Last time, I invited you to come up with a more accurate name for gender reveal parties, since what they’re intended to reveal is not, strictly speaking, a baby’s gender (a social construct) but their sex (a biological category).
Many readers, as you will see, expressed their opinions of the parties — but a few took my invitation at face value. For example, Steve DiPaolo, of Harwich, coined exwysee and explained, “A person’s sex (with rare exceptions) is determined by the 23rd chromosome pair (either X- or Y-shaped), so I joined the sounds x and y with see.”
Neil Osterweil, of Holliston, suggested “genitalnalia — especially if the party involves wine or bawdy revelry.” Carol Dyer, of Milton, wrote, “I don’t really believe this would catch on, but it does the job: privates party.”
And Jeanie Kelley, of Abington, proposed “BB/BG party (baby boy or baby girl to be revealed).”Allow me to interject here that if Beethoven’s Fifth were transposed from the key of C minor into E minor, the letters in Jeanie’s acronym would designate the notes in the symphony’s unforgettable opening motif.
On to the readers with opinions masquerading as coinages. Dan Foster, of Stow, wrote, “The new term for a gender reveal party should be girlorboyotathon, as a nod to the car industry’s Toyotathon. A gender reveal party is a manufactured celebration and a thinly veiled excuse to start shopping. There are plenty of balloons at both events, and you’re probably going to be offered a hot dog.”
Sara Arnold, of Clinton, suggested the name “parent reveal party, because if they’re doing a gender reveal, that tells you more about the parents than anything about their baby or its future.”
Geoff Patton, of Ashland, took that idea and ran with it. “In defining gender, you mentioned ‘confines of identity that society imposes,’” he wrote. “That ‘society’ for most children begins prenatally for kids with parents who want to know what their baby’s sex is before they are born. Then they start the gender-imposition process with the color of latex paint with which they will surround them until they are old enough and brave enough to demand a paintbrush and the Sherwin-Williams Store credit card.
“Even if the explosion of social media isn’t the cause of these events, it enables the parental narcissism that drives much of their wretched excess. So let’s call these what they are: gender-imposition parental self-aggrandizement exercises.”
Oof, Geoff! Next time, could you at least try to find a name that makes for a good acronym? GIPSAE ain’t catchy.
Janey Frank, of West Roxbury, however, came straight to the point: “Why not call it what it is — a fundraiser?”
John Decker, of Plymouth, invoked the idea of fundraising too, but in a more idealistic, and complicated, way. His idea was to call the event a yin-yang fundraising party, inasmuch as yin and yang represent femaleness and maleness — and also opposites such as the current situations in the United States and Ukraine. “We are fortunate enough to have the resources for almost the ultimate in frivolity: gender reveal parties,” he wrote. “Ukraine is the ultimate in seriousness, in a life-and-death battle with all the suffering and horrors of war. Gender reveal parties should be an opportunity for us to be thankful for what we have and to support and fund our fellow humans in Ukraine.”
John, I’ve conjured up a humanitarian award just for you, and I hereby bestow on you the right to brag about it. As for bragging rights for the best coinage, I’d like to circle back and award them to Steve DiPaolo, for exwysee.
Now Claudia Springer, of Newton, wants to know: “What should we call drivers who recklessly weave their cars in and out of highway lanes at breakneck speed? I see them frequently and wonder why we don’t have a name for them and also wonder how long they will live.”
Send your ideas to me (no profanity, please!) at Barbara.Wallraff@globe.com by noon on Friday, April 15, and kindly include where you live.
Barbara Wallraff is a writer who lives in Cambridge, Mass., and London.