anxiety about what’s right and how much celebrating there should be
December 3, 2018 6:54 AM   Subscribe

Lavish weddings had become trendy in the United States by the 1990s... And this shift instigated a sort of celebratory creep, not only stretching traditional celebrations like weddings and births into multiple events, but inspiring celebrations for life events that historically passed without much fanfare: things like divorces, job departures, pets’ birthdays, and asking someone to prom (now known as a “promposal”). (SL TheAtlantic)

Echoing other industry observers, Gieseler concluded that gender-reveal parties have surged in popularity since the late 2000s, when, her analysis found, the first video of a gender-reveal party was posted on YouTube. Since then, these events have gotten just more and more over the top.... 40 percent of the moms-to-be surveyed by the advice website had a gender-reveal party or announcement this year, a figure up 30 percent from that in 2017 and nearly double that in 2016.

Lizzie Post of the Emily Post Institute, the self-proclaimed etiquette “authority” that for decades has “maintained” and “evolved” the decorum governing American society, stresses that nontraditional events such as gender-reveal parties by definition are not a “have-to” and thus don’t come with a set etiquette. But it’s hard to avoid the pressure when these once unconventional parties start to feel, well, conventional.
posted by devrim (166 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
The one oddity I've noted in US weddings is the now ubiquitous/mandatory "Save the Date" announcement. Which seems very odd in that, as I understand it, people of a certain youthful age (i.e. the same age as the couple) never bother to plan ahead for anything anyway, so the StD card is pretty useless for them. But, anyone older than them are pretty well accustomed to getting just the normal wedding invitation and duly planning from that. So, it makes me wonder just who/what the hell are the StD cards for, exactly? VistaPrint's bottom-line?

And, yeah, the gender-reveal party is really weird. But, then, it dovetails with my other pet-peeve that parents-to-be should let the gender of their baby remain a surprise until birth. It's the last big surprise life's going to give you (until, y'know, that final one, of course)
posted by Thorzdad at 7:13 AM on December 3 [8 favorites]


These things also frustrate me as a twenty-something because holy crap are a lot of them incredibly cis/gender/heteronormative, and they only get more so as the pressure to individualize them intensifies and people strive to out-compete one another.

I did not feel welcome at my sister's (fairly lavish) wedding. I would not feel welcome at a gender-reveal party, either, with the really intense and more than slightly presumptive focus on gender stereotypes and projected identification with them on a fetus who hasn't even been born. They really highlight ways in which I'm not comfortable in heteronormative and gender-normative spaces, and it quietly upsets me that they are more and more of a central Thing that I have been pressured to participate in over the last five years or so.

I feel like the awkward "well actually..." complicating party spoiler. I feel like the person whose existence invalidates these events, standing in a room and trying not to take up any conceptual space. And people won't even let me bail out.

Hate 'em.
posted by sciatrix at 7:14 AM on December 3 [74 favorites]


If I were having a gender reveal party for a new offspring, my partner and I would lift the knife on the cake and then a friend in a tyrannosaurus costume wearing a rainbow hoodie would come out of nowhere and smash the table with a regulation Antifa baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. "That's my baby's gender, motherfuckers." Yeah, I'm just the kind of person who'd shout at someone peering at my baby in a stroller wondering if it's a boy or a girl "are you some kind of pervert" but then there's a reason I got sterilized in 2003....
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:16 AM on December 3 [61 favorites]


Ever grateful that my friend group is in general not the marrying or babying kind. And that we're getting to an age that babying is not in the cards and any future weddings are likely to be low-key.

Also had the opportunity to joke this weekend about special-ordered grey M&Ms coming out of a cake to represent my shriveled uterus, no lie.
posted by wellred at 7:18 AM on December 3 [7 favorites]


gender-reveal party

why is this a thing? it did not used to be a thing

it's narcissistic - you're having a baby, that's great, I'm glad for you, but I really don't care so much if it's a boy or girl that I want to make it a big fuss finding out and going to an extra thing on top of a baby shower....if you want me to know, you could just tell me!
posted by thelonius at 7:22 AM on December 3 [24 favorites]


Just a quick PSA to anyone out there who finds that this kind of stuff gives them the howling fantods:

You don't have to do it. You don't. Really, you really don't have to.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:22 AM on December 3 [63 favorites]


The one thing I was expecting in the discussion of the gender reveal was whether it's any sort of reaction to increased trans visibility and challenges to cisnormativity?

Like, I'm all for an excuse for a party, and found this
All in all, these trends signal a push toward “public celebrations of things that used to be more privately or intimately celebrated,” says Carly Gieseler
and comments on consumption to be interesting, but I assume anyone throwing a gender reveal party is deliberately giving the middle finger to non-cis people and maybe queers more widely, or completely uninformed at best.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 7:23 AM on December 3 [11 favorites]


As a weirdo queer single friend in a sea of baby having straightish women, it has helped me greatly to reframe most of these things as excuses to help my friends not feel guilty about enjoying delicious cake.

I have been trying to do a seasonal afternoon tea but nobody takes an invitation for "tea, sandwiches, cake, and yarn crafts" seriously. Maybe I should reveal a new gender for myself four times a year and force them to RSVP for that.
posted by Mizu at 7:24 AM on December 3 [103 favorites]


Boy am I glad gender reveal parties weren't a thing when we had a baby in 2002 because we didn't find out ahead of time what our baby's gender was and it would have been awkward having all our friends in the delivery room like that. Plus, my after two days of nothing they gave my wife a C-Section and I bet the doctor wouldn't have agreed to toss confetti when he pulled my son out of my wife's belly.

Also, gender reveal parties are dumb. Who the hell cares?

The one oddity I've noted in US weddings is the now ubiquitous/mandatory "Save the Date" announcement.

I actually like these. People generally know you're getting married but it takes time to find a place and to get the invitations out so just sending a quick postcard once you settle on a date is helpful for everyone, I think.

What I don't like are all the events surrounding the wedding. The week before is the shower, where all the guests show up and give gifts. Then there's the party the night before the wedding, and the breakfast the morning after the wedding...

Can I just show up to the wedding with a gift, have a drink, do the YMCA dance, eat some dry chicken and go home?
posted by bondcliff at 7:25 AM on December 3 [16 favorites]


I did save the dates - they were for all our friends who would need to fly in for the wedding and therefore allowed them to book flights and hotels and all that jazz way in advance, for better prices, without sending out the invitations ridiculously early. Sure, it was probably unneccessary (could have just rang them up) but I like pretty stationary and made them myself.

We skipped the stag/ hen parties though. And a whole lot of the fluff.
posted by stillnocturnal at 7:25 AM on December 3 [7 favorites]


I definitely became 'that guy' at my old office when I couldn't stop my eyes rolling to the back of my head when some co-workers talked about kindergarten graduation like it was a normal thing people do.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:27 AM on December 3 [32 favorites]


Of course, I'm in the UK, so we don't have wedding showers. Which are totally bizarre from a UK perspective. It's a party just for presents?
posted by stillnocturnal at 7:27 AM on December 3 [1 favorite]


I would be interested to know more demographic details about this whole "gender reveal party" business. No one in either my social circle or my extended family would ever dream of holding such an event, but their reasons would range from leftish to "how incredibly tacky" " to
"all this talk about the process of pregnancy is awfully close to talking about S-E-X which is inappropriate", so I assume that the people who hold the parties also have a variety of reasons and come from a variety of backgrounds, but it's still baffling to me.

~~
Definitely one of those "people are different from one another" moments where you realize that your fellow humans are all running around being as different from you as if they came from Alpha Centauri. Like, leaving the political angle aside, when I think of going to a themed party to eat silly things purchased for the 'gram and to giggle and poke various kinds of fun at each other while filming everything, I just get such a sense of misery; it's impossible for me to imagine enjoying such an event. But obviously people think this is a lot of fun and get a lot out of it, or they wouldn't bother. It's weird and disorienting, like realizing that what you've been thinking of as "green" is what other people actually call orange.
posted by Frowner at 7:29 AM on December 3 [17 favorites]


why is this a thing? it did not used to be a thing

1. Well you didn't use to be able to tell as early as you can now
2. Yes, I pretty much assume it has to do with cis people wanting to be all heteronormative whether they know it or not, anxiety over the potential gayness/transness of one's child is probably at an all-time high for people who find that a problem
3. Baby showers are kind of boring and this adds DRAMA
posted by emjaybee at 7:30 AM on December 3 [13 favorites]


I made the guys I worked with in Cote d'Ivoire celebrate birthdays, American Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Chanukah, in addition to normal celebrations like Ivorian Independence Day, Christmas, New Years, funeral parties, and wedding parties. They put their foot down at Groundhog's Day as a holiday one could celebrate. "Americans celebrate too many things. No stupid rat holidays."
posted by ChuraChura at 7:30 AM on December 3 [140 favorites]


Some people need to perform happy to be happy.

Problem is sometimes it's hard to tell if they're screaming inside and pretending out of some sense of desperation, or actually happy and just really keen to share their joy with the world.

I mean I've got friends it's easy to say it would go one way or the other. And I've got some friends where you really need to look at the cues. But I think parties, in general, are really lovely, unless they're also accompanied with some kind of drama or obligation.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:33 AM on December 3 [16 favorites]


The Greeting Card Event Planner Industrial Complex triumphs once again.
posted by Damienmce at 7:34 AM on December 3 [3 favorites]


But, then, it dovetails with my other pet-peeve that parents-to-be should let the gender of their baby remain a surprise until birth. It's the last big surprise life's going to give you...

