A pregnant virgin. That’s the basis of the hit television show Jane the Virgin. Jane’s immaculate conception, however, was not miraculous, but rather the result of a medical mistake. Long story short, Jane was at the doctor’s office for a routine visit. Petra was at the same doctor’s office for artificial insemination because she was struggling with infertility. Jane was accidentally inseminated instead of Petra. Rafael is Petra’s husband, the sperm donor, and now the father of Jane’s unborn child. The premise makes for an entertaining show overall, but the way in which Petra’s infertility is addressed is problematic.
Jane’s pregnancy pits Petra against Jane and Petra against Rafael. In fact, Rafael’s desire for a family is so strong that he ultimately leaves Petra to be with Jane. Petra then becomes Jane’s antagonist. She is jealous, bitter, and resentful. This dynamic plays into a common yet dangerous media trope of pregnancy vs. infertility.
Petra eventually becomes so angry and fed up that she artificially inseminates herself with Rafael’s sperm in a desperate attempt to win him back. She does so by hanging upside down and using a turkey baster. Again, we see another common yet problematic media trope that connects infertility with humor. Petra’s ridiculous insemination plan actually works and she becomes pregnant with Rafael’s twins.
After giving birth, Petra and Jane become closer and their antagonistic relationship becomes a friendship. In fact, Jane refers to Petra as her family, and Petra and Rafael’s spark is rekindled. It is, however, important to note that Petra only becomes family after she gives birth. The three eventually learn to co-exist to raise their children, but is this fair?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, infertility in the U.S. is common. Why, then, does the media still portray infertility as something to be scrutinized or used for comic relief? The media has intense power over cultural norms, and so a more responsible depiction of infertility would help to destigmatize it in society. Women suffering from infertility deserve support, not sneers or laughs.