The Vagenda

(Baby) Shower of Shit: Why I Can’t Get on Board With These Twee Prepartum Parties


This is an actual cake that exists.

If you’re a woman, aged between, let’s say 18 and 45, living in the UK, with the capacity to get pregnant or with female friends or family members with the same capacity, there’s every chance you’ve recently been involved in some way with the most irritatingly twee and unpleasantly grasping American import since Taylor Swift. I speak, of course, of that singularly heinous and exquisite form of torture They (They talk a lot, don’t They?) call the baby shower.

If you haven’t yet had the dubious pleasure, I shall attempt to illustrate the basics for you. There will be a hugely pregnant woman who will almost certainly have been summoned to get dressed up and abandon the comfort of her own home against her will when she would really rather be in her pyjamas/bath/bed, as befits most women in the final stages of gestation. Depending on the nature of said pregnant woman’s social circle, there will either be a cacophony of screechily excited women in their best frocks, or a desolation of mildly baffled women who are questioning their choice to give up a lovely weekend afternoon for this tomfoolery. There will be a load of tacky decorations, often closely resembling something that would like to be the other party in a Cath Kidston suit for copyright infringement. There will be cake. Please note, I’m not complaining about the cake.

There will be some truly appalling games, pandering to multitudes of gender stereotypes and often managing to body-shame pregnant women along the way. And there will be mountains and mountains of extremely mundane presents. You will have to sit and watch while Prego opens them all, and make obligatory appreciative noises. Even if you couldn’t identify the item if your life depended on it.

From what I can gather, baby showers originated in the US and originally involved older, more experienced women of the community gathering at the home of a young expectant mother and ‘showering’ her with advice and helpful tips. It sounds a lot like socially-mandated busybodiness tome, but I imagine it’s the sort of thing that could be quite useful if you’re about to have your firstbaby and haven’t seen it done before. The present aspect came later, progressing through small token gifts through to today’s full-on outbreaks of baby-related consumer goods. And this is wherethe UK came in. There are now entire websites dedicated to throwing the perfect baby shower, as well as websites and shops that offer wish-list services so that the parents-to-be can pre-select exactly what they want their friends to buy to welcome their new arrival.

I’d argue that our overweaning culture of celebrity worship has fuelled the growth in baby showersover here. Rachel on Friends had one. Miranda from out of Sex and the City didn’t want one, but got one, and actually quite enjoyed it. I remember seeing photos in Heat magazine in the early 00s of people like Kate Moss, Sadie Frost and Sharleen Spiteri attending baby showers, accompanied by breathless coverage and exacting details of all the designer articles given as presents (to women who could probably afford to buy anything they wanted for their baby, and would almost certainly be given much of it for free by the designer/manufacturer in exchange for the odd namedrop or pap shot). Later in the decade, Victoria Beckham reportedly received so many gifts at her baby shower for Harper Seven a few years back that she donated most of them to charity. Money well spent for all of her guests there. Most weeks, one or other of the celebrity glossies will feature a pretty pink florally fluffy party thrown for Prego Celeb of the Month, full of cupcakes, cleavages and three-tiered nappy cakes (See above. They are BONKERS).

Last year, we were treated to acres of photos of Kim Kardashian and her guests at a shower that looked approximately 17 times more lavish than the sum total of all the weddings I’ve ever attended, including my own. And just this week, L’il Kim has apparently solicited her own fans for baby shower presents via Twitter. Stay classy, Kim.

Many of these women have had at least one extravagant and highly-publicised wedding, the coverage of which serves to fuel the rampant consumerism of the 21st century wedding industry. It clearly wasn’t hard for someone to realise that lavish celebrations for other life events would be a happy little money-spinner, and piff paff poof, we have the baby shower. Now, please don’t get the idea that I’m some kind of curmudgeonly celebration-refusenik. I’m a bit on the grumpy and anti-social side but when it comes to people I like (not least myself), I quite enjoy celebrating life events.