Unless someone hates surprises. Those someones may even hate surprises more when they are responsible for raising another human being and then setting them free into the world. To those someones, surprises are the enemy.
posted by NoMich at 7:34 AM on December 3 [7 favorites]


I definitely became 'that guy' at my old office when I couldn't stop my eyes rolling to the back of my head when some co-workers talked about kindergarten graduation like it was a normal thing people do.

I will counter this with the fact that I had a "kindergarten graduation" in 1974, so this isn't really new.

Gender reveal parties are really weird though.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:34 AM on December 3 [8 favorites]


People generally know you're getting married but it takes time to find a place and to get the invitations out so just sending a quick postcard once you settle on a date is helpful for everyone, I think.

Agreed. The bulk of my family is overseas. A cousin of mine announced last spring that she was getting married, and wanted me there. OK, great! But no date. Months pass. No word, and I can't really prod on this point without adding pressure. Now we're in the work season where vacations for next year have to be booked, and going over for this wedding means X vacation time used up, which determines Y vacation time, and it's all this big causal chain, and why can't these Europeans respect my North American wedding expectations and grar grar grar.

In the end they decided to do a planned-elopement, so it all became moot, but still -- attendees don't necessarily need a full slate of details, but putting the date out there is quite helpful.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:37 AM on December 3 [9 favorites]


So, it makes me wonder just who/what the hell are the StD cards for, exactly?

Save the Date cards are for everyone in your circle of friends and family that don't read newspapers anymore, especially local ones. And if they do get newspapers the papers don't run wedding announcement columns anymore, except for the NYT I suppose.

I'd rather get a Date card than an invitation 8 weeks before the event. I can block the weekend out way ahead of time which means my chance of attending is very high.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:39 AM on December 3 [15 favorites]


When our baby was on the way, I joked that we should throw a gender reveal party and serve yellow cake. It seemed too far to go for a joke, though.

It's a good thing we didn't have a gender reveal party, because we thought we were having a boy and it turned out we have a girl! (As far as we know.) This actually worked out pretty well - people heard we were having a boy and gave us stuff, but then once we had a girl they felt bad about giving us that stuff and got us different, pinker stuff.

We also didn't make it to our own baby shower, because there was traffic on the way to the airport. We live in Atlanta so this should not have been a surprise.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:39 AM on December 3 [3 favorites]


What I don't like are all the events surrounding the wedding. The week before is the shower, where all the guests show up and give gifts. Then there's the party the night before the wedding, and the breakfast the morning after the wedding...

I wonder how much this tracks with weddings that may have more out-of-town guests, though. If someone is spending hundreds of dollars on airfare and hotels to attend your wedding, it seems like it's a lot kinder to entertain them for the duration of their stay and not just a few hours.
posted by mosst at 7:40 AM on December 3 [12 favorites]


The 'save the date' cards are super useful to those of us with limited vacation time and family that's all over the country. It's nice to know more six months in advance if you're going to have to take some time off to travel to a wedding.
posted by octothorpe at 7:40 AM on December 3 [25 favorites]


I have never seen a gender reveal party in the wild, fwiw. My only contact with them is my Facebook friends mocking the concept every time some ridiculous version of one winds up going viral.

Save the Date can be a nice logistical helper, though. My boss is younger than me and the dude goes to a wedding in some other state like every other weekend because suddenly all his friends are getting married. Save the Date gives you dibs on a date if you're at that age, and allows people to travel plan with maximal efficiency.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:41 AM on December 3 [4 favorites]


My takeaway from this is that I should throw my cats a birthday party next year.
posted by stillnocturnal at 7:41 AM on December 3 [39 favorites]


One of my asshole brother-in-laws calls these events "ass wart parties." As in, every time someone goes to the doctor to get a wart removed from their ass, we have to have a party. The problem that I have with them is that there's such a strong feeling of tradition within the family that every party is exactly the same. Same cake, same food, same music, same 4000 people. No matter whether it's a wedding or a funeral or gender reveal or Christmas or 8th grade graduation. Worse yet, you can set your watch at these events based on when the Chicken Dance and Electric Slide are played.

There isn't enough booze in the world to make these events OK in any way.
posted by ensign_ricky at 7:42 AM on December 3 [7 favorites]


Yeah, Save the Dates especially make sense when you know people will be traveling. But honestly they're useful in general so you don't double-book. Maybe they're more important now than in the past because lots of people travel more than their parents and grandparents did, thanks to cheap airfare and having decent income for years without kids?
posted by smelendez at 7:42 AM on December 3 [1 favorite]


People generally know you're getting married but it takes time to find a place and to get the invitations out so just sending a quick postcard once you settle on a date is helpful for everyone, I think.

What other people said. PLUS invitations tend to have a lot more information than just the date, time and place - they'll have stuff like the registry, parking, directions, dress, ect.

And man, explaining to older folks that I only have ten vacation days a year and parcel them out in December for next year gets kind of old - I'm no longer a Young Person, but I definitely planned that far ahead in my twenties, just out of necessity.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:43 AM on December 3 [5 favorites]


I will counter this with the fact that I had a "kindergarten graduation" in 1974, so this isn't really new.

Yeah, I had one in 1979. There are pictures. My son had a preschool graduation and I'm sorry, it was cute as hell. I mean, we didn't have a party for him or anything, there were no gifts involved, but it was adorable to see all those little munchkins all lined up wearing little mortarboards.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:43 AM on December 3 [10 favorites]


The man’s gender-reveal party ended up burning 47,000 acres of parched state land, and cost $8.2 million to extinguish.

Talk about burying the lede
posted by standardasparagus at 7:44 AM on December 3 [17 favorites]


I had a kindergarten graduation in 1968.

Life is hard. Don't begrudge people reasons to celebrate, even if you look down your nose at the things they are celebrating.
posted by briank at 7:48 AM on December 3 [25 favorites]


Take the 20-year-old Juliann Mladineo. Just a few months into her first pregnancy, Mladineo was convinced she was having a girl. She and her 21-year-old boyfriend had initially decided to hold off on learning the baby’s sex until birth, and the mystery made the already special pregnancy process “extremely exciting,” Mladineo says.

But some of their relatives already knew the baby’s sex; her sister had found out early on, when she accompanied Mladineo to the hospital for the gender-revealing ultrasound, and she spilled the beans to a few family members. They kept teasing Mladineo and her boyfriend. Eventually, the couple just couldn’t resist any longer. They gave in to their relatives, and to another pressure as well: the temptation to leverage all the mystery and the surrounding hype and funnel it into a party.


Christ, what assholes.
posted by Hypatia at 7:48 AM on December 3 [11 favorites]


I admit a fascination with gender reveal cake decorations and figuring out what the straights think is a gender. Deer? Guns? Ballet? Football? The possibilities are arbitrarily defined and yet very specific!
posted by dinty_moore at 7:49 AM on December 3 [16 favorites]


Then just have a party. You don't need a reason to get together, get drunk, and celebrate
posted by standardasparagus at 7:51 AM on December 3 [6 favorites]


My friends/nieces/nephews, etc. have just about all aged out of this sort of thing in the last 5 years or so, and thank goodness.

The last big ticket "life event" I celebrated was a friend's wedding abut 3 years ago: Engagement party for everyone to join in. Weekend hen do in Atlantic City at a swanky hotel for the closer friends (the guys did something similar at a different hotel). Huge wedding at an oceanfront resort (fortunately, I could get there by LIRR), big-ticket items on the registry (I think I bought towels?). All told, combined must have been almost $400K that we all spent for this one thing. I personally probably spent $1500 on the celebrations and whatnot, including clothes, food, drinks, gifts, transport, lodgings, etc. etc....



My friend and the fella divorced this year.

Womp-womp.
posted by droplet at 7:52 AM on December 3 [6 favorites]


My son was facing the wrong way for his only sonogram so we didn't know until birth that he was a boy. I don't think that we missed out on anything.
posted by octothorpe at 7:53 AM on December 3 [1 favorite]


why is this a thing? it did not used to be a thing

Well, as you yourself say - "it's narcissistic". I think that's a large part of that. I don't know anyone who has had these kinds of parties, but I also happen to not know any narcissists. Granted, correlation isn't causation, but I think that the two may be connected...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:53 AM on December 3 [4 favorites]


So the gender reveal is before the birth? I was assuming it was after and that at some point they would all gather round and one parent would pull off the child's nappy and raise the baby up so that everyone could see.
posted by biffa at 7:53 AM on December 3 [13 favorites]


It's the last big surprise life's going to give you...

It's a surprise either way, whether you find out when it's a fetus or when it's a baby.

We didn't do a gender reveal party because eyeroll but it would have been a genitalia reveal, I guess. THE BABY HAS A PENIS!!! That's all you know, not the gender. Cut the cake and a bunch of candy penises fall out? I dunno that sounds fun and would scandalize any locals I'd invite.

Also, save the dates are for everyone who needs to make travel plans and request time off work. Probably 50% of people had to fly to our wedding due to (mostly my) bicoastalness.
posted by emkelley at 7:54 AM on December 3 [8 favorites]


I mean, they're really sex reveal parties, not gender reveal parties. If they were called that they would be, at least semantically, far less problematic.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:54 AM on December 3 [20 favorites]


"kindergarten graduation" in 1974

Who was the speaker? Big Bird?
posted by thelonius at 7:55 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


Huh. I always thought that Save the Date cards were more old fashioned than not. Maybe my impression was off-base.

