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Women and men clubbing together – or not…

A current question is, should men’s clubs, such as the Garrick, a haven of theatre people and writers, be forced by law to have female members? You might think I’d say yes, since I suffered a maddening experience at their hands. When all of us at the Spectator (during its one radical era, I should say) were gathered to go there for Bernard Levin’s festive leaving lunch, I was dressed up ready and looking forward to it when suddenly it was: “Oh well, goodbye Kath – we’re afraid the Garrick is men only.” (And it wasn’t just an excuse to lose me – Bernard took me off for champagne elsewhere and was late for his own send-off.)

Since then the club has improved; the Detection Club meets there, an editor of the Observer once took me to lunch there – women are at any rate welcomed as guests. But should females be members, as they so successfully are at the Reformand Athenaeum? Forcing all clubs to be gender equal might create more problems than it solved. What, for example, should the University Women’s Club do if both sexes could always join? How would I, a founder member of the British arm of theInternational Women’s Forum, stand? Would the Women’s Institutes have to include oil as well as jam with the Jerusalem?

The sexes surely have equal rights to fun, but better to allow fashion and habit to achieve that than making a law.


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