Poem: My heroines

Poem: My heroines

by Marge Piercy

When I think of women heroes,
its not Joan of Arc or Molly Pitcher
but mothers who quietly say
to their daughters, you can.
Who stand behind attempts
to open doors long bolted shut
to teams or clubs or professions.

I think of women who dress
respectably and march and march
and march again, for the ability
to choose, for peace, for rights
their own or others. Who form
phone banks, who stuff envelopes
who do the invisible political work.

They do not get their faces on
magazine covers. They dont get fan
mail or receive awards. But without
them, no woman or liberal man
would ever be elected, no law
would be passed or changed. We
would be stuck in sexist mud.

Its the receptionist in the clinic,
the escorts to frightened women,
the volunteers at no kill shelters,
women sorting bottles at the dump,
women holding signs in the rain,
women who take calls of the abused,
of rape victims, night after night.

Its the woman at her computer
or desk when the familys asleep
writing letters, organizing friends.
Big change turns on small pushes.
Heroes and heroines climb into
history books, but its such women
who actually write our future.

February 17, 2010

Marge Piercy is the author of 17 novels, most recently “Sex Wars” published by Harper Collins Perennial, which also published her memoir, “Sleeping With Cats.” She has 17 collections of poetry, the latest of which are “The Crooked Inheritance” (Knopf), and “Louder, We Can’t Hear You Yet” (Leapfrog), a CD of her feminist and political poetry. Knopf is preparing a second volume of selected poems, tentatively titled The Hunger Moon (the first volume, Circles on the Water, includes poems to 1981.) See

Also see “The Poet’s Eye” featuring poems by Heather Davis, Susan Eisenberg and Renny Golden and selected by Co-Poetry Editor Judith Arcana in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.

See “Film Review: Liberian Women Forge A Real-Life Lysistrata” by Jaye Austin Williams in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.


Merle Hoffman's Choices: A Post-Roe Abortion Rights Manifesto

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“Merle Hoffman has always known that in a democracy, we each have decision-making power over the fate of our own bodies. She is a national hero for us all.” ​—Gloria Steinem

In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade and a country divided, a pioneer in the pro-choice movement and women’s healthcare offers an unapologetic and authoritative take on abortion—“the front line and the bottom line of women’s freedom and liberty.”

Merle Hoffman has been at the forefront of the reproductive freedom movement since the 1970s. Three years before the Supreme Court legalized abortion through Roe v. Wade, she helped to establish one of the United States’ first abortion centers in Flushing, Queens, and later went on to found Choices, one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive women’s medical facilities. For the last five decades, Hoffman has been a steadfast warrior and fierce advocate for every woman’s right to choose when and whether or not to be a mother.