My song today is “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)”. This song was written and originally recorded by American country artist, Loretta Lynn. It was released as a single in May 1966 via ‘Decca Records’. The song has since been regarded as one of Lynn's signature songs.
‘You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” was based on a woman Lynn had met backstage before a concert. Lynn recounted in 2016 that the woman confided how another woman attempted to steal her husband from her. In response to her words, Lynn replied, "Honey, she ain't woman enough to take your man!" Following the conversation, Lynn went into her dressing room and wrote the song.
"You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)" reached Number 2 on the ‘Billboard Hot Country Singles’ survey in 1966. The song became her eighth top-ten single on the country chart and her biggest hit up to that point. It was included on her 1966 studio album, ’You Aint Woman Enough’.
This song reminds me of a woman I once came across as a Probation Officer in the late 1970s when I worked in the ‘Huddersfield Probation Office’. I had been asked to prepare a ‘Social Enquiry Report’ on her for the ‘Huddersfield Crown Court’. She had been bailed by the ‘Huddersfield Magistrate’s Court’ to appear before the ‘Huddersfield Crown Court’ for sentence.
A ‘Social Enquiry Report’ is a document prepared by a Probation Officer to assist the sentencing court to arrive at the most ‘appropriate’ sentence. ‘Appropriate’ is defined as a sentence which is proportionate to the gravity of the offence, and a sentence that considers the culpability of the defendant when they were committing the offence, and a sentence that does not offend public sensibilities and community values, and a sentence that is more likely to lead to the defendant not committing a similar offence in the future.
In pursuance of this work, the Probation Officer essentially performs the roles of an interviewing psychologist allied to that of a private detective with the right and empowerment to investigate and ascertain any private information on the defendant from any source whatsoever (with the exception of the H.M. Inspector of Taxes). The Judge of the sentencing court will read the Probation Officer’s report and either accept the Probation Officer’s assessment of the situation and either follow the recommendation in the report or ignores it, dependent on the persuasive powers of the report’s author.
The woman upon who I prepared a ‘Social Enquiry Report’ was the wife of a traveller and the mother of two children. She was of Irish descent, and during the 1970s the most positive term she would have had applied to her was that of 'gypsy'. She possessed a violent temper and got inebriated on very little alcohol consumption. She was not averse to getting into a fight with anyone who made eyes at her Irish husband.
She had been in a street brawl following a drinking session on a night out with her husband and two other travelling friends. Apart from a black eye and some facial bruising inflicted on a female victim (who her husband had been chatting to), the injuries caused by the defendant were not too serious in their own right to consider a custodial sentence being the likely outcome. However, this was before police records revealed that she was presently the subject of a suspended prison sentence that was still in force.
The woman was in her late twenties and had natural attractive features, and whatever beauty of face and body she lacked, her husband made up in spades. She had married her husband after she had fallen pregnant and had also given birth to a second child. Her husband was a tall, darkly handsome man who made all women look twice whenever he passed their way. He was also a philanderer who drank too much and was in the town’s public houses most evenings of the week. She told me that she often accompanied her husband to the pub with a few travelling friends while his mother would look after their two children on the site they camped.
The woman had twice previously appeared before the Magistrates Courts for an offence of ‘Assault and actual Bodily Harm’ (A.B.H.). Her first court appearance before the ‘Huddersfield Magistrate’s Court’ resulted in her receiving a heavy fine and the payment of compensation to her victim, whose nose she had broken after she perceived the other woman as having been too flirtatious with her husband in a Huddersfield pub.
Her second appearance was before the ‘Oldham Magistrate’s Court’. On the evening of that offence, she got in another pub altercation and had ‘glassed’ a woman in the process. Her victim was extremely fortunate to get away with a dozen stitches across her forehead and a scar. On this occasion, her husband was caught in a sexually compromising position in an alley outside an Oldham pub with the other woman. He had apparently been exchanging glances with a blonde woman who was sitting with three female friends on a nearby table. Shortly after he left his wife to ostensibly go to the toilet. His wife also saw the other woman leave her table shortly after. When neither her husband nor the other woman had not come back after ten minutes to their respective tables, his jealous wife went looking for him. She literally caught him down the side of the pub, with his hand inside the opened blouse of the busty blonde. Upon seeing his enraged wife approach, his female companion hurriedly tried to rearrange her clothing. A row ensued between the two women, with the male philanderer attempting to stop both women from killing each other. He managed to pull both women apart, and their physical altercation then turned into a verbal slanging match between all three parties. The other blonde woman went back inside the pub to her friends, leaving the man and his wife outside swearing and shouting abuse at each other.
After a loud verbal argument between husband and wife, they also went back inside the pub, still rowing with each other. The other woman had resumed talking to her own group of friends and as the man and his wife sat back down at their table, the group at the table of the blonde bombshell nearby started laughing loudly. Believing that she had been the butt of their private joke and raucous laughter, without any warning or further provocation, the man’s wife walked across to the other woman’s table with a half-pint glass of beer and smashed the glass in her face. As she glassed the other woman, she swore obscenities at her, telling her to ‘Leave my man alone or else I’ll f…ing kill you!”
For the physical injuries she caused the other woman (who required hospital treatment) and was lucky not to have lost the sight of one eye, she received a six-month prison sentence that was suspended for two years. She was told by the sentencing court that if she stayed out of trouble over the following two years, she would retain her freedom but added that any offence she committed within the following two years, she would get sentenced for ‘in addition’ to serving the six-month prison sentence that had been previously suspended.
Unfortunately, she had only managed to keep out of trouble for thirteen months since her previous court appearance before her current offence had brought her in breach of her suspended prison sentence.
I interviewed her on three occasions and with her husband present once. Put plainly, he was a very handsome man aged thirty, and while he was undoubtedly a good father, he was an outlandish flirt and an impulsive philanderer who perceived himself as being God’s gift to all women. Despite his muscular build, he was not the type to get himself into physical brawls with other men; probably out of fear of having his good looks spoiled in a fight. Whenever sober, he was highly sociable and popular with his peers, but get a few pints of Guinness down him and he would start chatting up any woman who gave him the eye, and he always had a few takers. His wife was aware of his weaknesses and that is why she always kept a close eye on him and would always accompany him to the pubs on an evening. She loved her husband to bits but knew that if she did not keep him close to her on a short leash, he would stray at the first opportunity that came his way. She told me that she would do anything to keep the family unit intact, and said, “Travellers marry for life, not just for Christmas!"
Her third offence which breached her suspended prison sentence resulted in her to being sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. Being a travelling family who would move residential sites twice yearly, her husband moved their caravan to an area site with his mother and the two children that were close to the prison where his wife was serving her sentence. I never heard of them again. Today’s song reminds me of her determination to keep her man.
Love and peace Bill xxx