By Una Dabiero for Fairygodboss
2019 is full of surprises. So many, in fact, it’s now a meme to consider that we all might be living in a broken timeline, a simulation run by an alien teenager or the sick, twisted nightmare of some God floating around somewhere.
But recently, a surprise was put out into the universe that pleasantly surprised the internet. In a Facebook post, Jenna Karvunidis, the woman who is credited with creating gender reveal parties in 2008, said she finds the practice reductive and didn’t realize at the time how harmful a meditation on birth-assigned gender can be. She says the idea spiraled out of control and she wanted to make a statement about it.
“A weird thing came up on Twitter, so I figured I’d share here. Someone remembered it was me who ‘invented’ the gender reveal party. I had written about my party on my blog and a parenting forum in July 2008. It was picked up & and an interview with me was published in The Bump magazine and the idea kinda spread from there.
“Anyway, I’ve felt a lot of mixed feelings about my random contribution to the culture. It just exploded into crazy after that. Literally — guns firing, forest fires, more emphasis on gender than has ever been necessary for a baby,
“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,” she wrote.
She shared that her daughter, the subject of the world’s first gender-reveal party, is a girl who wears suits and attached a family photo. She’s got a point: gender reveal parties are growing in prominence during a time when the merits of the gender binary are being questioned more and more. And while on its face that might seem like a contradiction, it shouldn’t be too shocking in a time marked by reactionary politics and social dissonance. Her call for everyone to critically think about traditions — even the ones we agree with or helped to create — is important. And a viral Twitter thread agreed.
“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”— Avery Alder (@lackingceremony) July 25, 2019
-the inventor of the gender reveal party pic.twitter.com/yQIl5lMjb1
Sharing this not as a dunk, but as a genuinely happy revelation that this person realized that we aren’t served by living in a world with rigid and coercive gender expectations for children, acknowledged her misstep and subsequent learning, and embraced her kid’s self-expression.— Avery Alder (@lackingceremony) July 25, 2019
Whether it will be heeded in 2019? Who knows. But, like the rest of us, she’s trying.
This article originally appeared on Fairygodboss. As the largest career community for women, Fairygodboss provides millions of women with career connections, community advice, and hard-to-find intel about how companies treat women.