Why I don't make gender reveal cakes.
Updated: Feb 28
So I’m having a conversation with one of the mums at school about our plans for the weekend. She tells me she’s going to a sex party. Ok, think I, very progressive of you, not really my business...unless she’s inviting me. Is she inviting me? Hang on. Do I want to go? I mean it seems like a lot of effort. While I’m rattling through this in my brain she goes on to explain that quite a few of the mums from school are going and bringing their babies.
Now I’m really confused. Unless maybe they have a creche at this sex party. What a great business idea that would be, I wonder if there’s someone you hire especially for sex parties. She’s still talking, there’s going to be balloons and games and a cake and then they are going to find out if the mum to be is having a boy or a girl. Ah! Suddenly it clicks into place. She’s going to a Gender Reveal party. I’m just about to correct her when I think to myself a) don’t be that person who corrects people when you understand now what they are getting at. And b) actually she's correct, a sex party is a more accurate description of what is going on here.
I don’t know when gender reveal parties became a thing. Maybe it was while I was busy at a sex party. But they have always grossed me out. I couldn’t put my finger on why they gave me this slightly icky feeling, but it was definitely something similar to the feeling I had when I was pregnant and people would ask me if the baby was a girl or a boy. A boy, I’d say. Oh lovely. They’d reply. I am 100% sure if I had said I was having a girl they would have also said, how lovely. So why were they even asking if the response was fixed either way? It was weird.
As I’ve gone on to learn more it has become completely obvious to me that gender is a social construct. What it means to be a boy or a girl is learned, it is not innate. You only have to look at everyone you know to see that it’s a spectrum. With people exhibiting all the traits of masculinity at one end and people exhibiting the traits of femininity at the other end, but the vast majority of people falling somewhere in between. The anatomy of these people is varied along the spectrum. It’s also none of your business. It also makes zero difference to your life. If someone with a penis feels more comfortable as a woman how is that even affecting you? Unless you are that person and you’ve been through a traumatic experience coming to terms with these feelings and had to explain yourself to people time and time again. The person with the trauma gets to decide what makes them feel better.
Now what would be even better than that would be if there was no trauma at all. What if, having seen a penis, or lack thereof, on a scan we didn’t go on to decide what that means about the tiny person we have created. What if we decide to just take that at face value. A fact in and of itself that gives us no more understanding of that person than knowing they have hair.
Chromosomes are complicated. It’s not as simple as what we learned in school back in the day. It’s not that xx chromosomes make girls and xy chromosomes make boys. There’s all kinds of secondary factors that make this issue far more complex than we knew even twenty years ago. Hormones for a start, we all know what they are. And the discovery of the impact of the SRY gene. People are not definiable by their secondary sex characteristics. But biological sex is more clear cut than gender. So if you had to choose between a sex party and a gender party, technically sex party is the more accurate of the two.
But still why? Why are we doing this?
My other, less complicated, answer to the question ‘Do you make gender reveal cakes?’ is ‘Sure, I’ll tell you what. If your cake costs 17.8 percent less than you were expecting that means you’re having a girl.’ While the gender pay gap in this country is still so ridiculously high why are we celebrating gender at all?
98% of my customers identify as women. Is this because people who identify as women like cake more than people who identify as men? Or because they have more birthdays? Or because they have more children? Of course it isn’t. It’s because people who identify as women are expected by default to do the emotional caregiving. They are expected to remember the birthdays, the anniversaries. To be the organisers of events. To make sure that everyone feels valuable, cherished and cared for, while being demonstrably shown that they themselves are demonstrably less valuable by the gender pay gap.
These are massive subjects I am barely touching on here. Whole books have been written about them by people a lot better educated, more articulate and with greater personal experience than me. I suggest if you find any of this thought provoking doing more reading on the subject. I’m happy to provide suggestions if anyone wants to get in touch.
And if you still want a gender reveal cake after you’ve read all this, well that’s up to you. But I am not the cake designer for you.
As an aside I am always happy to be corrected when I am factually inaccurate or if I have used any triggering language. What I’m not happy to be corrected about is that people have the basic right to identify in whatever way makes their life in this world more comfortable. That’s not up for debate.