A couple stands over a cake and each announces their guess for what it will reveal. “Girl,” the father says confidently and, perhaps, resignedly. “Boy,” the mother declares hopefully; doubtfully. They cut into the cake and, as large, pink nonpareils emerged, they laugh and she looks at him almost apologetically. Another girl. Sigh.
Growing up at the fourth daughter in a family with just four daughters, I heard the jokes repeatedly. I felt the jokes too. Can you imagine my parents disappointment? Why couldn’t they make boys? Who would grow up to be like Dad? How could he bear to be surrounded by so much estrogen?
The opposite happens, of course. Women proudly wear “boy mom” t-shirts and must long for a girl to dress up. People ask her if she will “keep trying” until she “gets her girl.”
We have this odd obsession with sex from before a child even fully forms. And we traditionally conflate sex and gender into one meaning from the beginning, too, creating rigid expectations of children.
Society is more open to new definitions of gender and gender representation that allow for people to be more authentic. But, deep down, many of us still expect babies to emerge distinctly pink and blue with special boy/girl ways of crying, sleeping, playing, and babying. I know I did the first time.
So, what am I saying? Are there not differences? Do sex and gender not matter? I do write for a blog highlighting women’s voices.
As long as social constructs remain and divide us (some focused on biological differences) then, yes, they do matter. But what I once understood as a difference of gender, I am learning is a difference of biological sex. With this is mind, we are having “biological sex reveal” parties, not “gender reveal” parties.
This is so significant because gender is far more colorful than blue and pink. (Biological Sex is too, actually). Our traditional ways of splitting up people by biological sex in and out of the church make far less sense when we move away from these rigid, outdated definitions of blue/pink and look at the beautiful and diverse ways to be masculine/feminine and male/female.
I don’t pretend to know or believe that church structures are going to change in regard to grouping people by biological male and female. I do, however, want to encourage new parents to think beyond the “gender reveal” to make the church healthier and safer for everyone who attends.
As a new and experienced mom, I soon found that babies were just babies. They challenged stereotypes. Boys are sensitive and nurturing. Girls are rowdy and dirty. Kids are little, unique people born without any preconceived notions of what they “should” be based on their biological sex. And, frankly, it’s awesome.
And I’m not saying don’t have trucks or dolls. I’m saying have trucks and dolls and let them show you who they are. It may be more traditionally, culturally pink or blue and it may not be. Either way, it’s beautiful. And parents who view this as healthy help their children see that it’s beautiful too. Then, the world, and the church, will be safer and healthier as well.
5 Things to Do Instead of a Gender Reveal Party:
- Favorite Children’s Book Party
- Name Suggestion Party
- “We’re Expecting!” Party
- Guess the Due Date Party
- Welcome to the Family Party