Cautionary Tales of Recklessness, Stupidity, and Insensitivity
Oh, boy — or, perhaps, oh, girl? In a time when gender identity can be far from a person’s assigned sex at birth, many parents-to-be are still making the revelation of a baby’s gender a dramatic event, with aspirations of “going viral” on social media. While experts have said they don’t see the cultural phenomenon of gender reveals going away, in the last few years gender reveals have led to plane crashes, deaths, criminal charges, and civil penalties. Is it time for them to stop, once and for all?
When gender reveals first started, common activities were cutting a cake with blue or pink icing. Is that now so 2008? Was opening a box of colored balloons so 2012?
In the last several years, gender reveals have become attention-grabbing stunts, involving airplanes, explosions, even alligators crunching down on Jello-filled watermelons.
Worse than alligators and jello are the attention grabbing stunts that kill fathers and grandmas to be, and burn thousands of acres of land. Let’s take a look at some of the more idiotic gender reveals and baby shower pyrotechnics that we wish didn’t happen:
#1 The 22,000 Acre Southern California Wildfire
When: Sept. 5, 2020
Where: El Dorado Ranch Park, 37186-, 37254 Oak Glen Rd, Yucaipa, CA 92399
Boy or girl: Unknown.
What happened: The El Dorado Fire was started by a botched gender reveal party during the 2020 Labor Day weekend. The pyrotechnic party went down at the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles, on Sept. 5 2020. The fire burned 22,744-acres over 23 days. Charles Morton, 39, a 14-year veteran firefighter with the San Bernardino National Forest, was tragically killed during fire suppression operations. 13 other firefighters were injured as well.
As of January 2021, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office had started reviewing reports & evidence to determine if criminal charges had been filed, with a filing decision expected no later than March 1, 2021.
#2 The Iowa Grandma Pipe Bomb Death
When: October 26, 2019
Where: A private home in Knoxville, Iowa
Boy or girl: Presumably a boy, based on her obituary.
What happened: According to ABC News, Pamela “Pam” Kreimeyer, a soon-to-be grandmother, was tragically killed when she was struck by shrapnel after her family created a makeshift pipe bomb explosive device. The investigation by the Iowa State Fire Marshall’s Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revealed that “members of the Kreimeyer family were experimenting with different types of explosive material on Friday and Saturday in an attempt to record a gender reveal that could be posted on social media for friends and family.” Kreimeyer was about 45 feet away from the device when it exploded, and was instantly killed when she was struck in the head by a piece of shrapnel.
#3 The 47,000 Acre Arizona Wildfire
When: April 23, 2017
Where: Green Valley, Arizona, south of Tucson.
Boy or girl: Presumably a boy, based on all the blue smoke.
What happened: Off-duty US Border Patrol agent Dennis Dickey packed a target with explosive Tannerite and shot it with a high-powered rifle. It sparked a fire (the Sawmill Fire) in the nearby Coronado National Forest, and eventually burned 46,991 acres of Arizona land. He eventually pled guilty to a misdemeanor violation of US Forest Service regulations and was ordered to pay $8.1 million in restitution. Dickey told a judge the day he started the fire was the worst day of his life.
#4 The Fatal Pipe Explosion in Liberty, New York
When: February 21, 2021
Where: A residence in Liberty, New York.
Boy or girl: Unknown.
What happened: This most recent gender reveal took the life of father-to-be Christopher Pekny, 28, of New York. Michael Pekny, his 27-year-old brother, was also injured when a gender-reveal device they were building, involving a pipe, exploded in their garage. Another brother, Peter Pekny Jrsaid the explosion was “the freakiest of freak accidents that I could ever imagine.”
#5 The Turkey, Texas Plane Crash
When: September 7, 2019
Where: Turkey, Texas
Boy or girl: Presumably, a girl, based on 350 gallons of pink water.
What happened: According to NBC News, a pilot flew a crop-duster sole plane at a low altitude to drop 350 gallons of pink water. Immediately after dropping the water, the plane stalled and crashed. The pilot, Raj Leis Horan, was not injured, and a passenger suffered minor injuries. An FAA inspector also revealed the crop-duster style aircraft was a single-seat airplane, not designed to carry two people.
#6 The Ohio Applebees Gender Reveal Brawl
When: Oct 10, 2018
Where: Applebee’s Grill + Bar, 6691 South Ave, Boardman, OH 44512
Boy or girl: Presumably, a boy, based on blue confetti left behind everywhere.
What happened: According to Fox 8 News, a fight broke out during a gender reveal party. The group of about 20 people were told to pop confetti outside so that other customers would not be disturbed. An argument broke out over who was to clean up the blue confetti. Several members of the group threw menus at employees, and told the hostess they were going to “f– you up. ” It is unclear if any criminal charges were ever filed.
#7 The Non-Gender Reveal Baby Shower Cannon Explosion in Michigan
When: February 6, 2021
Where: A private home in Gaines Township, Michigan
Boy or girl: Unknown.
Earlier this month, Evan Thomas Silva, 26, was tragically killed by flying shrapnel at a baby shower in Gaines Township, Michigan, on the evening of Saturday, Feb. 6th. Although the event was not a gender-reveal, it mirrored some of the other devastating gender-reveal stunts we have seen recently. The family of the man called the event a “blameless accident.”
Looking At Gender Reveals With a 2021 Lens
A search for “gender reveal” on Etsy supplies 109,865 results. You can find exploding pink and blue golf balls, mail-out gender reveal kits, even gender reveal disposable face masks for the COVID-era quarantine gender reveal party. A 277-piece Gender Reveal Party Box sells for $85. Are 277 pieces of party supplies really necessary to tell the world the sex of your child? While most gender reveal ideas are silly and harmless, they often have over-the-top, obnoxious, self-absorbed, and even narcissistic tones.
Many people credit blogger Jenna Karvunidis as the “inventor” of the gender reveal party. Karvunidis popularized the colored-icing trend way back in 2008. She wrote in 2019, “ I’ve felt a lot of mixed feelings about my random contribution to the culture. It just exploded into crazy after that. Literally — guns firing, forest fires, more emphasis on gender than has ever been necessary for a baby. Who cares what gender the baby is? I did at the time because we didn’t live in 2019 and didn’t know what we know now — that assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what’s between their legs.”
If the possibility of a federal investigation, potential gross criminal negligence, burning thousands of acres, or harming your loved ones isn’t enough to stop your gender reveal party, consider the feelings of others, including your unborn child. Genitals don’t always equal gender. Adults can identify as male and female or neither. Babies can be born with genitalia that cannot be categorized as male or female.
So how do we stop gender reveals? It can be as simple as politely but firmly explaining to friends why you won’t go to a gender reveal party or participate in one online. It can be as simple as sharing a blog post or article that supports your feelings.