We did not do cards, but sent out a save-the-date email. Partly for the heads-up it provided for anyone traveling, but also as a way to ask people to send us their current physical mailing address for the formal invitation.
posted by AndrewInDC at 7:55 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


Are gender reveal parties actually replacing other celebrations? At least two of the couples mentioned in the article--the 20-year-old whose family learned the ultrasound info, and the linked Louisiana couple with the gator--are portrayed as unmarried.

And with fewer people going to church, I assume there are fewer Christening parties going on, but maybe some families don't feel quite comfortable having an overtly nonreligious alternative once the baby is born?
posted by smelendez at 7:55 AM on December 3 [4 favorites]


A couple of my adult trans friends have done gender reveal parties for themselves, and I've got to admit that makes a lot more sense and is a great excuse for a party.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:56 AM on December 3 [74 favorites]


Megan Amram would like to say Thank You for Coming to my Baby's Gender Reveal Party.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:56 AM on December 3 [22 favorites]


I'm also intensely curious now about the demographics of the gender reveal party devotees.
posted by emkelley at 7:56 AM on December 3 [4 favorites]


Life is hard. Don't begrudge people reasons to celebrate, even if you look down your nose at the things they are celebrating.

I don't begrudge people their celebrations. The issue with the gender reveal parties is that I don't just look down my nose at them, they cause me concern and fear for the child. Sure, many of them might be fine, but I can't see a gender reveal party without wondering if that kid is going to grow up to be another person who does not fit into a gender binary and will suffer great trauma from their family that clearly has rigid preconceptions about gender.
If it's the first step in what could well be a life sentence of repression from their own parents.

You can't have a gender reveal party for a baby. It's not possible. They can't tell you or understand their own gender.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 7:56 AM on December 3 [24 favorites]


I was assuming it was after and that at some point they would all gather round and one parent would pull off the child's nappy and raise the baby up so that everyone could see.

This is suddenly making me picture something like that moment with Baby Simba in The Lion King and I am giggling in a really snorty way, thank you
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:57 AM on December 3 [18 favorites]




Then there's the party the night before the wedding, and the breakfast the morning after the wedding...

The rehearsal dinner and the wedding breakfast are very old-fashioned. IIRC, you can read an account of social drama surrounding a wedding breakfast in The Age of Innocence, a book published in the 1920s about a wealthy family in the late nineteenth century.
posted by praemunire at 7:59 AM on December 3 [7 favorites]


Okay, on a serious note....

Life is hard. Don't begrudge people reasons to celebrate, even if you look down your nose at the things they are celebrating.

I suspect that it isn't the celebrations themselves people are looking down on, but rather on the fact that some people feel like they have to throw such parties now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:59 AM on December 3 [3 favorites]


I'm also intensely curious now about the demographics of the gender reveal party devotees.

Conservative people who believe sex and gender are one and the same and for whom binary gender distinctions are extremely important?
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:00 AM on December 3 [9 favorites]


I think actually a lot of this is economic. Like, lavish weddings have always been a thing for people who could afford them. It’s not that they became “trendy” in the 1990s, but rather that it became trendy for people who could not afford them to pretend they could afford them, so they became much more common.

And because that’s the norm people are setting standards by, they often feel cheated or as though they’ve been shabby at a major life event when they can’t afford to have the ten foot lace train or the open bar for two hundred. Or because fewer and fewer people are marrying currently, when they didn’t have them at all.

And so you’re seeing these elaborate gender reveal parties or divorce parties or what have you - because they are much, much cheaper than a fancy wedding, but can still have a false sense of extravagance.
posted by corb at 8:01 AM on December 3 [18 favorites]


I was skimming the thread, read about ‘StD cards’ and, hey, now I have an idea for a completely novel VistaPrint product...carry on.
posted by The Toad at 8:02 AM on December 3 [14 favorites]


I know a few people who tried to basically elope and have a very small wedding. They were all unable to resist the later pressure from family to have a big expensive quasi-ceremony and reception.
posted by thelonius at 8:02 AM on December 3


I would not put "gender reveal party" on the same continuum as "divorce party".

One is clearly celebrating something while the other is not even an excuse to have a party. What exactly are we celebrating at a gender reveal party? The invention of sonograms?
posted by some loser at 8:04 AM on December 3 [5 favorites]


Sure, many of them might be fine, but I can't see a gender reveal party without wondering if that kid is going to grow up to be another person who does not fit into a gender binary and will suffer great trauma from their family that clearly has rigid preconceptions about gender.

In addition, it's probably not going to be that great for a cis kid to grow up in a family that, I dunno, fetishizes gender in this manner, as if gender per se tells you a lot about who the kid is as a person. Gender "tells you a lot" when you live in a society where gender is used to organize and oppress people - you know what kind of gendered shit your child will have to deal with and which set of hoops you're going to have to jump through, and exactly which feelings your child is going to be encouraged to suppress or ignore. But it doesn't tell you if your kid likes to read, or is very coordinated, or is extremely neat or always seems to find the mud, etc etc. Gender "reveal" is a reveal of very little even when it turns out that you have a cis child.

Honestly, I am sure that I could meet some genuinely good, kind, lovely people who are very into gender reveals - I don't think that it makes you history's greatest monster or a terrible parent or guaranteed to raise a Stepford childbot or something. But it feels like a bad way to start.
posted by Frowner at 8:05 AM on December 3 [31 favorites]


I suspect that it isn't the celebrations themselves people are looking down on, but rather on the fact that some people feel like they have to throw such parties now.

No, I think it's the former. Judging others for their consumerism is one of the less delightful traits of the American left. (The gender reveal party is a separate issue, and I think the objections/concerns there are valid.)

One of my closest friends and I have the habit of congratulating each other on the completion of fairly dumb/minor life goals or modest ordeals. Life is hard. If you have any kind of disability, even ordinary tasks can become a disproportionate burden. I don't understand this terrible begrudging some people have of recognizing minor accomplishments. As if, e.g., some recognition for children of showing up for practice regularly and going out to play competitively and behaving well, win or lose, for a whole season is just unthinkable. A kindergarten graduation? Is it really so awful to recognize the life transition that happens there, as the kids go to a new school and a very different stage of their education? And do you have any idea how cute those little kids are in their "caps and gowns?"
posted by praemunire at 8:06 AM on December 3 [16 favorites]


Gender reveal parties are probably the biggest hint that the cishets are not ok.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:06 AM on December 3 [16 favorites]


Echoing many comments above, one of the most valuable lessons I've learned in life is you don't have to prove anything. You don't need to have a baby shower. You don't need to have a registry. You don't even need to have a first birthday party for your kid, who, frankly, will not remember it and will not care. You're having a kid! Chill out! You will need that valuable time later for cleaning up vomit and giving hugs!

It's interesting that this is tied to social media, because I feel one of the greatest horrors of YouTube is how it allows wealthy folks to flaunt it and behavior that used to be aspirational is now taken as manditory.
posted by phooky at 8:06 AM on December 3 [8 favorites]


The one oddity I've noted in US weddings is the now ubiquitous/mandatory "Save the Date" announcement. Which seems very odd in that, as I understand it, people of a certain youthful age (i.e. the same age as the couple) never bother to plan ahead for anything anyway, so the StD card is pretty useless for them. But, anyone older than them are pretty well accustomed to getting just the normal wedding invitation and duly planning from that. So, it makes me wonder just who/what the hell are the StD cards for, exactly? VistaPrint's bottom-line?

You don't have to send a card - you can send an email.

But a "Save-the-date" notice is very helpful. We didn't do one; my mother said you send out invitations 6-8 weeks before, and that's what we did.

Only then half of my husband's family couldn't attend, because they were in another country and didn't have time to book affordable flights, especially the younger (and less well-to-do) cousins. (Contrary to your myth, when it comes to expensive travel, young people plan well ahead. I would have flights booked at least 6 months before taking them. The only flights I've ever booked for less than 3 months away are flights for work, that my work paid for).
posted by jb at 8:08 AM on December 3 [6 favorites]


Despite ragging on my normie friends upthread, I've only been to one gender reveal party and all the rest of the life event parties have been more generally arbitrary and less politically divisive. Like, there's an annual party for one couple's wedding anniversary because it's near Halloween, as more women are getting pregnant the second time there have been a few "swap baby stuff baby shower" parties, housewarming parties when someone actually manages to afford a house.

It's an excuse to have a gathering that's derived from someone's life milestone thing, and I'm okay with that for the most part. Even the one gender reveal party was very much "I let my mom do this for me, please just let this happen for this one day, the cake has rainbow M&Ms in it" and not "behold! for my child doth have a vagina and shall spend the dawn of her womanhood in the red tent!" As a generational attribute I feel like "propensity to celebrate small stuff" is a nicer thing than, say, "lifelong financial trauma" so I'm going to roll with it.
posted by Mizu at 8:13 AM on December 3 [11 favorites]


Huh. I always thought that Save the Date cards were more old fashioned than not. Maybe my perception was of base.

This. We are drowning in industries that profit off of fabricating expensive traditions.
posted by es_de_bah at 8:14 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


> I suspect that it isn't the celebrations themselves people are looking down on, but rather on the fact that some people feel like they have to throw such parties now.

No, I think it's the former. Judging others for their consumerism is one of the less delightful traits of the American left.


