The Problem With Harry Kane’s Gender Reveal Party

It’s 2020 – are we really still doing this?

the-problem-with-gender-reveal-parties

by Anna Silverman |

The video starts with Harry Kane, his wife Katie and their two young daughters standing on a football pitch holding a bunch of pink and blue balloons. Then, in slow motion, Harry walks towards the net as emotive piano music twinkles to add to the suspense... he kicks the ball and – POW – a balloon in the net explodes in a puff of blue dust. ‘IT’S A BOOOOY!’.

This is how the England captain shared the news that he was having a son on social media yesterday. But, as much as a new baby is a milestone to be celebrated, are we really still doing gender reveal parties in 2020?

For those lucky enough to have avoided them until now, gender reveal parties are one of the sickeningly twee imports from America - along with baby showers - that we stole and really should give back. They are the celebration where expectant parents discover whether they are having a boy or girl, usually by cutting into a cake or popping a balloon to reveal pink or blue inside. Then, everyone cries/hugs/exclaims they 'just can’t believe’ it turned out to be one of the two possible options!!

This is all done in front of the trusty glare of a handful of Smartphone cameras, because, really, this is about social media fodder, showing off and 'likes'. But gender reveal parties perpetuate dangerous stereotypes: the idea that ‘girl’ equals pink princess and ‘boy’ equals blue Action Man is so outdated it’s almost too obvious to state.

The risk that comes with these labels is that they can lead to children assuming there is only one direction for them in life - that a boy should be everything that comes with being ‘blue’, which is to be ‘macho’, that he should suppress his emotions and never cry and that he has no choice but to go into traditionally ‘manly’ areas of work.

Similarly, it can be harmful for girls and lead them to think they have to be everything the colour 'pink' represents: pretty, a princess, feminine; that they will go into more ‘womanly’ work, rather than science or maths based careers that are considered more traditionally male. On top of this, we're attaching these labels to a child before they have even entered the world.

This is not to say Harry Kane and his wife will force their children to conform to these stereotypes; a criticism of gender reveal parties doesn’t have to be a judgement of one’s parenting. People should be free to parent as they like. But it’s hard to see how these archaic labels will fade when England’s captain is still sharing news that he is having a boy in this way.

Our obsession with gender is not only restrictive, it can be exclusionary if we take into account the fact a number of people don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. According to Stonewall, a charity which campaigns for the rights of LGBT+ people, there are around 600,000 trans and non-binary people in Britain alone.

Just yesterday it was reported that a mother in Ohio in the US threw a gender reveal party for her 17-year-old transgender son saying that she and her partner ‘got it wrong 17 years ago’ when they announced they were having a baby girl. (Although, it clearly didn’t put them off the idea of throwing another gender reveal party).

Even Jenna Karvunidis, the woman who founded the trend, has since talked about her ‘mixed feelings’ towards them. She threw a party in 2008 and announced her daughter's sex by cutting into a cake filled with pink icing. She wrote about it on her blog and it went viral - gender reveal parties were born. Now, that 11-year-old wears suits and has a short haircut and Jenna says her own perspective on gender identity has changed. ‘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 has said.

So Harry, as cute as it was to watch your family celebrate the lovely news of having another child on the way, we’re better than gender reveal parties in 2020, aren’t we?

Instead of rushing to put our child in a box in front of hundreds of followers (or in Harry’s case 2.9 million) before the foetus has even fully formed, let’s think more about how we’re going to teach our offspring that labels don’t matter as much anymore.

Life After Lockdown

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The Cafe du Soleil sets up igloos outside for its diners to allow for social distancing.

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Sara, who has just given birth to baby Olivia, wears a protective mask as father Angelo takes a picture of his new daughter through a glass wall.

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Students exercise outside as they return to school on 15 May.

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A dental hygienist wearing PPE welcomes patient at a dentist's office in Krakow on 15 May.

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Social distancing circles are used at Domino Park in Brooklyn, New York on 15 May.

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Social distancing markers are displayed at a train station in Johannesburg, South Africa on 4 May.

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Martyn Weatherill, principal of Laingholm Primary School in Auckland, hosts an online assembly with students in their classrooms on the first day back to school on 18 May.

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Bayern Munich substitutes wear protective face masks and maintain social distance in the stands during the Bundesliga match between 1. FC Union Berlin and FC Bayern Muenchen at Stadion An der Alten Foersterei on 17 May. The Bundesliga and Second Bundesliga is the first professional league to resume the season after the nationwide lockdown; all matches until the end of the season will be played behind closed doors.

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A sink in a public toilet is blocked off in an attempt to promote social distancing.

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An empty Waterloo station shows a sign encouraging social distancing on 18 May.

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A temporary tent encampment for the homeless with tents at an acceptable distance from each other is opened in San Francisco.

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Markings are placed on the floor at a primary school in Berlin as primary school pupils and tenth graders began returning to school.

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A sign at the entrance to the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Krakow reads, 'Do Not Enter Without A Mask' and 'Keep A Safe Distance.'

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Gare de nord station in Paris has marks on the ground to show the appropriate social distance between people.

