The Tocqueville Connection
NO GIRLS ALLOWED: FRENCH FREEMASONS VOTE AGAINST MIXED LODGES
PARIS, Sept 7, 2007 (AFP) - France's top Masonic order has decided against admitting women to its nearly 250-year-old organisation, a leading member said Friday.
Some 1,200 delegates at the annual meeting of the Grand Orient de France (GODF) rejected a proposal by Grand Master Jean-Michel Quillardet to open up the lodges to women, said Guy Archizet, a member of the governing council.
The grand master of the order had argued that women should be made members because "it's difficult for a movement like ours to remain among men when you have to deal with societal issues."
"We are disappointed that this debate did not take place," said Archizet. "But we plan to raise it again."
Some 60 percent of delegates voted "no" to a motion to hold a discussion on opening up the lodges to women during the meeting held this week in the western city of La Rochelle.
It was the first time that the issue was raised at an annual meeting of the GODF, which was founded in 1773 and claims some 48,000 members -- by far the largest Masonic order in the country.
Archizet said the result was "encouraging" because "a few years ago, 90 percent would have undoubtedly opposed" any discussion on admitting women.
Most of France's freemason lodges are exclusively male, with only two reserved for women. A handful of smaller orders are open to both men and women, with far fewer members than the GODF.
Quillardet had argued that admitting women would help "change the image of freemasonry" in France as a closed and outdated male bastion.
He had advocated a gradual change, giving each lodge the freedom to decide whether to admit women.