But I attended a baby shower recently, and established that there are two aspects of this particular genre of celebration that really aggravate me. Firstly, the actual format of them is hideous. I can’t imagine anyone finds them genuinely enjoyable. In the UK, we’ve traditionally waited for the safe arrival of a baby before giving presents, and then you got to decide whether to ask the new parents what they would like or choose or make something yourself. You also got to decide the size/value of your gift, based on whether you’re booked in to be a godparent, tangentially related, or it’s your colleague’s best mate’s daughter-in-law that’s given birth. Baby showers seem to sidestep this aspect of donor control and instead imply a great big ‘OMG I’M HAVING A BABY AND YOU ARE ALL THE PEOPLE I THINK SHOULD BE GIVING ME PRESENTS SO COME TO MY PARTY AND BRING ME ALL THE STUFF.’ It makes the mother-to-be come across like Cartman in South Park directing his little pals on which Mega-Man to buy him for his birthday – his excuse being that he’s only eight (and animated) and so doesn’t know any better. In addition, the ‘fun’ obligatory games are generally appalling. Stick-the-Bottle-on-the-Baby? The kind of thing we grew out of in primary school. Everybody guessing how long a piece of string will be needed to fit all the way round the pregnant belly? Reeks of body-shaming. Passing around disposable nappies that have had chocolate bars melted into them to try and guess which type of confectionery was used? Disgusting, in anyone’s language. And a waste of good chocolate, unless you could bring yourself to actually lick it out of the nappy. Plus, in deference to the expectant mother, there’s generally no alcohol involved, so no hope of obliterating the pain temporarily.

So far, so irritating. But then I begin to struggle with the wider social implications of baby showers. Time and again, women come up against narrow, limited expectations of their capabilities, and feminism has done much to counter these over the last century or so. But baby showers, and their ilk, are really quite problematic. They reinforce those narrow expectations by emphasising which of a woman’s accomplishments should be feted and celebrated – and in the current culture, it’s pretty much getting married (which we’ve been doing for centuries) and getting pregnant/giving birth (which we’ve been doing for millennia). There isn’t a culture of big, lavish, inclusive celebrations for passing your driving test, or getting a proper grown-up job, or graduating from university, or setting up your own business, or successfully persuading somebody to publish something you wrote yourself. Maybe there doesn’t need to be. Maybe the odd congratulatory Facebook message and your own inner glow of satisfaction are sufficient to acknowledge these achievements. But why is an impending birth singled out for such adulation and largesse? It reinforces the idea that, until she has reproduced, a woman has accomplished nothing of note.

As Carrie Bradshaw once noted, ‘Hallmark doesn’t make a ‘Congratulations, you didn’t marry the wrong guy!’ card’. Of course, she was comparing the imbalance between celebrations for marrieds versus singles (which is also annoying), but there is something to note in the way women are celebrated. Lavish weddings and elaborate baby showers may temporarily elevate a woman’s status amongst her social circle, but they effectively serve to limit our perceived socially valid accomplishments to hatching and matching, and so serve to diminish the status of women in society.

And aside from anything else, they make you want to shove matchsticks under your fingernails and peel off your own skin, just to distract yourself from all the chocolatey nappies and gift-wrapped packets of baby wipes. Enough.

- anon

38 thoughts on “(Baby) Shower of Shit: Why I Can’t Get on Board With These Twee Prepartum Parties

  1. Thank God for that…someone finally admitted how horrendous these things are. I’ve been involved in two, one of which I had to ‘co’ arrange. As the token single person/non parent I was deemed qualified to find the venue and arrange the cake and was mercifully spared the nappy/chocolate prep.
    On both occasions any potential joy of the shower is eclipsed early on by the people competitively organizing it who are often responsible for making the attendees feel pressured in to gifts etc.
    That said, anyone looking for a master class in passive aggressive behavior should definitely witness a Facebook group of women attempting to outdo each other with arranging and organizing. It’s breath taking.
    Not to mention the fact that you can’t exactly turn up empty handed a few weeks later when the baby has arrived so end up feeling as though your baby shower offering is basically already redundant.
    Commeth the day, should I ever find myself a mother-to-be, an afternoon of eating pizza, with a last chance to hold a ‘normal’ conversation with my friends before my life changes forever will be far preferable to this awful charade that’s infiltrated our weekends over the last couple of years.

