At their best, gender reveal parties contribute unnecessary amounts of pollution into the environment and waste a bunch of resources. We’re talking about balloons spat out into the atmosphere, coloured plastic plates that will end up in landfill, or pink or blue confetti left strewn all over the park to face the inevitability of life in the gutter.
At their worst, they’re flat out dangerous and on more than one occasion have even resulted in large-scale environmental devastation or death. No, we’re not exaggerating, people have actually died fairly violent deaths in the pursuit of a dramatic gender reveal.
In September 2020, a couple used a smoke bomb to reveal the gender of their baby. It resulted in the El Dorado fire which burned for 23 days, destroyed five homes and 15 other buildings, injured 13 people, and claimed the life of a firefighter who was battling the blaze.
In November 2019, a plane crashed and injured two people in Texas when it flew too low and stalled in mid-air while dumping 1,300 litres of pink water on partygoers below.
In October 2019, a 56-year-old grandmother from Iowa was killed after being struck by debris from an accidental pipe bomb explosion planned as part of a gender reveal party.
In April 2018, a car doing ‘gender reveal burnouts’ while emitting vibrant blue smoke as part of a gender reveal party on the Gold Coast suddenly burst into flames.
In April 2017, a US border patrol agent sparked a 47,000-acre forest fire in Arizona during his gender reveal moment, and was ordered to pay more than $11.6 million in restitution.
And most recently, on September 5 (one of California’s hottest days) almost 3,000 hectares of land burned in a wildfire as a result of a gender reveal party in San Bernardino County.
Was it worth it? Is it necessary? Does anyone even care?
Chaotic nature of gender reveal parties aside, the ridiculous new tradition is undeniably tone-deaf for the antiquated notions about gender they promote.
Not even the woman credited with ‘inventing’ the gender reveal party in 2008 thinks they have a place in the cultural zeitgeist today. Posting to Facebook in response to the latest wildfire, Jenna Karvunidis says “no one cares”.
“Stop it. Stop having these stupid parties. For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis. No one cares but you.
“This tool thought it would be smart to light a fire about his kid’s dick. Toxic masculinity is men thinking they need to explode something because simply enjoying a baby party is for sissies.”
Though she seemingly brought the gender reveal party to the feeds of people all over the internet, Karvunidis admits she changed her tune after her first-born, the original gender reveal baby, began to identify as non-binary.
“I’ve felt a lot of mixed feelings about my random contribution to the culture. Literally — guns firing, forest fires, more emphasis on gender than has ever been necessary for a baby,” she wrote in a Facebook post previously.
“Who cares what gender the baby is? I did at the time because we didn’t live in 2019 and didn’t know what we know now — that assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what’s between their legs.”
Reiterating her point further in an interview with The Guardian, Karvunidis said: “We should all have enough humanity to realise we don’t have to cause pain for marginalised people to have joy for ourselves,” she explains.
“There are plenty of reasons to eat cake. You can pick one that doesn’t reinforce an attitude of harm toward members of the LGBTQ community.”
Cease and desist, gender reveal parties.