Pink, Blue, or WTF?

Future parents who feel compelled to know the sex of their fetus as soon as possible have a new avenue through which to do so. The new Pink or Blue gender pregnancy test claims to determine fetal sex only five weeks after conception, using a DNA test. Apparently, a pregnant woman’s blood is tested for traces of male DNA (this meaning that no men can be present during the blood test). If male DNA is present, she is having a boy. If not, it’s a girl.

Now, future parents wanting to know the sex of their unborn child is nothing new. Although I personally find this focus on the sex/gender of an unborn person to be somewhat unsettling, I can understand how it might also help certain people prepare for their new baby. Besides, if you are excited about a pregnancy, it makes sense that you might want as much information as possible. What is different about the Pink or Blue test is how soon the sex of a fetus can be determined.

Typically, the sex of a fetus is apparent on an ultrasound somewhere between 16 and 20 weeks into pregnancy. If Pink or Blue is to be believed, that date can now be moved up to only five weeks into a pregnancy. That means that future parents who are unhappy with the sex of their fetus will be given more time to have an abortion if they choose to do so. (I realize that abortions are possible at 20 weeks and beyond, but many people have fewer ethical qualms about first-term abortions than later-term ones.)

Let’s discuss some of the social implications of this test. First of all, its very existence is evidence of our cultural obsession with gender roles (we could have a whole separate discussion here about the “Pink or Blue” name of this product). According to the product’s website, this test is about “the joy of knowing.” But why is there such a joy in knowing? Why do we care so much? And why do we feel compelled to start the gendering process before a child is even born? Does it really matter that much? Should it?

In addition, there is the issue of gender selection. What does it mean for the culture at large when a woman takes measures to determine the sex of her baby? Should she base her decision to have an abortion on the gender of the fetus? When asked about the implications of a product like this on societies where sex ratios are already skewed toward males (like China and India), Pink or Blue spokesperson Terry Carmichael claimed that the product will not be sold in those countries. Doesn’t a claim like that highlight the insidious nature of the product? And why censor some countries and not others if this product is about “the joy of knowing”?

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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7 Comments Have Been Posted

point of clarification

"Gender" refers to socially constructed identity, and "sex" to the actual biological makeup of the person. You're using them interchangeably, but I'd suggest that it might be possible to determine the sex of a fetus, but his/her/ze's gender (radical fairie? butch?) is pretty much impossible to suss out until the kid's out of the womb and in the world.

And yes, of course this is creepy, as well as probably being a crock.

You're right

but since the product is marketed as a "gender test" I chose to use that term to describe it. Of course, actual gender (a social construct) can't be determined in a fetus. Thanks for the clarification!

Well, as it was touched on

Well, as it was touched on in the comment above, the first and biggest problem is that it's called a "gender" test. Absolutely ridiculous.

I don't think it changes much.

I'm mostly neutral, though not impressed by the boring color-coding. Not excited, not upset. Parents form expectations for their children regardless of whether they know the gender, and typically before they even procreate.

I don't agree with this for

I don't agree with this for two reasons. Firstly, it just shouldn't matter that much to people. A baby is a baby, it's a happy event either way. Secondly, just the fact that it is called a gender test is misleading.

I miss the Old Days!

I first read about this in Marie Clarie. Why can't parents just be happy not to know or at least be happy with having a boy for a girl. This has gotten way out of hand, Apparently women in China are using these and aborting the baby if the outcome is not favorable. Why aren't pro-lifers raising their signs about things such at this company and these type of women, who are choosy about color patterns and gender?


"...future parents who are unhappy with the sex of their fetus will be given more time to have an abortion if they choose to do so" Just for this awful possibility this "pink or blue test" must be prohibited.

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