The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Deena Metzger

b. September 17, 1936

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Deena Metzger until we are able to commission a full entry.

Writer, poet, professor, and educator, Deena Metzger.

Deena Metzger’s iconic portrait, “The Warrior,” changed the way we look at surviving breast cancer. In 1969, Metzger, a writer and teacher, was fired from her position at Los Angeles Valley College for “immoral conduct” when she taught a unit on applying Supreme Court decisions regarding literature and pornography. She took her case to court and was reinstated three years later. Metzger continued to explore feminist issues through the lens of her writing and teaching as director of the writing program for the Woman’s Building and the Feminist Studio Workshop. After getting a mastectomy due to breast cancer, Metzger chose to be photographed naked from the waist up by Hella Hammid for a photo that became known as “The Warrior,” a strong, beautiful pose that challenged ideas about beauty, cancer, and nudity. Through her novels and poems, Metzger has explored Jewish history from the biblical story of the rape of Dinah to the Holocaust. She has also written guides to spiritual healing, including Entering the Ghost River.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Deena Metzger." (Viewed on May 28, 2023) <>.


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