Gender Reveals are Damaging to Children and Society – Liberal Article
Beyond causing countless, sometimes fatal, accidents and starting a new bout of wildfires, gender reveals are endangering the progress of feminists and queer activists as well as the lives of children.
That the gender of a baby is enough to warrant a party really does not sit well with me. The two most cohesive arguments I can make for why this is are as follows:
Gender reveals reinforce the sex/gender equation
What people are actually celebrating is the baby’s sex, not their gender. One of the benefits of the English language is that we have the linguistic tools to distinguish between sex and gender. In gender-theory literature, sex has traditionally been distinguished as male or female, whereas gender has been man or woman.
Sex is determined by your biological features. It can be considered medical, as there are physiological and genetic differences between males and females, such as XY and XX chromosomes. (This is an oversimplification as there are those who are born intersex, but again this can be viewed as a medical classification). This is what a pre-birth scan will show, and so really a gender reveal is actually a sex reveal, although rebranding it as such might take some convincing.
Gender is more nuanced than sex. Gender is your expression based on moulds cast by society. It is conscious and subconscious actions you take based on what you have been taught. Society has dictated what it means to be a man or a woman.
The gender binary is such that expression outside the binary invites stereotypes and prejudice. As someone who is a male and identifies as a man, I adopt the expectations that society has for a man. A gender binary society says I should be strong, assertive, sporty, funny. Features that, according to this society, would work against me if I was a woman. And features that, if I was assigned-male-at-birth but identified as a woman, would undermine my legitimate claim to be a woman in the eyes of society.
Your sex does not predetermine your gender. Your choices reflect your unique personal identity which society has tried to coral into discrete conceptions that mirror sex. Yes, on the whole, more people who are males display certain personality traits, as do females. But, like any statistical distribution, there is a spread. There are many women in this world who would make a better ‘man’ than me based on society’s expectations. Just because you have the bits, doesn’t mean you are destined to fit.
They also reiterate sex being predeterminate of character
Gender reveals are the first in a host of conditioning we inflict on children. Why does it matter if your child is male or female? Most likely, it stems from your expectations of what each of those labels will mean.
There is an episode of Friends where Ben, Ross’s son, plays with a doll. Ross’s unhappiness is the comedic driver of the episode with him trying tirelessly to get Ben to play with a ‘boys’ toy. Why does he care so much that he plays with a ‘boys’ toy? How can one toy explicitly be for boys and another for girls? Why does transgressing this norm imply you’re a homosexual, and why does Ross see this as a problem?
By labelling toys and clothing as boys and girls, we stigmatise those who digress these norms. I was ashamed and embarrassed for a long time for having an extensive Polly Pocket collection growing up. But why? They are just toys?
I was ashamed because I was taught to be ashamed. Because what I was doing was out of character for a boy. This might seem like a trivial example, but if this effect can be so explicit, imagine how implicit it is. How many young girls have been discouraged from pursuing careers in science or sports or politics because it is out of character? How many young children who do not neatly fit into society’s norms have been forced to disown parts of their personality for the sake of fitting in?
It should not take courage to be true to who you are. More importantly, it should not be someone else’s decision who you are. The allocation of gender – before the child has even taken a breath – reinforces the gender binary and the negative impacts it enforces. Hopefully, this is a trend that we will look back on with regret. It should not matter the gender or sex of your child. And if it does, you should really question why.
Written by Junior Liberal writer, Daniel Jones
Point of Information
Gender reveals reinforce stereotypes we should try to eradicate as a society – a Conservative Response
I am very happy that Daniel has written this article. When discussed in contemporary news and debates, the focus of gender reveals is pinned on the recent physical dangers of them – primarily the Californian wildfires. However, our attention should also be shifted to the psychological dangers of them.
Stereotypical gender reveals see the attendees wearing either blue or pink, to guess the sex of the baby, with various blue and pink décor. The event usually concludes in some grand reveal of the gender, sometimes using a cake, a cannon, confetti. Revealed is either blue or pink, girl or boy.
Using this binary of colours subjects the child to enforced gender norms before they have even been born. This gendering of colour enforces unnecessary ideas of what male and female are. As Daniel correctly highlights, gender is determined by the individual, these parties merely reveal the physical sex of the child; something that has nothing to do with the colours pink and blue.
