越来越奢侈的派对 —— 追求独特的病毒性特技的推动 —— 反映了父母在我们的 “关注经济” 中面临的一些新的奇怪压力。
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Over Labor Day weekend, two expectant parents didn’t get the viral hit they had hoped for. During a gender reveal party in Southern California, a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” was supposed to simply reveal a color – pink for a girl, blue for a boy – before a crowd of onlookers. Instead, it sparked a wildfire that has scorched more than 10,000 acres of land. As a sociologist who studies how social media is used to navigate gender, identity and life transitions, I’ve watched gender reveal parties become their own mini-industry over the past decade.
Guesswork Gives Way to Certainty
Gendering children prior to birth is a unique phenomenon of the 20th century.
Custom cakes, themed party supplies, confetti cannons, smoke bombs and t-shirts are designed to create the perfect Instagram post. Celebrity and influencer gender reveals are vehicles for brand sponsorships, product placements and media coverage.
Parents, particularly mothers, already face intense scrutiny and cultural expectations of “ideal motherhood,” whether it’s the decision to breastfeed, have a “natural birth” or go back to work. Whether or not to have a gender reveal has become yet another “choice” that expectant parents must make.
Even the decision not to have a gender reveal becomes a form of social media currency. For example, social media influencer Iskra Lawrence announced on Instagram that she would not have a gender reveal – and included sponsored links to a clothing brand in the post.
But distilling a gender reveal party down to the foolish choices of expectant parents ignores the cultural and economic forces that shape these decisions. It allows us to mock individuals for their parenting decisions rather than criticize the attention economy for having incentivized these reveals.
We have the excesses of capitalism to thank for a rapidly changing climate that has worsened fires raging throughout the American West.
Is a fire burning thanks to a gender reveal party fueled by anything different?