Uh....dude, right here in this thread there's a pullquote from the article which discusses a couple who was pressured into having a party by their relatives, even though they were just fine with the whole leaving-it-a-mystery thing and not having a party.

The "American left" can all be universally painted with the same brush; in fact, many of us on the left are opposed to the idea of people being pressured to do things they don't want to do, or being prevented from doing things they do want to do. So, like, you having a party with your friend to celebrate small things is sweet by me because you want to, and people whose aunts are pushing them to have a gender-reveal party when they would just as soon stay home alone and eat pizza is not cool because they don't want to have that party.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:15 AM on December 3 [13 favorites]


I just always figured my kindergarten graduation pictures were done because they all figured I probably wouldn't graduate from anything else in my life so let's celebrate this one thing that he actually accomplished after his fall down two flights of stairs as a soft-headed infant.
posted by some loser at 8:16 AM on December 3 [8 favorites]


I came to this thread expecting the howling fantods and instead I'm mildly interested and sometimes even delighted by the quirks of my fellow Americans (kind of the opposite of how I reacted to the New Mexico driver's license thread, come to think of it). Gendering babies is still awful, but as for the other celebratory stuff I just feel like we're all in this together, like on public transit. Stay strong, friends.
posted by sunset in snow country at 8:17 AM on December 3 [3 favorites]


We did our best to not reveal the gender of child 2 for as long as possible after birth. Why should baby's repro organs matter so much to people?
"Is it a boy or a girl?"
"Yes, its a boy or a girl."
Some people struggled to understand. We caved in after a couple of days. Someone more determined than us could probably keep it up for years. Decades, perhaps.
posted by memebake at 8:18 AM on December 3 [13 favorites]


biffa: I was assuming it was after and that at some point they would all gather round and one parent would pull off the child's nappy and raise the baby up so that everyone could see.

EmpressCallipygos: This is suddenly making me picture something like that moment with Baby Simba in The Lion King and I am giggling in a really snorty way, thank you

Funny thing is, there's a home movie of my parents doing THIS EXACT THING with me once I was home from the hospital (late 1960s). Diaper open, baby held up and kind of theatrically shown around. I wonder if that was a thing many other people did?

...oh gosh maybe I am supposed to be monarch of every place the light touches and I forgot!!!
posted by theatro at 8:19 AM on December 3 [11 favorites]


So the gender reveal is before the birth? I was assuming it was after and that at some point they would all gather round and one parent would pull off the child's nappy and raise the baby up so that everyone could see.

You laugh - but isn't this exactly what a bris is?

More seriously: I wonder if the desire to mark these milestones comes from a lack of ceremony. Since my partner became religious, we have so much more ceremony in our lives: seasonal markers, special meals, all sorts of rituals and prayers to mark every last thing you could want to mark, yearly or life-cycle.

Including special ceremonies and parties to mark a baby's birth and sex: a brit milah for the foreskin bearers, and a baby naming for those without.
posted by jb at 8:20 AM on December 3 [18 favorites]


A good party is always fun, and part of the fun can be coming up with an excuse for one, but the real problem is when you feel like you absolutely have to do this thing, with the attendant cost and social media documentation accompanied by snarky and harsh criticism from assorted randos. Kindergarten graduation party because a cousin's kid had a harder-than-average time of it and they're celebrating that they actually made it through? Excellent! If you can hook me up with a Big Bird costume, I will be that big-ass bird. I'll do the sunscreen speech! But maybe not so much if you're going to be filming the present-opening with running commentary. (Note: I wrote the above before checking to see if that was actually a thing. Guess what?) A coworker recently got married, and when you think that they can't come up with yet one more ancillary ritual that just had to be done, they had a menu-tasting thing, you know, in case durian was on the menu or something, I guess.

On the other hand, I would have 100% been up for a divorce party, given the circumstances.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:20 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


I know a few people who tried to basically elope and have a very small wedding. They were all unable to resist the later pressure from family to have a big expensive quasi-ceremony and reception.

Twenty years ago, working retail, I helped a couple that was planning a medium-sized casual "engagement party" where halfway through a clergyperson would step out, and they'd announce "HA HA! We're actually getting married right now!"

I've always wondered if it fulfilled whatever obligations they were trying to both meet and skirt.
posted by bendybendy at 8:20 AM on December 3 [25 favorites]


Without the rehearsal dinner we couldn't make jokes about how we need to practice eating dinner. As a father, I enjoy making this joke.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:20 AM on December 3 [21 favorites]


On a recent episode of Ologies, Katherine Spiers pointed out that due to its puritanical roots, America doesn't do as many holidays as other countries (c.f. the dozens and dozens of Catholic Feast Days). And she suggests Americans have an anxiety about celebrating too much (not as common to have wine with dinner every night), and tend to compress festivity into fewer holidays (that they then overdo).

Maybe Americans are feeling this celebration gap and making up for it by replacing communal festivals with individual life events?
posted by little onion at 8:22 AM on December 3 [23 favorites]


But I guess the Instagram answer is the focus on "holidays" that can be about you.
posted by little onion at 8:24 AM on December 3 [3 favorites]


Twenty years ago, working retail, I helped a couple that was planning a medium-sized casual "engagement party" where halfway through a clergyperson would step out, and they'd announce "HA HA! We're actually getting married right now!"

Side characters Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis do this in the pretty good 2013 Dan Radcliffe vehicle "What if"/"The F Word". Its a pretty awesome scene.
posted by memebake at 8:25 AM on December 3 [1 favorite]




What I don't like are all the events surrounding the wedding. The week before is the shower, where all the guests show up and give gifts. Then there's the party the night before the wedding, and the breakfast the morning after the wedding...
You're probably not going to be a fan of the multi-day sometimes week long affair that is Indian weddings.
posted by Fizz at 8:28 AM on December 3 [9 favorites]


Then just have a party. You don't need a reason to get together, get drunk, and celebrate
posted by standardasparagus


Then the party wouldn't be all about them.
posted by agregoli at 8:28 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


On one of the Disney Parks message boards I hung out on, I once suggested that "sex" was a more appropriate word than "gender" in this case. It Did Not Go Over Well.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:30 AM on December 3 [12 favorites]


HISSSSSSSSSSSS

I think it would be hilarious and fun to have a coming-out party for a tiny baby in a tiny fancy outfit as if they were a debutante, myself.
posted by blnkfrnk at 8:30 AM on December 3 [7 favorites]


theatro, it's time to come back and take your rightful place as king. I volunteer to dress in drag and do the hula if you don't already have a Timon in your life.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:30 AM on December 3 [4 favorites]


I'm talking like at least 4 or 5 different functions leading up and after. A change of clothes for each one.
posted by Fizz at 8:31 AM on December 3


I had a wedding. The marriage didn't last, but the wedding does, in a weird way. Not about me and my now-ex - we haven't spoken to each other in several years, we live in different countries now. But about the humans that were in the room - the event ended up being much more about everyone, and the wedding memories are about the people who've died in the interim, etc. I like a party (especially when I have the opportunity to leave when I want) - I guess I don't like pomp for the sake of pomp.
posted by wellred at 8:33 AM on December 3 [4 favorites]


My parents are moving after living in the same house my entire life, and I'm helping clean out. Among the objects found was my framed preschool diploma from the mid 80s.
posted by ckape at 8:35 AM on December 3 [3 favorites]


I mean, they're really sex reveal parties, not gender reveal parties. If they were called that they would be, at least semantically, far less problematic.

On one of the Disney Parks message boards I hung out on, I once suggested that "sex" was a more appropriate word than "gender" in this case. It Did Not Go Over Well.

THIS. Just say sex, people. It's not a bad word. I mean, I know that it is a terrible word to a lot of people, but come on.

I first noticed this phenomenon when I was lurking on evangelical mom blogs--their being extremely concerned about the gender presentation of their fetus/infant/toddler, and going to great lengths to surround the child in pink or blue. Including large floral headbands that can't be comfortable on a baby's scalp. Like the worst thing they could imagine (other than vaccine injuries) is if a stranger were to misgender their kid.
posted by witchen at 8:37 AM on December 3 [9 favorites]


"I'm also intensely curious now about the demographics of the gender reveal party devotees."

Me too. I have been deeeeeeeep in the baby-having years for the last 12 years or so, attending baby showers at least twice a quarter (plus all the assorted baptisms, brises, christenings, namings, etc., that come after the baby arrives), and I have never once been invited to a gender reveal party. I wonder if it's a regional thing or (my suspicion) a class thing?

Everyone I know who's decided to a) find out and b) share the baby's sex just calls their family and then posts on Facebook a few days later.

When we found out our third was a girl, my husband went out and bought himself a pink cake to celebrate. I was like, "That's not really how gender reveal parties are supposed to work," and he was like, "I know but now I have my whole own cake." Touché!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:39 AM on December 3 [22 favorites]


Oh! An addendum, re: the religious component of this gender essentialism from pre-birth thing: sometimes the baby girls would not be given middle names. Because it was assumed that they would marry (men) and take their last name, making their surname at birth their adult middle name. Meanwhile, the boys in the family would all get proper middle names like James and William 'n stuff.
posted by witchen at 8:40 AM on December 3 [4 favorites]


Also the bris, even leaving out the debate over the cutting, is a horrible event. Multiple people cry and not from joy. Then we eat? I despise it.
posted by wellred at 8:42 AM on December 3


I was raised in an atheist household here in the US of A and every time my more-leftier-than-thou husband starts grousing about celebrating one of the like two holidays left to us I feel the need to get out of my old Anthropology texts that discusses the importance to humans of all varieties of celebrations, rites of passage, and times-out-of-time. Like, let me just have this one thing, okay?
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:42 AM on December 3 [31 favorites]


Including large floral headbands that can't be comfortable on a baby's scalp.

