With the 1st of April looming I am sure that children and adults alike are starting to plan jokes and stunts they can play on family and friends. I am sure there will be plenty of posts and video’s circulating social media for me to view. Will they make me giggle, laugh out loud, cringe or just feel disappointed? Not disappointed, because the prank didn’t go to plan, but disappointed because the joke has a tainted side.
You may question how April Fool’s Day can have a sad side when its focus is merriment, but it is all about the audience your joke reaches. Being childless not by choice the one joke that annoys me, makes me cringe, angers, upsets and confuses me is the “fake pregnancy announcement”.
The laughter seems to be generated first by the shock announcement of the news and secondly from the relief that someone is not legitimately pregnant. The relief of the new boyfriend realising he is not going to be a dad. The relief of the parents knowing their teenage daughter is not making them grandparents. The relief of the husband knowing his vasectomy has not failed.
This joke has even crept out throughout the year. At Christmas there is a post about “expecting” that draws you in to the end where the expected arrival is in fact Santa. The yearly Cancer awareness game in 2016 had several status options, one being “It's confirmed - I'm going to be a mommy/daddy.” As if this wasn’t enough Facebook has a variety of games throughout the year that focus on pregnancy and children; how many children you will have and what they will look like. One also predicts and shares who of your friends will be pregnant this year.
To someone who is struggling with infertility or childlessness these jokes and games are insensitive.
1 in 8 women struggle to conceive
1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriage
1 in 5 women are childless not by choice
1 in 5 women struggle with secondary infertility
These are not small statistics; these statistics are not just numbers. These statistics are your sisters and daughters, your work colleagues and friends. Will your joke make them laugh?