February 10, 2015

I Use Prince/ss In All Of My Decorating: The 'Gender Reveal Room'

we'll do muted blues and silvers. image: probably jack and jill interiors via wsj

Alright, this has stymied me for days now. I've just gotta push it out there.

Buried in the slideshow captions of the Wall Street Journal's princess nursery shopporntainment article today was what seems like an actually new trend. Which means it might not be too late to stop it. Of course, I'm talking about the "Gender Reveal Room."

It's basically just like a gender reveal cake, except instead of sending the ultrasound to the bakery, you send it to the decorator.:

Ms. Urs asked her designer Sherri Blum Schuchart, owner of Jack and Jill Interiors, for a "gender-reveal room." Ms. Schuchart designed two rooms--one for a boy, one for a girl--and, unbeknownst to Ms. Urs and her husband, installed the boy version. The family had never seen the results of the ultra sound and didn't know they were expecting a boy. They saw the room for the first time when they brought their son, Luke, home from the hospital, Ms. Urs said.
Huh. There are several things going on here, including a similarity to the Jewish tradition of not putting the nursery together before the kid comes. Which, mazeltov. All for it.

Let's go in order: Gender. This "prince" thing exposes the sheer lunacy of princessness. We just don't do it. It is forced and feels and sounds odd. Boys don't need to be called a prince to feel "special"; they're boys. The world is already warped in their favor. And this persistent but unjustifiable inequity is the foundation of the entire princess paradigm. They're two sides of the same discriminatory coin. Reducing gender to a pink/blue color binary only forefronts the most superficial aspects of gender differences, it reinforces the bias that comes with it. From the very, very beginning.

Next: Reveal. After the enormous hype and celebration of the lifechanging birth of the first one, it turns out there is absolutely nothing interesting about having a second kid. No one cares, not even you. There is no mystery, no anticipation, no excitement, not even that much shopping. It's just running down the pregnancy clock, and then some paperwork and a bunch of diapers again. So desperate, bored, ignored parents turn to the suspense of the ultrasound, and try to hype that into an event that gets attention from their distracted friends and family. And having 50 people in your OB's office looking for genetic defects and a penis is not gonna happen, and neither inviting people to the opening of an envelope, so the gender reveal cake was born.

Do you need to have the flaws in this logic chain pointed out one by one, or can we toss the entire thing into the garbage? Gender reveal cakes are reality TV stunts cooked up by the Duggars, who had to figure out a way to turn having 25 kids into watchable television. You, normal person, do not need it. It is performance. And a nursery? How does that even work? You just determine not to open the door after the decorator's done? That will not work.

In our childbirth class, there was one couple where the mom did not know the gender of the kid, but the dad did. And holy smokes was it obvious within 30 seconds what the secret was, and how that information asymmetry and cognitive dissonance was basically a power tripping stress mess between them. I mention this now because you know that at some point between decorating weekend babymoon and delivery room, the dad took a peek into that gendered nursery and then had to act surprised later. You know he did.

And anyway, look this kid's crib and tell me how anything besides the color palette is different for Prince Luke vs. Princess Leia. It is a Decorator Vision through and through, with enough soft bedding and bows and ruffles and last-minute-personalized objets to smother whatever gender of kid ends up there. And while I wish nothing but happiness and joy for the Urses, this gender reveal nursery thing just should not be.

Buried the lede: Gender Reveal Nursery [wsj]
Previously, disastrously related: The Four Sponsors Of The Apocalypse: Gender Reveal Twitter Party
Area Man Says That Gender Reveal Cake Is A Freakin' Uterus, Dude
Don't Think About C-Sections When You Cut That Gender Reveal Cake

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