The Imagined Correspondence of Phyllis Schlafly and Anita Bryant

From the spring of 1978

March 4, 1978

Dear Phyl,

Gosh, I wish you could see me. I’m in bed recovering from yesterday’s luncheon for the Women’s Coalition Against Pantsuits. No amount of Alka-Seltzer in my Tab can fix this terribly upset tummy of mine. Could someone tell Pat Nixon that mayonnaise has no place in Chicken Cordon Bleu? I feel so badly for her, that naturally I took a second helping, despite the fact that I could practically hear the Good Lord advising me against it.

Keep me in your prayers,

P.S. When you get a sec, can you drop off my punch bowl? I’m going to need it for a Save Our Children fundraiser next Sunday.

March 6, 1978

Dear Nita,

I’m troubled to hear of your recent gastric distress. You’d think with all the work that Jesus has intended for you, He’d never allow you to suffer such indignities! I jest. If we Catholics can’t chide you Evangelicals occasionally, what’s the use in befriending each other?

I was so pleased to see you at the STOP the Equal Rights Amendment event on Sunday. I sensed true enthusiasm, though I question the commitment of the college cohort. It’s so difficult to really hold the attention of these ill-mannered young “baby boomers.” One feels one must really grip them with the vigor of the almighty, and yet they slip away, well-lubricated and nubile. I’m not sure they lend much credibility anyway. Did you ever stop to consider those suede hotpants they’re so fond of aren’t machine-washable? The mind reels.

In solidarity,

P.S. I’m sorry my dear but I don’t have your punch bowl. Are you sure you didn’t loan it to Gena Rowlands? People often mix us up. Something about the eyes.

March 10, 1978

Dear Phyl,

The co-eds at the E.R.A. event captured my imagination too…really sent me back to my younger days if you want to know the truth. Though of course they have all kinds of liberties we never did. Back in Oklahoma, a gal couldn’t walk out of the house without a hat unless she was trying out for a part in a Bob Fosse musical! Now any passing stranger knows things about a girl’s body that were previously understood only by Jesus and her gynecologist. I wonder what these girls are trying to protect, when they link arms with us against the scourge of feminism? Are they trying to assert their right to replicate the Kingdom of heaven their homes, in tribute to Jesus Christ and their husbands? Or is it their right to ditch their girdles and coerce middle managers into buying them Mai Tais at a hotel bar?

I am enclosing a draft of my new book, The Anita Bryant Story. In it, I trace the sometimes harrowing path that Jesus has weed-whacked for me through the dark forests of our nation’s degenerate homosexual landscape. Please share your thoughts.

May He place grace and blessings in your path,

P.S. No, I definitely didn’t loan the punch bowl to Gena. Do people really mix the two of you up? [Laughing] How funny!

March 15, 1978

Dear Anita,

Thank you so much for sending over your manuscript for The Anita Bryant Story. I can really see your effort here! As usual you are a bluejay of good news, spreading hope for our collective salvation from filth and laziness. Some of it sounds a little like an excellent college admission essay, for a state school.

As a lawyer I have to wonder whether you should omit the chapter about Bob’s childhood “peculiarities”. I agree that your husband’s flirtation with the boys in his barbershop quartet — and his ultimate repentance — bolsters your case against militant homosexuality. If the queers can infiltrate even Bob’s immaculate mind, they truly are everywhere. But this anecdote may also provide fuel for your enemies — or perhaps it’s just the story about the greased pig contest that feels like a bit much.

On another note, have you seen any of this show, “Laverne and Shirley”? They make Caroll Burnett look like Doris Day. Sometimes I wonder whether we aren’t the only American women left who aren’t “bulldykes,” if you’ll forgive the colloqualism.


P.S. I am not sure why it’s so shocking that I should be mistaken for Ms. Rowlands. We have very similar bone structure.

April 4, 1978

Dear Phyl,

They say absolute power corrupts absolutely, but I now know that a few prescription diet pills can achieve the same effect. I am smothered in shame today, and can only be cleansed by the wet-wipe of Jesus’s love. Yesterday at Kenny Rogers’s annual Easter Egg hunt I became especially animated in describing homosexual recruitment tactics to Marie Osmond, slipped out of one of my slingbacks and tumbled down a hill. That’s right — yours truly did an involuntary somersault, skirt and half-slip over my head, clutch purse tumbling after. I haven’t been this embarrassed since I misspelled ecclesiastes in our family Christmas letter. Thank God I was wearing Dacron — it’s remarkably flexible.

Also, you are so good to read my silly scribblings, and of course the greased pig is a shade too purple. How wise.

I have seen Laverne and Shirley — research, of course. I don’t think that butch one could find her way into a brassiere if one fell from heaven and landed on her! I’m also keenly aware that the “L” on her sweaters is the monogram of a love that dare not speak its name. How very like the homosexuals to spread their message via powder-blue cashmere.


P.S. I found my punchbowl! The children were using it to baptize their dolls. I’m so embarrassed, I was sure you had it. Forgive me.

April 12, 1978

Dear Nita,

Like hemlines, the fortunes of our movement rise and fall. As I’m sure you’ve heard, Kentucky has rescinded its ratification of the E.R.A., which should protect a woman’s right to wear a flower-strewn bonnet at the Derby in May. The women’s libbers would have everyone in matching grey ski caps, I’m sure.

Despite this victory, it’s looking like that limp noodle president Carter is going to extend the deadline to ratify the detested E.R.A. So, the fight will continue. And I am weary. My inner cynic questions whether we can really have any impact in a world where girls aspire only to wiggle their derrieres like Olivia Newton John in Grease? I fear our legal victory may be overshadowed by a cultural apocalypse. If the E.R.A. is sent to hell where it belongs, women may be spared the draft, but still burdened by miniskirts and lip gloss.

Keeping my chin up,

P.S. Now it’s my turn to be embarrassed. I just received the new T.V. Guide. In her new film, “A Question of Love” Gena Rowlands plays a…lesbian. I’ll be so ashamed the next time someone comments on our resemblance.