This past weekend, my friends threw my husband and me a baby shower. And it was perfect—we were surrounded by loved ones, ate delicious food and listened to great music without a diaper cake in sight. I ended the evening feeling supported, excited and ready for a good night’s sleep (hey, two out of three isn’t too bad).
But I have to admit that it took me a while to feel comfortable with the idea of having a shower. That’s because I find baby—like bridal—showers inherently problematic. Specifically, how antiquated and unnecessarily exclusive they are.
Don’t get me wrong—getting married and having a child are absolutely causes for celebration. And let’s not dismiss the necessity of these events for many people—starting a new life with your partner or bringing a new life into this world can be expensive and asking friends and family to contribute is beyond helpful. (I’m talking more about diapers here and not, you know, a fancy gravy boat.)
But isn’t there something a little…old-fashioned about these showers? As if society is congratulating women on finally fulfilling their womanly duty and, as such, they should be rewarded with gifts and cake.
My question is, why are we celebrating certain life choices over others?
Because there are a multitude of reasons why women should be celebrated that go beyond marriage and children. Just in the past six months, one of my closest friends landed her dream job while another secured a mortgage to buy an apartment. I have another friend who has been struggling with personal issues for years and has now come out on the other side stronger than ever. Where are the balloons and cupcakes for them?
Carrie Bradshaw came to a similar realization when she tallied up all the money she had spent on her friend Keira (ahem, over $2,300 for wedding and child-related expenditures). Meanwhile, she couldn’t even get her (super judgy) friend to reimburse her a few hundred bucks for a pair of Manolos that were stolen at her apartment. “And if I don’t ever get married or have a baby, what? I get bupkis?” Carrie asks—and makes a damn good point.
But that’s not the only problem with these showers. Let’s not forget that marriage equality isn’t a given everywhere—and it often feels precarious in our own country. Or how difficult it is for people struggling with infertility to have to attend a baby shower. Or the cultural and political hurdles gender nonconforming parents face. To some, these well-intentioned events inadvertently might make certain attendees feel less-than. Perhaps if there were more public celebrations in a woman’s life, it would lessen the pressure on those who aren’t married or who do not have children.
Honestly, it’s time that we throw showers that don’t play into the patriarchy and celebrate women for all their life choices. Because personally, I can’t wait for one of my friends to throw an “I started my own business” shower—I’ll be the first one there with balloons and everything.