8 Tamar Karet discusses how WiP became organised and what it borrowed from Women in Media
What we had was the kind of structure that WiM [Women in Media] had. That is meeting in pubs, meeting once a month, open to all women, quite collaborative groups in those days, they tended to be collaborative ‘cos it was the nature of the way, not just the women’s movement was going, but the whole ’60s. That was the spirit of the time. I don’t suppose any votes were taken, it would have all been by consensus and compared with other groups I had belonged to it was pretty well organised
What had been put in place by that time?
Well, for a start there was a committee of several women. It wasn’t one person running it. And we agreed on, I think it was probably a committee of 8 to 10 or 8 to 12 women, something like that, and each woman would be responsible for doing something specific. Somebody would act as secretary perhaps, or perhaps that would have rotated, because that was always contentious since women were kept in secretarial roles. A lot of groups would say ‘No, we can’t have one’ – nobody would volunteer to be secretary, never, because that’s demeaning so it might rotate every meeting.
But somebody would be treasurer, somebody would be in charge of the membership list, and there would be a certain amount of delegation of that sort. There were speakers organised by one person of the committee. A meeting in general would have decided who they wanted, not which speakers, but what they wanted people to speak about, so you’d have somebody delegated to organise that, possibly two women if the group was too long.
We might have had somebody and, I think we did fairly often, to check out finding another pub for us to meet at. Because all of the pubs had drawbacks. They would put their rates up. The first year, a pub with quite a small meeting room was sufficient, and then when we began to need a somewhat bigger meeting room which meant a move somewhere else, and I think within the first few years we probably moved about once every two years, which isn’t too bad a rate.
And it was always something like it will be the first Monday of the month or the first Wednesday or whatever, so that there’d be a repeating date so that we wouldn’t have to organise too much.
Someone would write up the minutes. I do remember very early on telling them all of the WiM experience when early Women in Media minutes went to members’ work addresses, and particularly the BBC women all got fired because they belonged to a women’s group and that was considered subversive by the powers that be. And so Women in Publishing very cautiously decided that no minutes should go to offices unless the members had said they could, so we would ask where people wanted their minutes sent.
And also within a year we started producing a newsletter which was called Wiplash, which we thought was terribly daring as a title. And it stipulated that no one should be mentioned in Wiplash without her consent because Wiplash could well be seen by other people in the company. And often people would tack it on the noticeboard so that people could know about it.
But for the first three or four years there was a great deal of fear. The men thought this was something terribly subversive. They figured we were all these mad bra burners. It was terribly funny because we mainly saw ourselves, I think, more than anything as just women who were networking.