I knew a woman who just Scotch-taped pink bows directly on her infant daughter's noggin.

...sometimes the baby girls would not be given middle names. Because it was assumed that they would marry (men) and take their last name, making their surname at birth their adult middle name.

Yes! My father's mother was scandalized when my sister and I were given middle names!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:44 AM on December 3 [6 favorites]


First child is coming very, very shortly. We elected to not find out the sex, and a gender reveal party was definitely Not Happening anyway due to various reasons, from personal "want to put off heavy gendering as long as possible" to "would be extremely weird in our very liberal social circle" to ethno-religious "You're going to temp the evil eye!".

(And that last one does mean that, yeah, the sex reveal is basically going to be "Baby is born; [bris/baby naming] will be on X date").

Again, due to my social circle, the response to "We're not finding out" has generally been "Oh that'll be a nice surprise", but I was still a little taken aback by the "I'd want to know so I could plan!" responses we got from some people.
posted by damayanti at 8:46 AM on December 3 [4 favorites]


I knew a woman who just Scotch-taped pink bows directly on her infant daughter's noggin.

Let me introduce you to this extremely Pentecostal family and their hair bow fetish.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:47 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


The pet birthday party thing, I just... The last thing I want to do is step on the joy of someone who truly adores their dog or cat (or what have you), particularly because I recognize that many people have much stronger feelings about pets than I do for a wide variety of reasons. Do what you wanna do and be happy.

But as an observer, there does seem to be a weird, increasingly common thing where people kind of cast their pet into a central role in a cargo cult version of a parent/child relationship.

I would not know how (and would not be interested in attempting) to parse out the line where saying that your pet is your child goes from adorable quirk to something you should talk to a therapist about.

I do know that it would not be okay if I were to lock my kid in a kennel and go out drinking, and that people don't typically need to worry about what they will leave behind for their dog in 50 years. So there is a line there somewhere.

I've got a sister-in-law with a sibling who insists that her "doggy babies" be present in group portraits of grandchildren and throws parties with invitations and a gift registry.

Part of me wants to say whatever floats her boat, but another part of me notices how much it hurts my sister-in-law when my nephew is treated as a peer to a cocker spaniel.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:48 AM on December 3 [9 favorites]


In what I must acknowledge is not exactly an earth-shattering realization, I’ve noticed a correlation between those who’ve most enthusiastically embraced these expanded life event celebrations and those who also celebrate the Hallmarkiest of holidays. So, the same coworker who planned a colleague’s gender reveal party last year is also the one who goes to weekend-long bachelorette parties and celebrates Boss’s Day.

I don’t get too worked up about the parties for various life events, but the flimsy holidays are just weird. I mean, Boss’s Day? Where I work, and at every job I’ve ever had, every fucking day is Boss’s Day. Give me a break.
posted by cheapskatebay at 8:48 AM on December 3 [6 favorites]


it was assumed that they would marry (men) and take their last name, making their surname at birth their adult middle name

>Yes! My father's mother was scandalized when my sister and I were given middle names!


Wow, that's wild, I had no idea. We gave our kid two middle names; hopefully this will ruin her marriage prospects.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:48 AM on December 3 [10 favorites]


More seriously: I wonder if the desire to mark these milestones comes from a lack of ceremony. Since my partner became religious, we have so much more ceremony in our lives: seasonal markers, special meals, all sorts of rituals and prayers to mark every last thing you could want to mark, yearly or life-cycle.

Yeah, I think there's a lot of that too. Like - there haven't been any gender reveal parties that I know of within my Catholic church community, and when I do see them, it's explicitly non religious folk doing it, or people that may say 'I'm Christian' but who do not regularly attend church. Because yeah, there's the baptism! And further holidays! And ladies' luncheons! And there's parties for the seasons and you can go see all your friends and celebrate at least once a month if not more.
posted by corb at 8:49 AM on December 3 [7 favorites]


*blush*

sooooooo upthread I was talking about how my beef was with the the idea that people felt forced into this but then saw something I said earlier in the thread that implied people who had gender reveal parties were narcissists and that wasn't fair to say, sorry.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:49 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


Can I just show up to the wedding with a gift, have a drink, do the YMCA dance, eat some dry chicken and go home?

Do not eat the dry chicken! Do not eat the "Steak" in mushroom sauce. Don't do the cream sauce whatever. My friends, there is another option. Check the "children's meal" box. If there is no box like that just write in "Children's meal." The caterer will usually do it/have it even if they don't put it on the invitation. You will get chicken fingers and fries. It's really hard to mess up chicken fingers and fries. They'll be delicious. Everyone at the table will be jealous of you.

he religious component of this gender essentialism from pre-birth thing: sometimes the baby girls would not be given middle names. Because it was assumed that they would marry (men) and take their last name, making their surname at birth their adult middle name.

That's weird and not just because it's sexist. It's weird when women who get married and choose to take their husband's last name then drop their middle name and use their old last name as a middle name. Why do they do that? If they want to take their husband's name AND keep their old last name why not either A) Have to surnames: Michelle Anna SMITH JONES (last names in whichever order they choose) or B) Have two middle names: Michelle Anna Smith JONES? You can have as many names as you want, people. And lots of people have two last names or have last names with spaces in them.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:51 AM on December 3 [6 favorites]


I would also like to say that while I recognize the importance in celebrating transitions in a child's life, the snowballing number of "graduations" school age children go through is truly fucking weird. Kids graduate pre-school into kindergarten, elementary school into middle school, middle school into high school... these days, I've even seen graduations for individual grades.

I'll go to all of these and clap politely, but in my mind, if the next school year rolls around and child services would come get me if my kid wasn't at their desk, they didn't graduate shit.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:51 AM on December 3 [10 favorites]


I knew a woman who just Scotch-taped pink bows directly on her infant daughter's noggin.

You can also use a post-it note with a bow drawn on.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:52 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


I can't find it in me to hate gender reveal parties, as a concept. The over the top, "we're going to ram an army truck into a camo cake and then explode the whole thing because our fetus is male" type of party? Yeah, that's awful. But just the idea of a party where you get together with people you love and celebrate this information you've learned about your fetus? It makes sense to me.

Pregnant people are increasing isolated in American society. And, given how terrifying pregnancy can be, and how many tests can be involved in pregnancy, there is a lot of room for fear and anxiety. In pregnancy, most of the time, either you learn that something is very seriously wrong with your fetus, or you just don't learn anything at all.

The baby's sex is the one bit of information you can get that is positive either way.* You have an ultrasound, and you learn something about your fetus that isn't scary.
Is it a boy? Is it a girl? Either way, you win! You learn something that makes the thing growing inside you seen more like a person than a blob. Why not celebrate that? Why not use it as an opportunity to bring together friends and family, and rejoice that you have at least one bit of information about the life you're making?

Gender dynamics are gross, yeah. But I can imagine that at least some gender reveal parties stem from a desperate need for community and for a break from the constant fear that your fetus isn't okay, especially during those early months of pregnancy.

*For some value systems only, I know. Sigh.
posted by meese at 8:52 AM on December 3 [16 favorites]


It's weird when women who get married and choose to take their husband's last name then drop their middle name and use their old last name as a middle name.

Uh. I did that. (20 years ago, fwiw. If I did it now I'd probably keep my name? Idk.) I did it because I disliked and never used my middle name, and it was a way to not hyphenate but have both names.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:55 AM on December 3 [5 favorites]


I would like to know how widespread some of these things are - like this: New traditions can also address a growing desire among couples to have co-ed life-event celebrations; a post-wedding couple’s shower, for example, can supplement pre-wedding gender-segregated bachelor and bachelorette parties. Really? I've never heard of a couple's shower. I'm not convinced this has happened more than a few times.

I also just... skip stuff. I don't go to bachelorette parties at all, I usually skip showers. If I do go to a shower, I either bring a gift to the shower or the wedding, but not both. It is really awkward to be the person not participating fully. Luckily (or really, by design) my friends all are pretty chill about this stuff - it's their older relatives who really want it to take place. So they aren't concerned if I don't show up.

When my old coworkers would tell me about their gender reveal parties, I always wanted to ask "so what kind of genitals does your fetus have?" but I thought that might not be good for my career.

In general I guess my issue is, I just want to go to a fun party. Buying gifts and watching people open them is the least fun party I can think of. I would much rather people just were in the habit of gathering to enjoy each other's company regularly.

I should start hosting Nothing in Particular parties.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:55 AM on December 3 [4 favorites]


"we're going to ram an army truck into a camo cake and then explode the whole thing because our fetus is male" type of party? Yeah, that's awful

I... may be changing my opinion of gender reveal parties if an exploding truck/cake is on the menu. I was ignorant, forgive me. A truck/cake explosion is a great reason to go to a party.
posted by some loser at 8:56 AM on December 3 [10 favorites]


Emmy Rae: yes please! The more Timon the merrier!
posted by theatro at 8:56 AM on December 3 [1 favorite]


I wonder if it's a regional thing or (my suspicion) a class thing?

It might be neither of these, but rather something to do with how fixed gender roles seem to you (so correlated with, but not exactly, conservative-liberal). I'd find it deeply weird to be invited to one of these because it seems so gender-essentialist and my friends are not. Also I don't have that many friends.

