Women seeking to express concerns about childbirth or to challenge institutionalized medicine by writing online birth plans or birth stories exercise rhetorical agency in undeniably feminist ways. In Writing Childbirth: Women’s Rhetorical Agency in Labor and Online, author Kim Hensley Owens explores how women create and use everyday rhetorics in planning for, experiencing, and writing about childbirth.
Drawing on medical texts, popular advice books, and online birth plans and birth stories, as well as the results of a childbirth writing survey, Owens considers how women’s agency in childbirth is sanctioned, and how it is not. She examines how women’s rhetorical choices in writing interact with institutionalized medicine and societal norms. Writing Childbirth reveals the contradictory messages women receive about childbirth, their conflicting expectations about it, and how writing and technology contribute to and reconcile these messages and expectations.
Demonstrating the value of extending rhetorical investigations of health and medicine beyond patient-physician interactions and the discourse of physicians, Writing Childbirth offers fresh insight into feminist rhetorical agency and technology and expands our understanding of the rhetorics of health and medicine.