7 Simone Castello discusses the fallout from the decision to allow men to attend WiP social functions
I think because we were different kind of women and we weren’t into a grudge with men, we just thought maybe we should allow them to come to this party and maybe we should become a bit more open. You know, just a party, just a social thing, because our generation were not as hostile to men, we don’t feel oppressed by men, we’re more fighting against the system. That’s how I see it. So it was a kind of historic decision and this membership secretary took a strong position from the start and she just said “Well, then I’m resigning.” And it kind of seemed to me a strong kind of feminist objection to it. We were a bit shocked because in that times we never had that kind of attitude. It didn’t seem to be a controversial thing to do although they never were allowed before.
And she just said, “Dear Simone, I’m writing to you to tell you that I’m resigning from the position of Membership Secretary of Women in Publishing and from Women in Publishing itself.”
So this is dated 21st September 1997.
“This may not come entirely as a surprise to you considering my views about the matter of guests at Women in Publishing social events. It was acknowledged that some women would resign from Women in Publishing if we voted in the affirmative, and upon much thought, I realise that I am one. I am sorry to be losing the good company of the Committee, but I feel strongly about this issue. Membership Secretary is, I am aware, central to the monthly running of Women in Publishing and I am willing to hold the fort for a little while. However, I hope I can be relieved of this as soon as possible.”
It is difficult to take the reins from other people and continue in a tradition, isn’t it, and we just felt that maybe, we were fighting different things now, and to allow the men to a social party was just a small thing, it wouldn’t weaken our position like a women-only organisation.
We were another generation, although we had, I mean I had experienced myself what a man could do to you. We felt the fight was not fighting men or the prejudice, it was more like trying to make child care affordable. There were other things that we wanted to focus on.