There's probably a class dimension as well, though, just because if you're broke you don't have money to throw another party.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:56 AM on December 3 [3 favorites]


So, I legit thought that the “gender-reveal” party referenced in all the news stories about the fire was about a trans person revealing their gender to friends.

(And I can’t imagine having a gender reveal party for an incipient baby...but I was very superstitious when I was pregnant due to family history of miscarriages and my own.)
posted by leahwrenn at 8:57 AM on December 3 [6 favorites]


> Check the "children's meal" box. If there is no box like that just write in "Children's meal." The caterer will usually do it/have it even if they don't put it on the invitation. You will get chicken fingers and fries.

A few years ago I was at a wedding where I'd requested the vegetarian option, which turned out to be a gross, heavily overdressed salad. I ate a few bites and spent the rest of the meal wondering if anyone would notice if I stole the chicken fingers and fries a kid at the same table as me barely touched (I didn't, but I wish I had).
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:57 AM on December 3


I should start hosting Nothing in Particular parties.

We threw a party one year for Orthodox Easter. We are not Orthodox but we have a big table and wanted an excuse to cook Greek food for our friends. (We are also not Greek, but Greek food is tasty.)
posted by madcaptenor at 8:58 AM on December 3 [6 favorites]


"More seriously: I wonder if the desire to mark these milestones comes from a lack of ceremony."

This is literally what my masters' thesis was about -- ceremonies and lack thereof, specifically around pregnancy but also in general, and how people create strange commercialized rituals around life passages when religion/culture doesn't provide adequate ritual support. So YES, the lack of cultural/religious ceremonies, especially around women's life passages (even for the religious, most mainstream American faiths don't provide a lot of ritual support around menarche, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, etc.), has a lot to do with the explosion of commercialized celebrations and quasi-rituals around these things.

"I was still a little taken aback by the "I'd want to know so I could plan!" responses we got from some people."

I initially thought I wouldn't want to know, we didn't care if it was a boy or a girl, and all the baby stuff we bought was yellow and green for ease of re-use, but when the time came I desperately wanted to know just because I felt so freaking out-of-control the whole time I was pregnant (like literally having no control over the process), and it felt like one tiny piece of information I could have and I could feel less out-of-control and helpless by nailing down that ONE (meaningless) variable, among the bazillion variables I couldn't control or even know until they happened.

In my experience a lot of the "I'd want to know so I could plan" people are people like me who just don't cope real well with uncertainty, and pregnancy is nothing BUT uncertainty. Even though it didn't change any ACTUAL PLANS, I felt like I "could plan" better once I had one actual thing I knew about this barf-inducing co-inhabitant of my body. All three times finding out made me feel more like "a person who is pregnant and making decisions" and less like "a scared animal to whom this horrible thing is happening." (But I had really miserable pregnancies.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:00 AM on December 3 [39 favorites]


I mean, Boss’s Day? Where I work, and at every job I’ve ever had, every fucking day is Boss’s Day.

I always forget about Boss' Day because it always just blends together with the rest of the White History Month celebrations.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:02 AM on December 3 [17 favorites]


Uh....dude,

That's Ms. Dude to you!

right here in this thread there's a pullquote from the article which discusses a couple who was pressured into having a party by their relatives, even though they were just fine with the whole leaving-it-a-mystery thing and not having a party.

Yes. My experience is that this is not typical (especially for the "new" celebrations, which haven't been around long enough to feel traditional and expected), and also that the rhetoric from the majority of people complaining about it does not track with that.
posted by praemunire at 9:03 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


Where I work, and at every job I’ve ever had, every fucking day is Boss’s Day.

You work for Bruce Springsteen?
posted by FJT at 9:04 AM on December 3 [12 favorites]


So, I legit thought that the “gender-reveal” party referenced in all the news stories about the fire was about a trans person revealing their gender to friends.

That would be cool, I'd like to go to one of those.
posted by holborne at 9:06 AM on December 3 [5 favorites]


We didn't know the gender of our first child so no parties for us. However, I did like that after an emergency c-section, I looked up at my husband to see what we had had, and he delightedly told me that it was a baby. Which in my addled state made me laugh uncontrollably. After a few beats he updated me further.
posted by recklessbrother at 9:09 AM on December 3 [26 favorites]


I have been trying to do a seasonal afternoon tea but nobody takes an invitation for "tea, sandwiches, cake, and yarn crafts" seriously.

Oh, Mizu, I'm so sad I don't live in Seattle so I could help you start this fabulous tradition!
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 9:13 AM on December 3 [10 favorites]


That's Ms. Dude to you!

I apologized for my calling some of these parties narcissistic, but I stand by the assertion that "dude" is currently becoming a gender-neutral term, dangit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:13 AM on December 3 [13 favorites]


Then just have a party. You don't need a reason to get together, get drunk, and celebrate

I think some people do? I went to a stag party some years ago that comprised about fifteen men getting the train to the groom's home city then spending a weekend eating curries, playing minigolf and laserquest, drinking rather too much, and disgracing ourselves on various dancefloors across the city. All totally standard "lads on tour" activities. On the way back, more than one of the guys said it had been an awesome weekend and that they wished they could do it more often. Which led to a very confusing conversation in which I was arguing that well... they could: you don't actually have to prove that you're on a stag do in order to buy train tickets. Even without travelling, almost all the party's guests lived in London, which has a functionally infinite supply of fun things to do. But consensus was that without a central event to celebrate it wouldn't be the same, somehow... we could just go out and have fun together, but what would be the point?

Like Mizu says above, it can be surprisingly hard to interest people in events that are built around "let's do this fun thing", rather than "let's celebrate [pretext] by doing this fun thing".

Some of this is because many people need to give themselves permission to break their routine/obligations, and an activity that's "just" fun with some friends is too frivolous. Some is because many people like ceremony and need an occasion to have some symbolic or emotional heft in order to fully enjoy it, lest it feel hollow and pointless.* I think some too is because certain events give people an ironclad excuse to break from their public-facing persona: yes we're a group of (mostly) young chartered accountants, but it's a stag do so it's expected that we spend a weekend drinking and dancing with our friends.

*Like my relative who loves Christmas pudding to the point that it's a high point of his Christmas day, but looks at me with blank incomprehension when I suggest buying extra to eat on other days.
posted by metaBugs at 9:14 AM on December 3 [22 favorites]


"dude" is currently becoming a gender-neutral term, dangit

Laverne Cox has stated that "hey girl" is a gender neutral greeting as well and I trust her authority on this matter.
posted by Emmy Rae at 9:16 AM on December 3 [20 favorites]


I just feel like some of the commentary is anti-woman things, because who are bridal showers usually for? Women. Who are baby showers usually for? Women. Weddings celebrate the bride. Who goes to gender reveal parties? I really don't know. (I have not been to any, but lots of folks announce, and some in-laws recently had one at a bar where betting was involved and it was a third girl.)

Who do I get to see at bridal showers and baby showers and baby's first birthday parties that I don't normally get to see? My female extended family members - many of whom live hours away. (Who doesn't even fucking show up to any of my kid's parties? Male extended family members - even ones that live in the same houses as the female family members who attend. Looking at you, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY KID'S UNCLES. *ahem*)

Who usually orders and sends the Save The Date cards because they are a courtesy for the guests to plan ahead? Women.

Anyhoo, I'm going to go RTFA now.
posted by jillithd at 9:19 AM on December 3 [27 favorites]


The man’s gender-reveal party ended up burning 47,000 acres of parched state land, and cost $8.2 million to extinguish.

I'm generally on Team Any Excuse To Throw A Party, but I feel like this is one of those sentences that could perfectly describe 2018 to someone in, say, 1968. It even sounds like one of headlines in Stand on Zanzibar.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:20 AM on December 3 [13 favorites]


Well, here's the wedding industrial complex in all it's glory. Down to aspirational TV shows featuring dresses, weddings, and houses.

I am SO GLAD that my wife and her mother had a falling out planning one of these big things, and a few years later, we ended up going to city hall on Tuesday morning and getting married.

All of our friends were already in town for the Sat, Sun, Mon Grateful Dead shows.

It was indeed, a party.
posted by mikelieman at 9:20 AM on December 3 [5 favorites]


My wife and I have a copy of The Tightwad Gazette, which really goes all out in terms of promoting thriftiness (sometimes excessively so, imho), but the one exception I can remember the author making was for weddings, which goes to show how ingrained the whole "IT'$ YOUR $PECIAL DAY!!!" thing is.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:23 AM on December 3


Penis or Vagina? Join us to find out!
posted by bwvol at 9:31 AM on December 3 [3 favorites]


Intersex babies should get multiple cakes
posted by Mizu at 9:33 AM on December 3 [11 favorites]


Mizu right with you! Just googled out of curiosity and saw a stat that said five intersex babies are born every day in the US, one every two days in Canada. That's a broad definition of intersex, not limited to babies born with differing external genitalia, but still.
posted by wellred at 9:36 AM on December 3


Intersex babies should get multiple cakes

Yes! More cake for everyone.
posted by bwvol at 9:38 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


The cake is a lie.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:43 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


I work with a woman who was going to a gender reveal party for twins. She bought 4 outfits - 2 boys and 2 girls, plus 3 gift bags in pink, blue and yellow/green. Her plan was to run out to her car to wrap the gifts right after the reveal, wrap the appropriate gifts in the appropriate packaging, then return the outfits that were not used.

