When you are a man and interested in Freemasonry you can set out and try to find some information if it could be something for you. After a while you may want to visit an information evening or something. Male Freemasonry is in most countries by far the biggest Masonic(-related) organisation, so the chance that your first encounter will be with a male-only lodge is substantial. Usually women can also come to these information evenings, but soon they will learn that there is no possibility for them to join. Depending in what country you live, a few things can happen when a woman in the groups asks ‘why’ and ‘what then’?
In the USA, reference might be made to the Order Of The Eastern Star, an organisation founded and sustained by regular lodges and open for men and women who are Freemasons or family thereof.
To take France or Belgium as examples, in these countries irregular Freemasonry is bigger than the regular kind, so chances are that you already ran into a mixed lodge or perhaps into a male lodge in friendly relations with mixed orders.
The last example are the Netherlands. However there are four mixed orders active in the Netherlands, Freemasons seem to be more willing to refer women to the women-only organisation Vita Feminea Textura than suggest co-Masonry. The Vita Feminea Textura, or weavers, is a Freemasonry-like organisation solely for women and started by Freemasons and their women, probably to give the latter an alternative. Instead of working with building symbolism, the weavers use weaving symbolism.
So there you are, interested in Freemasonry. Why would you ‘go for co’?
The first reason could be that you are a woman, so the largest part of the Masonic world is inaccessible for you. Depending on what country you live in, the options could be several mixed orders and maybe also one or more female-only orders.
The second reason could be that the closest lodge to your home happened to be a mixed lodge. Perhaps you were even a member before you knew there was more Freemasonry than your own order.
Then it could be that you are male, but have a partner that wants to join too. So why not join together?
The fourth reason can be that you can not completely find yourself in the ways of regular Freemasonry. Regular Freemasonry uses strict “Landmarks” that all lodges that are member have to live up to. There are people who do not see the use of a God-like idea in Freemasonry, so they have to look for an irregular lodge. Others may want to be able to discuss religion and politics in the lodge, so they have to look for an irregular lodge. Others might see the value of men and women in the same lodge, so they ‘go for co’.
Regular Freemasons have the tendency to look down on any irregular kind of Freemasonry, claiming that only they are the real deal and the rest is “irregular”, “clandestine” or even “bogus” or “false”. Some Freemasons are more openminded than others and simply regard other forms of Freemasonry as different paths.
Inform yourself well. Think of what you are looking for. Try to get information about or even contact with a few lodges to try to find out what best suits your needs. Take your time, there is no rush when you want to make the best decission.