake in­stead. (Yes, sadly, this is a thing.)

Any­one who’s been keep­ing up with the cur­rent push for ex­pec­tant par­ents to find unique ways to share a baby’s gen­der with friends, fam­ily and sib­lings wouldn’t be sur­prised.These days, hand­ing around a photo of a grainy ul­tra­sound with the rel­e­vant bits cir­cled in texta doesn’t cut it.

The ul­ti­mate gen­der re­veal is sup­posed be a sur­prise to the par­ents as well. In the US par­ents get the sono­g­ra­pher to write boy or girl on a bit of pa­per, which is then sealed. It’s given to a baker who makes a cake which is neu­tral on the out­side and has ei­ther pink or blue on the in­side, and then cut open in front of fam­ily at a party.

So much ex­cite­ment, so much fun and so many iPhone videos cel­e­brat­ing some­thing that’s the size of a dim­ple on a grape­fruit.

Some go even fur­ther. Singer and ac­tor Hi­lary Duff an­nounced the gen­der of her sec­ond child by re­leas­ing can­nons filled with pink con­fetti, while oth­ers have in­cor­po­rated pet al­li­ga­tors and fire­works into the big rev­e­la­tion.

The real ques­tion is not pink or blue, as far as I am con­cerned. The real ques­tion is WHY? Let’s face it. These par­ties – even the sweet and bor­ing ones rather than those vis­ited by fire brigades – are an ex­er­cise in self-ab­sorp­tion with a side or­der of ram­pant in­di­vid­u­al­ism. I’d pre­fer to squeeze my kids’ black­heads than spend an af­ter­noon pin­ning a pe­nis on a foe­tus be­fore watch­ing peo­ple cry while cut­ting open a cake.

In­ter­est­ingly, these grand gen­der an­nounce­ments – which are more about the amaz­ing fe­cun­dity of the par­ents rather than the un­born child – fly in the face of the cur­rent gen­der-neu­tral push.

There are now gen­der-free birth cer­tifi­cates, gen­der-free toy aisles and some kinder­gartens have banned any divi­sion of kids in gen­der terms at all.

Some par­ents are even rais­ing their kids in a gen­der-neu­tral way and in­sist­ing they can wear and play with what­ever they like.

And don’t for­get about No Gen­der De­cem­ber, where par­ents were urged to “buy a boy a Bar­bie”. It’s a lost cause, as far as I am con­cerned. As one mother of boys once said, “You can lead a boy to Bar­bie but you can’t make him pink”.

My ob­jec­tion to gen­der re­veal par­ties has noth­ing to do with the pre­ma­ture stamp­ing of a bi­nary gen­der iden­tity onto an un­born child. Rather, I think it’s bor­ing and self-in­dul­gent. I’ve got two boys and a girl, but I haven’t once put a pair of colour-ap­pro­pri­ate bootees on Face­book.

Our grand gen­der re­veal took place in a ster­ile of­fice with a ra­dio­g­ra­pher telling us at the 20-week mark of my preg­nancy what we were hav­ing. I wad­dled to the car, got in and went home. No cakes. No burnouts. No wild­fires. No in­sur­ance claims.

I wouldn’t have ever ex­pected my friends to spend five hours cel­e­brat­ing the sex­ual char­ac­ter­is­tics of my un­born off­spring. Watch­ing a video of the con­cep­tion? Maybe.

The gen­der re­veal? Def­i­nitely not.

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