  2. Let me just say, as an American, I find these horribly tacky and I have never been to one. I buy baby gifts when it’s appropriate (family, close friends, etc.), but that’s it. None of my friends has ever thrown a baby shower, and I would be appalled if any of them ever did. And if anyone ever attempted to get me to throw one, I would have their head on a plate. It’s a waste of money and time.

  3. As a feminist about to attend her own baby shower, I feel a bit disappointed by this article. Is having a party to celebrate a mate having a baby anti-feminist? Yeah, I conceed its a bit grabby and consumerist, but no more so than a birthday party (gifts are kind of expected there right? Or at least a drink?), or the much loved stag and hen do’s that can set us all back hundreds. I dont see why getting your mates together (doesnt need to just be ladies) for a drink to celebrate is doing anything against the sisterhood? Not all baby showers need be pastel themed cupcake filled screech fests (I really hate that the writer has tarred all women who attend a shower as excited and screechy – this is the kind of stereotypical shit we are trying to stamp out right?) – my friends and I will be sat chugging wine (well – they will be) and there will be no screeching, there will be no Cath Kidston and no cupcakes. To be honest, this article just doesnt seem that feminist to me – if ladies want to get together and eat cupcakes and talk about babies, and hell, even get excited about a new one coming into this world – why the hell not. Shaming those that want to seems more antifeminist to me.

    • I agree. Also, whilst celebrities who have baby showers may not need, and could afford to buy for themselves, the crap that is needed to look after a small human, I think the average joe would appreciate a nappy cake (nappies are EXPENSIVE!) or toys or whatever. Babies often equal maternity leave and less disposable income floating around, and I like baby showers as it gives me a place to give my pregnant friends something that will be useful once the baby arrives. Giving friends stuff after the baby arrives is well and good, but giving before means the parents have more time to take stock and see what else they may need before they suddenly have way less time.

      • Thanks for this article. It really made me think.

        Personally, I didn’t want people over after my babies arrived, giving gifts – it’s exhausting, not to mention germs. Babies are special – they are new little people after all – and most friends and family want to celebrate the new child.

        There’s another, more covert reason for a baby shower: it gives the mom-to-be something to look forward to besides the baby! Those last few weeks go by soooo slowly – it’s a nice break – and a chance to be supported and encouraged by the people who love you (and the coming child) most! At least, that’s how I felt.

        Besides, I never threw my own showers. Loving friends and family planned them, and I was grateful for the kindness of so many people.

        Being a woman is cool. Having a baby is cool, and it’s one of many events we commemorate in life (graduations, holidays, weddings, births, deaths, etc). Why not celebrate the things that make us human, and that connect us with each other?

        • Yeah, a special little new somebody to contribute to global climate change and a never ending cycle of material wealth accumulation in an already overpopulated planet. Extinction FTW.

    • You are fortunate to have been to at least ONE shower–be it bridal or baby–in which the women weren’t screechy. Not all of the women, but at least a few. “Oh my GOD! That is sooooo a-DOR-able!” I’m feeling annoyed (and rolling my eyes as high as they can roll) just thinking of how many of these exclamations I’ve heard at baby showers as mommy-to-be is unwrapping yet another onesie. At age 55, I’ve been to at least 50 showers to date. I’m on the cusp of declaring “NO MORE!”

      I do not mind buying a gift, although I can understand anyone’s annoyance with even having to buy one. I also like women in general. But get them together for a baby shower, and the discussion turns to poop, pee, diaper rash, breastfeeding, and developmental milestones. “How old is little Jason?” “He’s six months, and he’s about ready to turn over. We can see him wiggling and trying, but he’s not quite there yet. I’m a little concerned, because Ella turned over at five months. Then again, Jason sleeps through the night. Ella was so colicky.” On…and on…and on it goes, from multiple women. SOMEBODY PLEASE SLIT MY THROAT!

      Showers SHOULD be shamed. They MUST be shamed. Change comes from shaming. Perhaps sisters who read the shaming comments will change. In case anyone about to plan a shower is reading this, would it kill you to have a male stripper at one of these galas? Throw a sistah a bone for chrissakes!