Not only do these parties present psychological dangers, but there have also been numerous physical dangers presented as a result of them, with many people losing their lives to put on a more extravagant party. In Iowa, a woman was killed when a homemade device designed to produce coloured smoke exploded like a pipe bomb. In Louisiana, a gender reveal sparked animal abuse controversy online as a couple fed their pet alligator a watermelon filled with coloured jelly for the reveal.
Finding out a baby’s sex is exciting for friends and family and deserves to be celebrated. However, what was once a private and intimate celebration has gone to the extremes. Gender reveals reflect the way society can make such personal matters heavily materialistic and over the top.
Not only have they cost lives and presented physical danger, by having a gender reveal parents are already subjecting their child to dangerous norms we as a society should be trying to move away from.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Emer Kelly
Gender reveals represent the damaging and detrimental gender conceptions of our society – a Labour Response
Daniel’s article is very powerful and echoes many of the misgivings I have about gender reveals myself. As argued, gender reveals are dangerous and damaging. Not the colours themselves of course, but what they imply and represent.
Finding out the sex of your child is a wonderfully exciting time for parents but taking it further and assigning gender before the child is even born, is the first detrimental step. From this point, that child, most likely, will be confined to that gender and all its restrictions will be imposed upon them.
‘Boys’ will get trucks whilst ‘girls’ will be given Barbies, and both will be told there is to be no switching of the two. ‘Boys’ will be told they can’t cry, that it makes them look weak and feminine. ‘Girls’ won’t be encouraged to go into science or engineering but instead should focus on their appearance and demeanour.
Commonly and incorrectly, it is believed that this argument stems from “indoctrination” by a “radical transgender campaign”. This is false and incredibly transphobic. Everyone in society, no matter how they identify, constantly battles against conceptions of gender and the ideals that are associated with masculinity and femininity.
These social constructs are limiting and restrictive, causing serious social problems. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. 50% of mental health problems are established before the age of 14. 41% of non-binary people harmed themselves in 2017-8. This is clear evidence that not only are these concepts ignorant and damaging but that they are killing people every day in the UK.
Can you imagine if the trans community hosted parties that caused wildfires, blew up cars, and resulted in fatalities? Outrage does not even cover the reaction that would occur.
We’ve already seen the reaction to the encouragement of using gender-neutral language in schools. In 2017, Natasha Devon MBE discussed the importance of avoiding generalising gender in schools to promote better student mental health. What was the reaction to this? Piers Morgan attacked Devon, stating she was, “confusing children with all this gender claptrap”. She also received threats of death and sexual assault. Tabloids and newspapers twisted and misconstrued her words, claiming she said female students should not be called ‘girls’ or ‘ladies’ because it reminds them of their gender.
The same happened with headteacher, Sally-Anne Huang, who started using ‘pupils’ rather than ‘girls’ to be more sensitive to students querying their gender identity. Once again, the media misrepresented her argument, with the Times claiming she said: “my girls are not girls”.
Attitudes in societies around the world are limiting, dangerous, and seriously detrimental to the wellbeing of our populations. Quite simply, people should focus far more on ensuring they give others the best chance to be themselves, providing love and support along the way.
I doubt many parents consider this ‘dark side’ of gender reveals but I hope this opinion will become more widespread. Similarly, I hope that society’s attitudes of gender and sex will change so that we can all live in a more accepting and considerate world.
Written by Junior Labour Writer, Zoë Olsen-Groome
I’m a queer loving feminist liberal, enough to make a hard-line conservative have an aneurism. I have been forced to this position having grown up witnessing and experiencing injustice first-hand. Politics sort of came to me, which it does if you are anything but a cis-white-heterosexual man. My life and the way I wanted to live it was unavoidably political, so I may as well get involved.
I am currently in my second year at the University of Exeter studying Politics. It was as a young child going to visit my family in Northern Ireland that I unknowingly had my first interactions with politics.
I have just graduated with a History degree from the University of Exeter and am about to start my Masters there in Conflict, Security, and Development. I will also be taking on the roles of Welfare Officer in the Politics Society and Vice-President for Coppafeel’s Exeter Uni Boob Team.