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A zebra crossing sports a sign that recommends keeping two meters away from other people on the first day that Granada begins Phase 1 of progressive return to normal life on 18 May.

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Beachgoers enjoy the sun and sand at Anavisos beach on 16 May as organised beaches are allowed to be reopened in Greece.

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Hairdressers wash customer's hair on 2 May 2020 in Innsbruck, Austria after hair salons and barber shops reopen after a seven-week lockdown. Customers and employees must wear masks and have to keep as much distance as possible.

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A young girl wearing a mask plays on the playground during the first day of school on 5 May 2020 after over a month and a half that schools were closed.

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A doctor from the state health sector speaks to a federal police officer who is supervising the information to prevent contagion amid the COVID-19 pandemic at Hermosillo International Airport on 2 May 2020. Hermosillo International Airport is operating normally while taking preventive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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Demonstrators in Venice asks for the restrictions around bars, restaurants and other commercial activities be lifted on 4 May 2020.

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Shanghai Disneyland utilises 'social Distancing' queues for its reopening on 4 May 2020.

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Janine Scholz and Philip Scholz are married in a wedding ceremony at the Autokino Dusseldorf drive-in cinema on 5 May 2020. A total of three couples are marrying at the drive-in with friends and family members allowed to attend in their cars.

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Churchgoers arrive Frauenkirche 'Cathedral of Our Lady' cathedral for evening mass on the first day churches and other houses of worship are allowed to hold services again in Bavaria since March on 4 May 2020.

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Visitors, only some of whom are wearing face masks, wait to enter the Zwinger palace complex as a poster showing Adam and Eve wearing masks hangs at the entrance on the first day the palace reopened to the public.

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A commuters, wearing protective face masks, sits on a bus on 4 May 2020.

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People watch the sunset at La Barceloneta Beach on 2 May 2020. In Spain, lockdown measures have continued to ease and walking with family members and outdoor exercise is now permitted from 6-10am and from 8-11pm.

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Year 3 children return to school for the fist time in over a month and a half on 5 May 2020 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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A family receives a delivery of beer from the Six Harbors Brewery, who have trained their two golden retrievers, Buddy and Barley, to deliver beer to customers during the pandemic.

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Jose Morales sanitizes buckets of golf balls at the Miami Beach Golf Club on 29 April 2020 as the city of Miami Beach partially reopens parks and facilities including golf courses, tennis courts and marinas.

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Surfers prepare to enter the water at Bondi Beach on 3 May 2020. Currently, 'Surf & Go' measures are in place for weekends and there is no beach access allowed except along designated pathways to the water for surfcraft use only.

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People wear protective masks while practicing dance near the Yangtze River 1 May 2020 as life returns to normal in Wuhan, China.

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Prototype clear acrylic safety shield dividers are tested at a blackjack table at the El Cortez Hotel & Casino, which is currently closed as a result of the statewide shutdown.

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From 2 May 2020, the Queensland government eased lockdown measures to allow people to leave their homes for recreational activities, such as motorbiking or boating, picnics, visiting national parks or going shopping for non-essential items. Social distancing must still be observed and people must stay within 50km of their main residence.

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Miami Beach, Florida has partially reopened parks and facilities including golf courses, tennis courts and marinas as it begins easing lockdown restrictions.

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A woman has her temperature taken upon arrival at Naples' Central Station 4 May 4 2020.

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As schools prepare for students up to Year 10 who can't study from home or whose parents need to return to work to return to school, a teacher write Covid-19 instructions on the white board.

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People share alcohol-based hand sanitszer in South Pointe Park on 29 April 2020.

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Shoppers rush into a clothing store, which has opened for the first time since the government imposed restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus on 2 May 2020.

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Restaurant Mediamatic in Amsterdam offers what they call 'corona-proof' dining.

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A taxi driver tries to protect himself with a plastic shield after Thailand's lockdown was partially lifted on 3 May 2020 allowing markets, parks, barber shops and restaurants to open with proper social distancing measures.

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Students eat their lunch on desks with plastic partitions as a preventive measure at Dajia Elementary School in Taipei on 29 April 2020.

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A couple has their temperature taken before their wedding ceremony at Moscow's No1 Civil Registry Office on the first Sunday after Orthodox Easter.

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The couple shows off their wedding rings to a phone, as currently, relatives and friends are not allowed to attend marriage ceremonies due to safety measures aimed at countering the spread of the disease.

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As the lockdown ends in Italy, the government has allowed bars and restaurants to reopen exclusively for take-away food.

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A kiosk worker wears a protective face mask as he speaks to a customer from inside an electronic point covered with plastic inside Kazimierz Shopping mall on 4 May 2020.

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Surin Nguyen, wearing protection gear, works on the nails of a customer at Allure Nail Bar in Atlanta, Georgia on 21 April 2020 after Governor Brian Kemp eased restrictions allowing some businesses, including hair and nail salons, to reopen in the US state of Georgia after a four-week lockdown.

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Kurt Smith wears a mask while helping a customer at the recently reopened Schnee's Boots, Shoes and Outdoors on 4 May 2020.

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