  4. I recently had my first ever baby shower, I’ve got 4 boys now and never felt the need with my first three but this time thought why not. Good excuse for an afternoon with my mates, cake, crisps and fizz. I requested no games and no presents although I did get a box of liqueur chocolates and some stretch mark cream. Make the most of your ability to party while the baby is still inside I say!

  5. This article really highlights my biggest beef with baby showers – the absence of men. It’s still frustrating that in modern society babies are still seen as a woman’s concern.

    But I don’t mind the games blah blah. Nor the presents, but why is it only geared at women?

    Also it is a present grab. Not like a birthday party. I have rarely been to a birthday party where presents were shared but I have been to baby showers with gift lists! And why sit around while presents are opened? It’s shaming those without cash!

  6. I dont think baby showers are like that, at least not the ones i attended to (even mine). It’s not what you see in the movies, a big tired woman suffering her pregnancy listening to all the stuff the elders have to say and play games? I mean, i know some people does that, but for some of us, baby showers are a wave goodbye to our pregnancy and a welcome party to our baby. I don’t know if you have kids, but it’s impossible to give a welcome to a newborn, that’s why there are baby showers, like there are birthdays and bridal showers and all that stuff.
    I agree with Sarah and i feel this post is really antifeminist cause you are shaming on woman who like babies an pregancy.

    • I don’t thinks you guys got the memo she was saying that it ties to the idea that we are all screechy demanding lavish classist and that all our previous achievements weren’t of the value of what is believed to be our one role in society. If people have a chilled get together and not make it all about the other material stuff it can be fun. Presents could still be allowed but let’s not make a competition and lets include the men because they might be more excited about the baby and want to play an active role.

  7. I attended exactly one baby shower a couple of years ago, and I really enjoyed it. I liked meeting my workmate’s old school pals, and I enjoyed the silly games. There was no bump-measuring or chocolate-smearing – we raced to drink from baby bottles (damn, those things require some serious suck) and did a blind taste test of baby food (vile, all of it).

    The pregnant lady in question insisted on no gifts, as she thought it was unlucky. We complied, though I am given to understand babies are seriously expensive, and I wouldn’t have minded helping a bit.

    I’d be totally down with all the other celebrations mentioned, but isn’t the impending arrival of a whole new human being a bit bigger than those things? The thing about “only celebrating hatching and matching” is a good point, it rings true, and yet, for some women, the change from “not-Mum” to “Mum” is hugely important, valuable, and fulfilling.

    I personally don’t even like babies, and will not be having any, but I understand that others feel differently.

  8. I won’t go. I hate the idea of grubbing for presents- weddings get a card and I avoid the big flashy ones, likewise all the other consumer orgies. Yes- I am a miserable grump, and yes- I explain exactly why I won’t go. I will celebrate anything which makes my friends happy- but not by spending money I don’t have on shit they don’t need- if you can’t afford baby stuff perhaps you shouldn’t be having a baby.. but if you insist- I will babysit once it arrives to give you a snooze and a bath.

  9. I agree with Sarah and feel a little disappointed with this article. My sister had her first baby last year and we threw her a lovely baby shower. Friends and family were there and she loved the support. People were not forced to bring presents, but they were very generous with their gifts. They were excited about the arrival of my sister’s baby and wanted to help out.

    With regards to a woman’s accomplishments, I don’t think baby showers “reinforce those narrow expectations by emphasising which of a woman’s accomplishments should be feted and celebrated …” Women give birth. It’s one of our many talents. What’s wrong with celebrating this with a little support from your friends in the form of a baby shower?

    And with regards to the comment above “if you can’t afford baby stuff perhaps you shouldn’t be having a baby..” I find this really offensive. Lots of people are struggling financially, but this shouldn’t impede their desire or right to have a family. My sister’s pregnancy was not planned and she was struggling financially, but her friends and family supported her. I’m so glad we did, because she’s such an amazing mama.

    Don’t get this article. It just seems mean.

