Pepperdine Journal of Communication Research


As the date of the one hundred year anniversary of women gaining the right to vote approaches, one might believe that today’s society is successfully progressive in making strides toward equality for women. The reality is, while progressive strides have been made, society has not and is not close to achieving a space in which women do not face discrimination. This study observes the specific case of the professional female runner, Mary Cain, and her struggle against the hegemonic power system in place on professional running teams. By reading her article and sifting through the responses Cain received, it is evident that weight and body shaming is a colossal problem in the running industry. This paper discusses how hegemonic powers use ritual rhetoric to silence subordinate groups. It then asserts that it is only in a particular cultural moment (characterized by a weakening of powers partnered with a rhetorical refusal) that the subordinate group can challenge the dominant group. Finally, it observes the responses to such a challenge and how one story creates a space for others to share their stories. Findings from this research demonstrate ways in which rhetoric can be used to conceal the truth, while simultaneously demonstrating ways in which rhetoric can provide a space for the voices of marginalized groups.

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