(This same woman sent out a save the date for her wedding that included a picture of her dragging her fiancee on the beach, away from the words HELP ME written in the sand. She later hosted a "wheels or heels" gender reveal party when she was pregnant).
posted by elvissa at 9:49 AM on December 3 [13 favorites]


Part of me wants to say whatever floats her boat, but another part of me notices how much it hurts my sister-in-law when my nephew is treated as a peer to a cocker spaniel.
I don't doubt other people's experiences. But, as a kid who grew up in a household where dog birthday parties were given the same weight as human ones, I thought it was great. More parties! And the cake was savory and meat-flavored, unlike human birthday cake which is universally terrible. (As an adult, I've learned to just tell people "I hate cake." 'Cause the polite approach I used to try, "please give me the smallest possible slice," never works, and then I just feel bad for throwing most of it away.) Watching dogs struggle to unwrap gifts was a lot more fun than most of my actual childhood birthday presents.

On the actual topic, my entire exposure to genital reveal parties has been limited to snarky trans and queer friends reposting videos of hilariously disastrous ones on social media. I'm still not entirely convinced they're a real thing and not the invention of some late night comedy show I haven't seen.
posted by eotvos at 9:49 AM on December 3 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: No stupid rat holidays.
posted by infini at 9:51 AM on December 3 [5 favorites]


I eloped. It was the best. Highly recommend it, especially for couples with at least one narcissistic parent.

Also, I am dying to attend a gender reveal party for a trans person. I would be 100% on board for that.
"More seriously: I wonder if the desire to mark these milestones comes from a lack of ceremony."

This is literally what my masters' thesis was about -- ceremonies and lack thereof, specifically around pregnancy but also in general, and how people create strange commercialized rituals around life passages when religion/culture doesn't provide adequate ritual support.
Um. Eyebrows, we need to talk. Can I memail you about this?
posted by Sophie1 at 9:54 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


a "wheels or heels" gender reveal party

I had to think way too long about this. My initial reaction was: "What does needing a wheelchair have to do with one's gender?"
posted by asnider at 10:02 AM on December 3 [9 favorites]


I had to think way too long about this. My initial reaction was: "What does needing a wheelchair have to do with one's gender?"

I still don't get it, tbh.
posted by holborne at 10:04 AM on December 3 [3 favorites]


> I had to think way too long about this. My initial reaction was: "What does needing a wheelchair have to do with one's gender?"

I still don't get it, tbh.


"Wheels" = "cars" = "the baby is a boy".
"Heels" = "high-heeled shoes" = "the baby is a girl".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:07 AM on December 3 [1 favorite]


omigod i've just realized I speak suburban-instagram-addict
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:08 AM on December 3 [17 favorites]


I assumed "wheels" = bicycles, because of the true fact that only boys can ride bikes.
posted by witchen at 10:12 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


"Um. Eyebrows, we need to talk. Can I memail you about this?"

Of course!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:14 AM on December 3 [1 favorite]


"Eloping" and getting married in my own art studio building with like 4 people in attendance was AWESOME and I highly recommend it.

I do feel like I get cheated out of birthday celebrations, though, since my birthday is right after Christmas. Maybe I'll pick a ceremonial birthday in the spring or summer, like the Queen.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:27 AM on December 3 [5 favorites]


"wheels or eels" - only girls can fish, become sushi chefs or retail the traditional English eel pie because of their affinity for the mighty ocean.

"Peels or heels" - only boys can become citrus farmers or bell-ringers, for reasons I've not really established.

"Creels or appeals" - fishing versus fund-raising!

"Pastilles or glockenspiels" - traditional candy-making versus founding an avant-garde percussion combo!

"Meal deals versus teal cornmeal" - thrifty restauranteur or ancient-grains enthusiast!

I'm actually sort of into this now.
posted by Frowner at 10:28 AM on December 3 [51 favorites]


I get that baby sex is a surprise, one of the last true surprises in life, but... isn't it a surprise no matter WHEN you find out? When the kid was on the way, we wanted to know sex ASAP because my wife hates waiting. It made planning easier. I mean, if we were having a girl, I'd have needed to clear out the garage to get space to store all the pink frilly bullshit my mother in law would have immediately purchased. Thank god the kid is a boy, we dodged the pink frilly bullet... my wife is decidedly NOT girly but her mother never seemed to figure out that Mrs. Frogs hates that kind of gender-stereotyped crap and would not have wanted it in her house or on her kid. So instead we have this fun boy with long hair who dressed up as a purple sparkly narwhal for Halloween. It confuses my MIL, and that makes me enjoy it even more.

I don't get the trend on spending so much for so many parties either. Best advice my father in law ever gave me was "spend more on the honeymoon than you do on the wedding"... because the honeymoon is for YOU, and you actually have time to remember what the fuck happened. Having said that, our wedding was cheap, and so was the honeymoon. We had a blast and didn't go broke.

My pet peeve is destination weddings. Yeah, it's great for you to go to Tahiti for your Special Day, but why do you have to make everyone else in your extended family do it too? Or make us feel bad that we can't afford the cost or don't have the time off? Do your honeymoon on your own time.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:50 AM on December 3 [10 favorites]


I took my daughters to their cousin's First Moon Party, and a few years later to my stepdaughter's Sex Reveal Party. After both occasions they begged me never to do that to them.

Now one daughter is getting married. No bachelor or hen party, no shower, no rehearsal dinner, no registry. Just a church wedding + reception that's not a meal. Since she doesn't have time for a shower, the church ladies are providing food for the reception! I'm all for throwing a party, but you really don't need a reason -or an obligation.
posted by Miss Cellania at 10:52 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


I mean, baby showers, at least, seem fair. This person is growing a whole second person, gifts seem like the least you can do. In fact, based on how isolated new mothers are, it IS the least people do.
Gender reveal parties make me want to barf, though. Maybe it's just because I'm a humorless lesbian, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by wellifyouinsist at 10:54 AM on December 3 [8 favorites]


People are thinking way too hard about this. The reason all this stuff is more popular is: Instagram. In the past. there was no Instagram, so why have party if you couldn't post filtered-all-to-shit photos with barely any contrast to social media?

So, as with most things that are different now verses about 2011 and before: People are doing it for the 'Gram.
posted by sideshow at 11:04 AM on December 3 [11 favorites]


Let me introduce you to this extremely Pentecostal family and their hair bow fetish.

Some people don't want real human children, they want living dolls to play dress-up with.
posted by aiglet at 11:13 AM on December 3 [7 favorites]


My problem with gender reveal parties as well as all the extra parties around weddings is that for some people, they are just an excuse for getting more gifts and/or money. For babies, gifts for a reveal, another for a baby shower (sometimes multiple baby showers); for weddings, gifts for engagement parties, wedding shower(s), bachelorette/bachelor parties, &etc. It is TOO MUCH, imho. But maybe it's a class thing, as suggested upthread. I'm wondering if gender reveals are supposed to take the place of traditional baby showers, so that both men and women feel free to attend?
posted by cass at 11:25 AM on December 3 [4 favorites]


as I understand it, people of a certain youthful age (i.e. the same age as the couple) never bother to plan ahead for anything anyway

Yeah, I think that's a stereotype and not actually the case. People do plan stuff in advance in their 20s and 30s, which is the age most people tend to get married, and often further in advance than the couple getting married want to send their invitations out by. And some of that stuff—like going on vacation, which nonrefundable tickets have made a high-stakes endeavor—is really difficult or expensive to reschedule.

So the idea of the 'Save the Date' is basically so people can pencil in that weekend, in advance of all the details that need to be factored into the formal invitations getting worked out. It avoids putting guests in the awkward position of having to choose between your wedding and, say, throwing away several hundred dollars in nonrefundable $WHATEVER that they happened to have lined up for that weekend, not expecting anything else to come up.

FWIW, electronic 'Save the Date' notifications seem to be pretty popular. But even sending paper postcards are pretty cheap relative to the cost of a wedding in general.

Where there has been a weird cost-creep is to things like save the date refrigerator magnets and stuff. That I don't understand, especially since an increasing number of modern appliances are made from stainless steel (or plastic made to look like stainless) and magnets don't stick to them. That's the wedding-industrial complex for you.

And I agree with the overall thesis that modern secular society doesn't provide enough rituals, therefore creating an opportunity which Capitalism, by its nature, tries to fill as expensively and resource-consumptively as possible. But the driving force isn't the commercialization, that's just the market doing what it does; the demand is for ritual. I am reminded of a quote from Neal Stephenson, that a major function of religion is to "offe[r] a repertoire of ceremonies that were used to add a touch of class to such goings-on as shacking up with someone and throwing dirt on a corpse". But rituals were never the sole province of religion; we seemingly let that become the case in relatively recent history in the West. I am all for pushing back against that, and creating secular rituals and traditions that fill the need people have to commemorate particular moments (among other functions that rituals can have), ideally without the conspicuous-consumption angle, or at least without that being the pure focus of the thing.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:35 AM on December 3 [9 favorites]


I thought that "wheels or heels" might refer to Heelys, so if your kid was "wheels" they'd be a skater and "heels" would be whatever sk8ers called mundanes.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:52 AM on December 3 [3 favorites]


It seems obvious to me that the ca. 10 year old timing on "gender reveal parties" closely matches the deliberate political mobilization of opposition to trans* rights as a wedge issue (bathroom bills, etc). When challenged, many cultural phenomena at first harden and accentuate before they accommodate. Gender Reveal parties, which are a public affirmation of gender duality and a kind of prenatal rite of passage by which the fetus becomes gendered, would be a classic example of this anthropological phenomenon (not all people who have such parties would be transphobic of course, but then not all people over-think the cultural environment they are in, and the parties can be both fun and offensive).

