My fiance and I aren’t having a baby yet, but we’re trying to conceive and have already decided that we don’t want to find out the sex of the child until delivery. I have a lot of family and friends who will likely want host a baby shower for me, but I’m not sure how to convey the idea of gender-neutrality to them.
I hope to have a shower that doesn’t include gender-based games (boys vs. girls, blue and pink, soccer star or ballerina, etc;), but I’m pretty sure all of my family and friends will think this is a crazy notion. I’m committed to providing a peaceful, neutral environment for my future child grow into an individual, free from gender-based indoctrination, and for said family and friends to know that it is important to me.
How do I propose the idea of a gender-neutral baby shower to the host with a stressed importance to not play any games or make any references that impose ideological gender roles? — Kate
A few perspectives from our readers:
I feel for you, and have had a lot of awkward moments biting my tongue at egregious sexism from perfectly nice people at various baby showers.
Is there anyone whom you could ask to organise the party who you know will understand what you want? I agree with Carrie’s comment that you can’t really control a party someone else is hosting, and will to some extent be obligated to be nice about the party they are throwing for you. If your mom or best friend doesn’t understand how you feel about gender, it’s almost certain, no matter how well you explain your perspective, and even if they’re trying, the party won’t be what you had in mind. As far as I can see, you have a few options:
- throw the party yourself. Possibly with defined roles for mom, sister, or whoever else feels strongly about getting involved. This way, you have control over what happens, so it’s a good plan if it won’t cause too much social drama to be your own host.
- get a sympathetic friend to throw the party, and let them let you do some decision-making about the content. My best friend and I both took this approach re. organising each others’ hen (bachelorette) weekends, and it worked well – and we were both comfortable hearing the other veto bride outfits, drinking games, and whatever else was a Do Not Want for the bride. This way you can have a shower but define the parameters somewhat. No games at all might be a good rule for excluding the stuff that bothers you.
- don’t have a shower at all. This might not be an option, but it’s what my wife and I ultimately decided. There are lots of aspects of baby showers we’re not comfortable with, including those you mention. So we told everyone thanks, but we’re really personally superstitious about partying before we’ve had a safe birth, so no thanks. If you make the official reason personal to you, it sounds less like you’re passing judgment.
Whatever you decide, good luck with setting boundaries over this stuff! We’re wrestling with this too. Sometimes it seems like family and friends are, in the most well-meaning ways, cramming your unborn child into a confining gender role before they’ve even finished growing their major organs.
Then again, it’s difficult to dictate a party someone else is hosting. You can let everyone know well in advance that you’re not finding out the sex, because they will ask. You could also casually mention to the host or someone involved with planning some gender neutral games that you approve of.
Also, bear in mind that anyone who knows you well enough to throw you a baby shower is probably going to continue buying things for your child after the shower and after the birth, so you should have a conversation with them about how you hope to avoid gender stereotyping before the idea of a shower is even brought up.