After an effort to create a viral gender reveal video resulted in an explosion near Knoxville that killed a grandmother-to-be, an Internet blogger believed to be the beginning of gender reveal parties regrets what the trend has become.
The fatal explosion near Knoxville, reported Saturday, Oct. 26, was one of two in Iowa that weekend related to a gender reveal party. According to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, 56-year old Pamela Kreimeyer was struck in the head by a piece of metal debris. Kreimeyer, the grandmother-to-be, was killed instantly.
The homemade explosive device was made to show the gender of a baby to the expectant parents and family. Authorities say family members had hoped to share a recording of the reveal celebration on social media. The home-made device was inadvertently constructed as a pipe bomb.
The following day, a gender reveal party in Waukee resulted in another explosion. Authorities say the explosion resulted from a device included in a commercial gender reveal kit. There were no injuries or fatalities in that incident.
Gender reveal parties have become an increasingly popular trend. It began in 2008, when blogger Jenna Karvunidis wrote about an event she held for her unborn daughter. Karvunidis and her family cut into a cake together, revealing pink icing inside. She then wrote about the event on her blog, and was later featured in a local magazine.
During gender reveal parties, expectant parents and guests create plans to reveal the gender of an unborn baby by revealing shades of either pink for a girl or blue for a boy. The reveals are often recorded and shared on social media.
Although Karvunidis hosted the first-ever gender reveal party, as the trend has advanced into more spectacular exercises she is no longer a fan.
“I think it’s a dangerous trend, and not just physically,” Karvunidis said. “I think the more egregious danger for it really is the social harm it does. This affects many more millions of people. You might get a few people who get hurt from explosives, but you have a larger amount of people who are really hurt socially by the dichotomy it helps reinforce.”
Dr. Randall Renstrom, Associate Professor of Psychology at Central College, agrees, saying he believes the trend itself is odd. The term “gender reveal” is actually a misnomer, he said. Renstrom says these parties actually reveal the baby’s biological sex. Gender identity is different and instead refers to the social, cultural and psychological characteristics used to determine male and female.
“On one hand, you have people being more and more accepting that gender is fluid and gender might change,” Renstrom said. “On the other hand, you have these parties where people are really categorizing or placing their child in a box and kind of discounting the notion of fluidity. It’s just odd to me that those two things are increasing when they’re a bit contradictory.”
Karvunidis, now the mother of three daughters, is a prime example. She said her oldest daughter, believed to be the world’s first gender reveal baby, now wears suits and is “so confident, she’s not affected by anything.”
“The pink and blue, this manly-man and girly-girl dichotomy that it helps reinforce and contributes to, it really limits how girls and women see themselves from the very beginning,” said Karvunidis.
“I hope everybody understands how out of fashion these parties are. We don’t need to have these kinds of parties at all anymore. ... People need to evolve these parties into something else.”