  10. I’m pregnant and terrified of the ‘surprise baby shower’. I can already feel it in the planning amongst my colleagues. In my world you don’t celebrate something before it has happened.

  11. Not meaning to seem mean but I do think the ‘if you can’t afford it don’t have a baby’ thing is a valid point. I can’t afford a car – I can’t afford the tax, petrol, MOT, parking – so I don’t have one. A baby is a million times more expensive and a far greater commitment, so although I sympathise with struggling mothers (having been brought up by a struggling single mother myself) I don’t think women should act like it’s their god given right to have kids. It is after all a lifestyle choice.

    As for the article, I agree with some of the objections about references to screeching women which is a bit of a nasty stereotype BUT c’mon…anyone who has been to a hen do, wedding, christening etc will have encountered these situations. As someone who really couldn’t give two flying fucks about chair covers, towers of cupcakes and baby names, it is hard work pretending to be interested.

    *Bridesmaid 3 times in one year* – purchases include travel to said events, hen related activities including organisation, buying decs, food, drink, outfits, presents (engagement gift/card, congrats you’re pregnant gift/card, baby shower gifts/card, you’ve had a baby gift/card, christening gift/card, 1st birthday gift/card) ETC.

    Consumerist crap that serves only to shame people with no money and put everyone into a ‘who loves so and so the most’ contest.

    Pizza evening as Jen suggests sounds like a winner to me!

  12. I think you come across as a scrooge with a lack of empathy. My sister’s just had a baby and though she didn’t have a baby shower, she’s said she’s needed and appreciated gifts, advice, and support from her family and friends. She’s benefited, as many women do, from a lovely hand-me-down culture around newborns, and my niece is now 8 months and my sister still hasn’t bought any baby clothes herself, and has passed on the clothes as her baby grows out of them. That’s not consumerism, it’s community and support, and baby showers are one way to allow that to happen.

  13. Its just a party. If you dont like them, dont go.
    I threw one for my God son when his mother was carrying him and it was very clear that the primary point of the entire ordeal was to get gifts. Which is admittedly consumerist but considering how strapped she was for money (had to stop working during the pregnancy) it was a HUGE load off her shoulders to have the many things new babies need purchased for her. I have NEVER been to a baby shower were anyone made the soon to be mother feel ashamed of her body. That string game is stupid (as all baby shower games tend to be) but i really dont see how it would be body shaming since no one at these parties thinks having a large pregnant belly is shameful (in most cases).
    I think the idea of women getting together to talk to a new mother about whats its going to be like to be a mom is a wonderful idea. Being a new mother is scary and difficult and no one really knows what its like until they do it.
    I suppose your argument is that these parties reinforce the idea that having a baby is the greatest thing a woman can do with her life thats an anti feminist concept because “what about becoming ceo!”. But i know some very accomplished women who have done amazing things, my childhood best friend just got her PHD from Yale for example, but as proud as they are of their accomplishments their child are 1000 times more important to her than that will ever be. Being excited about being a mother and loving your children more than your job does not make you a bad feminist.

    Also in my culture (African American) we always throw parties when people graduate from college. I thought everyone did.
    Now that i think about it, Americans in general will throw a party for just about anything. I’ve heard of/attended parties for everything on the list above.

  14. I’m Italian and two years ago I had an invitation to my first (and only, thank god) baby shower. It was organized by a friend of the expectant mother (too obsessed with Pinterest, IMHO).

    Well, it was awkward. I was 25 at the time and I felt like it wasn’t my place. A couple of hours spent to ask for things you don’t care (name, stroller, nursing, etc.,…) imagining to be everywere but not there.

  15. As a grandmother in waiting having our daughter’s shower at our home in a few weeks, I am interested in what you have written. While the baby shower industry is to be criticized for its promotion of consumerism, waste and tackiness, I think you fail to understand that not all of us here in the U.S. succumb to such nonsense. Some of us are actually able to differentiate between vulgarity and caring celebration. Our event will be multigenerational and coed. The gifts will be a combination of new consciously sourced, homecrafted, and second hand items passed down from friends with young families. There will not be any crass games. But we will have a party! We will eat good food! We will shower the mother and father to be with the same sense of community that characterized their wedding which was also a homegrown affair. And we will not forget that my daughter is intelligent, educated and accomplished. Baby will come into this world surrounded by love and caring. And that is what the shower will represent. Oh, and Carrie Bradshaw as your “authority” is an interesting touch of irony.

