Episode Seven of Mrs. America depicts the infamous pieing of Phyllis Schlafly, an assault that did occur and caused eye damage for Phyllis. Despite Mrs. America’s own bold title, they failed to portray the truth that it was a traditional American apple pie. Using a cream pie just goes to show that the feminists still have hard feelings toward the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Hitting someone with any object is indeed an assault, but Phyllis did not press charges. For all of Hollywood’s depiction of her “ruthlessness,” Schlafly bore no animus against her aggressor, Aron Kay. Instead, she persevered and wrote, “The pie gave me an injury in my right eye and although I expect to fully be recovered after about three weeks it was very inconvenient to be studying for my law school exams with the use of only one eye.
Despite this despicable incident and Phyllis’s charity, Hollywood chooses to emphasize the “bravery” of ERA women. Bella Abzug manages the first National Women’s Conference and pushes for homosexual rights despite her fears.
Perhaps one fair point made is Bella’s comment to Gloria Steinem, “You know, that’s the difference between you and me. You wanna preach to the choir.” Gloria Steinem never would debate Schlafly, but then again, even Bella Abzug was only willing to appear on the same stage as Phyllis after the deck had been stacked in her favor.
Hollywood falsely depicts Phyllis’s absence from the Illinois State Conference as fear. The real Phyllis wrote, “I wasn’t invited. (Speakers who do not support the IWY-NOW-lib goals were generally blacklisted).”
Hollywood can suggest that the feminists were all inclusive, but Phyllis’s statement says it all, “The apple pie incident clearly shows what type of tactics we can expect from ERA proponents. Maybe this is what Betty Freidan meant when she threatened after Florida defeated the ERA ‘we’re going to stop being ladylike.’”
Phyllis’s perseverance amid persecution is something Hollywood would like to erase, but their lies cannot cover up the truth. Her legacy and example show that crumby assaults reveal deeper motives. Pies might be used as publicity stunts to shame opponents, but in the end it is perseverance that wins a fight.