There are certain things that are so inane that to even mention them does them too much of a service, including (but not limited to) racists, hot dog-flavored potato chips, and TikTok dances as performed by rich white children. Among these things are gender reveal parties, or couples’ misapprehension that other people care what their unborn child is packing between their legs.
In California, a “fire-generating pyrotechnic device” used during a gender reveal party caused a wildfire that has burned through more than 10,000 acres of land, causing families to be evacuated from their homes and firefighters to work around the clock to contain it. The incident went viral via social media, prompting massive outcry and even the “inventor” of gender reveal parties, an influencer named Jenna Karvunidis, to publicly denounce the trend. “Stop it. Stop having these stupid parties,” Karvunidis wrote on Facebook. “For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis. No one cares but you.”
Part of the reason why the California wildfire went viral was because it is such an extreme example of the destruction wrought by the trend, but the truth is, this is far from the first time that gender reveal parties have led to mass destruction, or even the loss of human life. Last year, a woman in Iowa was killed when a pipe bomb went off as part of a gender reveal, and in 2017, a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona shot an explosive at a target as part of a gender reveal, causing a wildfire that scorched through tens of thousands of acres of land and more than $8 million in damage; the agent pled guilty to a misdemeanor and was forced to pay millions of dollars in restitution. (It was a boy, in case anyone fucking cares.) Other gender reveal parties have incorporated such fun elements as alligators, exploding cars, and testicle-bashing air cannons.
Even non-potentially lethal gender reveal parties are insidious reinforcements of outdated ideas about gender and sexuality. As the Atlantic‘s Julie Beck wrote last year: “Gender reveals are loud, bright, public affirmations of the gender binary in a time when people are becoming skeptical of that concept.” (They are also, it’s worth noting, a misnomer: because gender is essentially a social construct, what’s between a baby’s legs at birth is technically their sex, not their gender).
For nonbinary or gender-nonconforming people, gender reveal parties can be immensely triggering by regurgitating outdated tropes; for the parents themselves, who may have been hoping for a gender different than the one assigned to the baby at birth, they can be devastating. Ultimately, no one wins, least of all the environment, least of all the social media audience who couldn’t care less about your baby, and least of all the father who gets an impromptu vasectomy via air cannon — so just do everyone a favor and stop having them.