  16. I suppose it’s a little late to be commenting, but if anyone manages to get this far, I’d like to suggest that the easy solution to this dilemma is to have a modern shower — one that involves both parents, all the friends, and tasty adult beverages along with the cake.

  17. In a world full of negative judgement of womens choices, this article is yet another. Its saddening that the comments expressed are so snide and demeaning, reducing the expectant mother to ‘prego’ being just one. It’s hard enough in life listening to one’s choices and celebrations being judged as less worthy by men, it’s especially disappointing when it comes from another woman.

    There’s quite the undertone of negativity towards American tradition too. Not all Americans are driven first and foremost by consumerism. Showers can be celebrations of an aspect of womanhood that is very important to women, they don’t have to be occasions of greed.

    A baby is a wonderful thing to the many women who want, plan, and look forward to becoming mothers. There is nothing lesser about that, and nothing to despise in wanting to celebrate it either.

  18. I think that’s a pretty unfair statement to make about someone you don’t know at all. I’m not a scrooge without empathy, I’m just a poor student and hate the pressure that comes with being ‘appropriately supportive’. I put that in quotations as there are so many instances where celebrating your friends’ life events becomes a competition over who can get the biggest, nicest, most expensive things and the actual important stuff gets lost among the consumerist crap.

    I’m totally in favour of the hand-me-down culture, and i think it is a really nice thing to do, but so many people would turn their noses up at that kind of stuff because they have their fantasy of their ‘perfect’ *insert life event here* in which hand-me-downs do not feature!

    Your sister being grateful for those hand-me-downs and gifts is really nice, I wasn’t having a jab at her situation, I’m just saying that there are some pretty stuck up people around and this baby-shower culture helps to perpetuate a lot of selfish attitudes.

  19. Who wrote this- it’s terrible.

    Baby showers aren’t about consumerism or body-shaming. They aren’t even anti-men. Unless the mother, who’s you know, growing the baby wants it to be about her alone, which to be honest is her prerogative.

    This article is almost like shaming women for having a girls night out.

    Getting published, your first great job and passing your driving test are all huge deals, they absolutely are. And I’m sorry if you didn’t get a party for your achievements, I planned my own celebration for each of those things as they happened (usually involving wine). But you’re not pushing a whole person out of your vagina and then caring for them to the best of your ability for the rest of your life.

    That is a huge thing to do. And really hard, much harder than learning to drive or finishing a degree. A baby shower is a time to feel connected to your friends and those that love you just before you go through childbirth. Which is a scary thing.

    And being there for each other during this is just as important as being there for each other during a break-up, or a book deal, or a death. If you don’t want to be there for your friend that’s fine but don’t write an article attacking those that do.

    Buying things for a woman that you love and a baby that she is having is not trivial. It’s very kind. It’s supportive and it’s really helpful. Had I not had a baby shower I would never of known about the wondrous invention: nappy sacks. Which saved me for the many times I ended up covered in shit for the first 6 months. They are under 20p in Sainsburys, and were my favourite gift.

    A baby shower is what you make of it, much like your birthday. If you don’t like them, don’t have one.

    • With all due respect for your opinion and to the enormous job of motherhood (and no I am not being sarcastic – which I am stating for the record because I think it is often hard to tell online and I don’t want to come across as a jerk), as I interpret it you are basically asserting here in the above comment that no achievement a woman makes can compare to becoming a mother because that is harder. I think that’s the idea that bothered the author in the first place. I don’t think debating what is more or less difficult in life is actually that productive. Everyone’s life is different so I think comparisons like that are problematic and generally not going to get anyone anywhere. I think the author was simply stating that women do other things that no one seems to really care about, in her experience. Some women do not have children at all, either by choice or because they physically cannot, yet they do many other awesome things that seem to go totally unnoticed by society in comparison to getting married/having kids. And ultimately instead of supporting each other and lifting each other up regardless of what choices we make, we end up arguing amongst ourselves about which of us had the harder experience.