See also: 3 Ways That Gender Reveal Parties Can Be Harmful — Plus 3 Awesome Alternatives
posted by Rumple at 12:30 PM on December 3 [13 favorites]


I don’t think it’s so bad that in an age where so many people feel alienated, they’ll find things to celebrate together. Yeah, obviously people can turn those into new social pressures and obligations, and capitalism will of course make life events into commodities. But I can’t fault people for wanting to celebrate things (setting aside the politics of gender reveal parties, which I do think are problematic at best).

Don’t forget that my generation is generally not marking some of the milestones that used to be more common. I didn’t grow up religious, and I never had any kind of coming-of-age ceremony. I’m not getting married because of student debt. We’re not buying a house because we can’t afford one. We’re not having kids. The kind stuff I might celebrate could look frivolous to you, but this kind of stuff is genuinely meaningful to people whose life circumstances aren’t always stable. It doesn’t hurt to be a little kinder to people who would otherwise feel a little more directionless.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:12 PM on December 3 [9 favorites]


That's a great article, Rumple.

I've been biting my tongue about gender reveal parties because it's really not my place to say what an expectant parent is allowed to do, but it still really rubs me the wrong way. Maybe 30 years ago I could see it, but come on, how tone deaf do you have to be in current society to gender an unborn person??
posted by blurker at 1:14 PM on December 3 [8 favorites]


On a recent episode of Ologies, Katherine Spiers pointed out that due to its puritanical roots, America doesn't do as many holidays as other countries (c.f. the dozens and dozens of Catholic Feast Days). And she suggests Americans have an anxiety about celebrating too much (not as common to have wine with dinner every night), and tend to compress festivity into fewer holidays (that they then overdo).

Maybe Americans are feeling this celebration gap and making up for it by replacing communal festivals with individual life events?


Similarly, I thought that now that we're heading back into feudalism, with fewer and fewer of us having resources enough to take a full break from working (and/or work bleeding over into what should be our personal time), we're going to make like peasants and cook up myriad ways to bunk off and feast, at least for a few hours. Except American, so, as stated above, far more individualistically than communally.

Now gender reveal parties ,(as if baby showers weren't already gender essentialist enough.) I see as an indicator--together with a broad range of other social trends--that straights (of which I am one) are weird, anxious, and definitely not okay. The main ways we cope with our sex-role anxiety is through aggressively gendered social media campaigns (No Shave November, breast cancer awareness things, etc. . .) and buying aggressively gendered products. The gender reveal party lets you do both at once! And film/post it as proof that you do all the cisgendered things! Then all your cisgendered friends and family can reaffirm that you sure are that gender, alright!
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:24 PM on December 3 [6 favorites]


I recently made a solemn promise to one of my best friends that if I ever get married, she will not be a bridesmaid. Because there will be no bridesmaids. She was appreciative.
posted by bunderful at 2:29 PM on December 3 [1 favorite]


My niece had a gender reveal party last year. As a casual and somewhat eye-rolly observer, I think a huge part of it (and other celebration creep like promposals and kindergarten graduations and dog Halloween costumes and the whole 🙄🙄🙄 bit) is very much more the performative social media aspect rather than a reification of the assigned-at-birth-or-prior gender binary. If there's anything she's attempting to confirm and conform to, it's her performative belonging to middle-class existence that in most ways will be sadly out of her reach for a long time. I felt a bit conflicted about it because it was a financial/time strain on my also-financially-struggling and perpetually time-strapped sister who footed the bill and calls me up to complain, but on the other hand my sister also has her rituals of middle-class performivity that she kinda sorta squeezes into a working-class budget and I long ago decided it's just not useful or kind to criticize.
posted by drlith at 2:50 PM on December 3 [7 favorites]


My sister did a gender reveal that involved filming her then two-year-old daughter eating a cupcake with colored frosting inside. The color of the frosting was supposed to tell her whether she was going to get a new baby brother or sister.

After taking a couple bites, she confidently informed the family that she was getting a new baby cupcake.

It stuck, too.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:52 PM on December 3 [19 favorites]


(And yes, I fully agree that gender reveals are all kinds of problematic and can't go away fast enough.)
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:54 PM on December 3 [2 favorites]


The 'save the date' cards are super useful to those of us with limited vacation time and family that's all over the country.

A lot of things that seemed like consumerist American excess now make a lot more sense since I moved far from most of my extended family. Who needs an extra bedroom other than status-obsessed McMansion dwellers? Oh right, parents who would like their kids' grandparents to visit once in a while.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 3:16 PM on December 3 [8 favorites]


Is it inherently wrong to do something for the 'Gram?
posted by airmail at 3:53 PM on December 3 [2 favorites]


Is it inherently wrong to do something for the 'Gram?

I think years of being called a hipster have made me deeply skeptical of the idea that people are doing stuff just for Instagram. I'm used to hearing this argument that people don't genuinely like or appreciate something, and that they're just trying to look the part. Hipsters don't really like the thing, they like it ironically; a celebration isn't really about the thing, it's about showing off online. In other words, here's how to take someone's interests and devalue it.

I'm sure there are some people who really do just want to show off or be ironic or whatever, but having heard these assumptions about my own interests for years (try being a hipster guy who likes country music), I'm not convinced that it's true in most cases. Unless they make their living on Instagram, most people are probably photographing stuff they like because they like it and they want to share it. I think the effect of Instagram is more that people get curated views of only the good parts in each other's lives, not that they're totally shallow and superficial to begin with.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:11 PM on December 3 [8 favorites]


People said the same thing in a recent post about "hidden gem" restaurants getting overrun. "Oh, people just go so they can Instagram it." And I was thinking, maybe no, maybe people just go because everyone says the place is really good and they want to get really good food. Same deal with "Instagrammable" celebrations and parties.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:13 PM on December 3 [4 favorites]


I'm sure it's not a coincidence that Instagram is the most female-coded of the big social media sites.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:20 PM on December 3 [6 favorites]


Arrests after street fight at baby gender reveal party

hey so, turns out "gender reveal party" is a pretty good Google News alert
posted by jameaterblues at 5:37 PM on December 3 [4 favorites]


I would be more skeptical that people do things "for Instagram" if, first, I didn't have friends who are always fucking instagramming to the detriment of actual human interaction, and second, if I hadn't encountered a various kinds of gross, inedible/undrinkable food that people around me have actually purchased in order to photograph. I have witnessed someone photograph an item and then throw it away.

But! My problems with "doing it for instagram" are really only about situations where there's constant photography such that the whole event becomes about the photos or where the food is gross because it's, eg, cakes with so much food coloring that they taste off. It's not ineffable questions about people's motives so much as the ways in which the pressure to produce lots of popular content contour social occasions.

I will admit that the constant pressure to be in photos which will then be posted to the internet really bothers me, especially since I know a number of people who have been stalked and have to try to keep their pictures off the internet, and snap-happy people can actually imperil them. The assumption that everyone wants to be photographed all the time with no permission needed annoys me a lot.
posted by Frowner at 5:55 PM on December 3 [7 favorites]


So, I legit thought that the “gender-reveal” party referenced in all the news stories about the fire was about a trans person revealing their gender to friends.

So did I, until I started reading the comments in this thread. The misconception version sounds like a lot more fun to me, honestly; I would love to be invited to one of those.

(As an adult, I've learned to just tell people "I hate cake." 'Cause the polite approach I used to try, "please give me the smallest possible slice," never works, and then I just feel bad for throwing most of it away.)

Are you me? The one good thing about all the Atkins/low carb diet stuff is that it seems to have made saying "no thanks" to cake less likely to cause comment, which I appreciate.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:57 PM on December 3


There's also sort of a social media treadmill effect, where if you have a diverse group of friends spread across the plethora of platforms currently in use, it's hard to figure out what you should use if you just want to post something you're excited about to share it with your friends.

Instagram seems to be the one with the broadest reach today (at least, for me—YMMV of course). You post something there, and it flows through to Twitter and FB, and in one swoop you've pretty much ensured nobody is going to be left out by virtue of: thinking Facebook is for old people, thinking Instagram is for the kids, hating Facebook, hating Twitter, etc. (Of course it does nothing for people who hate both Facebook and Twitter, but in my experience those people just aren't that into social media and probably don't care about the crazy vanifesto I just spotted or whatever.)

But I'm sure in a year it'll be something else. I'm kinda hoping it's Mastodon, personally. Though I think it's actually shaping up to be group messages on (Facebook-but-not-branded-as-FB) Messenger, which is an interesting trend in itself because it's not public, but not as twee as Snapchat.

And yeah, I am not sure about the "people just do it for Instagram" thing, except maybe for the small number of people who self-identify as IG "influencers" (and who will all be first against the wall on the morning I become Social Media Dictator). Even people who are doing something performative "for Instagram" are presumably doing it for people they interact with on Instagram, not for Instagram itself. While it may be insulting to have someone ignore you in order to interact with someone on the other end of their phone, but that's what they're doing. The rudeness in that behavior shouldn't have anything to do with the app or platform they're using, but instead the inherent impoliteness of using a phone when someone else is sitting right there and can't participate in that interaction.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:20 PM on December 4


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