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Andrew Dickens: Whittakers controversy a storm in a gender identity teacup

Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Thursday, 21 February 2019, 12:33PM
Whittakers have courted controversy with their new coconut ice blocks. (Photo / Facebook)

Another day, another storm in the gender identity teacup.

To support Plunket, the chocolate company Whittakers has launched a gender reveal version of their coconut ice blocks.

I know.  Already this sounds like a ridiculous story.  There are some people in marketing departments who really do over think things.

Here’s the logic.  The new coconut Ice blocks normally come in pink.  So someone thought if we colour some blue, it would be like the baby colours. 

That led to someone thinking, why don’t we colour some blue and some pink but not label them as either pink or blue so when people open them up it’s a surprise as to what colour you get and that’s like the surprise when you hear what gender a baby is? 

And gender reveal parties that are all the rage right now, so that’s cool.  And since this is all about babies, let’s donate some money to Plunket at the same time we sell our pink and blue blocks of coconut ice.

Imagine how horrific the brainstorming meeting that came up with this was.  The whole idea is clunky, antiquated, artificial and cynical.  To be honest, it doesn’t make me want to buy the product.  Just sell some coconut ice and give some money to Plunket.

But then Twitter found out and things got weirder. The gender police got stuck into Whittakers. 

Firstly for their antiquated binary notions of gender. Someone from Rainbow Youth said it erases many of the identities that exist in the rainbow community. It ignores the intersex and the trans gender which as we know can make up two per cent of the population.

A Victoria University sociologist who recently came out as intersex said that while she supports Whitaker’s supporting Plunket, the marketing move is one of many "small everyday reminders that me and trans people and gender fluid people are not included in society to its full extent. These things seem minor but they add up".

Well, I’m sorry but it is minor.  Can the colour of a coconut ice bar truly erase the identities that exist in the rainbow community.  This is a level of hyperbole and exaggeration that does no one any favours at all.

It’s very similar to the opinion piece in the paper the other day criticising the move to allow people to self-identify their gender which led to the writer claiming that men would do this to enable themselves to enter women’s changing rooms

This was shot down by the Privacy Commissioner John Edwards who said, “Are men really going to complete and file a statutory declaration to change their declared gender on official documents just so they can sit in a women’s changing room with their genitals on display? Really? I’m informed there are much more straightforward ways to be a perv.” Exactly.

Both sides of the gender battlefield are as bad as each other in over egging the issues. Frankly  I’ve never understood the fascination with gender and sexuality issues.  It’s your business, nobody else’s.

But a final word on gender reveal parties.  I remember the constant gender questioning when we were having children.  “What are you having?”  they’d say.  “A boy or a girl?” “ We’re having a baby”, I’d say.  That’s all that matters

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