      All that being said, I agree with many others on the thread that the author set a rather off-putting tone from the outset when she characterized the participants at baby showers. I’m not a big fan myself, particularly of the games involved (same thing at bridal showers), but the description seemed to reinforce stereotypes. I can only assume she was just trying to express her frustration at some of the behaviors (materialism and such) she sees at these parties among friends and family members whom she normally doesn’t see in that light. However, not all women are having lavish celebrity-style baby showers and some expectant parents really could use the help. Some people can’t afford all of the many things you need when you are just starting out (and you shouldn’t need to be rich to have a baby); those who can afford the stuff may not know exactly what they need if they are new parents. Can’t blame ‘em. I know diapers, that’s about it. Diapers, a crib… hopefully someone will help me fill in the blanks after that should I ever procreate.

      Overall, I liked the post because it’s clearly generated a lot of discussion! And some of the comments helped me think of ideas for how to modify a baby shower in the future, if I ever do have one of my own.

  20. I’ve been reading this website for a very long time, and have never commented before. But I found this article very shallow and full of stereotypes, that of course are true for some but definitely not accurate for the vast majority of people. And like many others have said, down right ‘anti-feminist’. I consider myself a feminist, but I have also wanted to be a mother since as long as I can remember, and now I am thrilled to be pregnant with my first baby. I think a lot of the language and attitudes in this article were definitely shaming women that have babies, suggesting that we are succumbing to gender stereotypes and patriarchal roles, which is so not true for the majority of people that decide to have children. Expectant parents face so much criticism and stigma and pressure to live up to the expectations of society in how they parent their children, they shouldn’t be made to feel bad or guilty for wanting to bring life into the world. It’s one of the hardest jobs, and women and men should feel extremely proud of themselves for taking it on.

    As for the topic of baby showers specifically- the highly stereotyped example which you provided above is just that- an example of how SOME can be. I agree that I would not enjoy a lot of that shower, but obviously, some people do, and good on them. Why should they change what they want just because you think it’s crass?
    I am planning my own baby shower. It will be mixed genders, a low key and relaxed barbecue, no games or themed decorations. Pretty much a family and friends get together to mingle and get excited about our baby. However there will be gifts. I had to stop working at 14 weeks, so we are doing it tough and some of the big purchases we would really appreciate help with. Instead of a registry, we will start a layby payment for the big purchases (ie our cloth nappies, and car seat) and provide payment details to guests so they are able to make whatever donation they are comfortable to make- be it $10 or $50. It won’t be compulsory though, and if people don’t donate or get a gift, I won’t take it personally!

    And as for the comment “if you can’t afford to have a baby, don’t have one”; I think that’s an awful thing to say. People raise children in all kinds of financial conditions, just because they can’t afford the newest Boori cot or other fancy non-essential item, or 12 years of elite private schooling down the track, it doesn’t mean they are not going to be excellent parents or their children won’t lead rich lives or be intelligent people that love the world around them. I think that comment reflects the person’s own attitudes about what makes people “good parents” and shouldn’t be prescriptive to the rest of the population.

    RANT OVER. sheesh.

  21. The Brits and a lot of European countries have the same tradition and it is a much better idea; namely, give items AFTER the baby is born. Why?
    Simple, a fair number of babies die pre-birth or shortly afterward and having all of those gifts around is a reminder of the grief and sadness you went thru.
    My sister-in-law had a miscarriage and all the joy turned into grief and she swore off any further showers for herself or for going to any others. She did have another child and made it well known that there is to be NO baby shower! What she does now for others who get pregnant is to go by a couple of months after the child is born and drop a nice gift off then.
    Also, those parents who don’t wish to know the sex of the child, may end up with items that are of no use – if they get gifts for a girl and they end up having a boy and vice versa.
    Afterward is just so much more practical and is what I’ve always done and always will!

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  23. I thought this article was brilliant, very true and very funny. It’s a shame some others haven’t taken it in the tongue in cheek context it was meant. Great work!

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