This collection provides examples of writing, arguments, and communication strategies that constitute “rhetorical ingenuity”—the practice of creating one’s own rhetorical means in highly charged, often technical, yet extremely personal rhetorical situations. In the examples within, rhetorical ingenuity involves uncovering latent sources of oppression in women’s health and medicine and employing tactics that successful women’s health advocates use to push for the care they want for themselves and for other women—all goals that align within the discipline of the rhetoric of health and medicine.
At a time when women’s health concerns are at the center of national debate, women strive to influence matters of research, funding, policy, and everyday access to healthcare. In this context, women often report that they are unheard, excluded, and disenfranchised, expressing discontent with the low level (and sometimes absence) of rhetorical and material control they have over their own bodies. However, evidence in the studies in this volume demonstrate that women do not always accept such treatment. Rather, writers, research participants, advocates, and activists use surprising and perhaps sobering rhetorical strategies to interrupt, subvert, and effect change in health and healthcare arenas. These practices not only resist threats to women’s agency regarding their own health, but they also expand our understanding of rhetorical activism in health and healthcare.