|Issue 5 - May 1972|
|It is a fact
that in this male orientated / dominated society, women are deterred
from developing individuality; they are reared to help make the male's
life less troublesome and more enjoyable. Each sex has its defined
roles - the man is the breadwinner who has been taught to accept the
alienation, boredom and hostility which now goes hand in hand with
'winning bread', and the woman is the person who has to juggle around
the money squeezed out of his employers to try to ensure that he has
a meal, slippers, papers, television, and her to greet him when he
comes home. If these roles are upset, both the male and female tend
to suffer social consequences: if a man refuses to work he becomes
'voluntarily unemployed' with all the stigma attached to it (he is
not fulfilling his role) or if he can't find a job he starts campaigning
for the 'right to work'; if a woman gets a job she ends up with wages
far lower than her mate would for doing the same job as well as getting
criticised for keeping a man unemployed by doing a job he could do.
Because a man is trained for an independent state of existence (a woman is not essential - hence the romanticism of bachelorship) he finds life not too bad if he's not married but because a woman is trained for partnership (hence the social stigmatism of spinsterhood) she finds life poses many problems if she is not married.
And perhaps the greatest problem unemployed single women face is that horrible male organised institution the Social Security. It cannot accept that women can live without men, and seems to take it for granted that any woman who does say she is single is a liar and must be cohabiting with a man. To satisfy themselves that this is so the SS employs a team of Special Investigators to snoop and spy on single women receiving social security - watching their houses, seeing if they go out at night, if they have boyfriends, if men visit the house - in the hope that they can uncover some fiendish plot of deception and refuse to pay benefit to the woman. As so many women have had their benefit cut off, through the reports of these SS spies, we feel that it is important to explain what cohabitation is and how you can fight the SS when it accuses you of it.
Basically the social Security Act 1966 states in paragraph 3, schedule 2, that "where a husband and wife are members of the same household their requirement and resources shall be aggregated and shall be treated as the husband's, and similarly, unless there are exceptional circumstances as regards two people cohabiting as man and wife". This means that if you are single, and receiving supplementary benefit, the SS can refuse to pay you any money if they think you are living with a man. Under the 1966 Social Security Act, as quoted above, the SS is supposed to agree that cohabitation is taking place if a couple are living together as man and wife. However, a pamphlet put out by the Supplementary Benefits Commissioners, and signed by Sir Keith Joseph, the Secretary of State for Social Services, redefines cohabitation. This pamphlet, called Cohabitation, has no legal standing but is the guide used by the SS for deciding cohabitation. In short, it defines cohabitation as being much less than the relationship between man and wife and in so doing brings many more women under the cohabitation rules making them eligible for Social Security. This is a typical mean trick to save the SS money at the expense of forcing human beings into poverty. It also causes many more relationships between couples to break up, as either the male can't afford to support the female or is unwilling to as he does not think the relationship between them is strong enough. Under this pamphlet, cohabitation is defined as taking place when: the same surname is used, the man uses the same address, living expenses are shared, the regular sleeping arrangements are similar to those of a married couple or the couple have children. Each of these definitions could happen to couples not living 'as man and wife;' and though they aren't cohabiting under the Act they are under the whiles and whims and money saving tactics of the SS.
But many people are accused of cohabiting for even more reasons than those outlined in the pamphlet. They try to tell you that when you dare to sleep with a man, have a boyfriend or have a male lodger you are cohabiting. Well you are not. Appeal if they try to pull this one on you, but first of all try raising all hell in the SS offices. Talking in a shout is not illegal as it is often much more effective than going to the lackeys at the appeals tribunal.
Many accusations of cohabitation come after the SS spies - the Special Investigators - have been snooping around. But what are Special Investigators? Well, a Special Investigator, says the Cohabitation pamphlet, is an SS officer who exists to check up on people they think have given the SS false information. An anonymous letter from a nasty neighbour saying that you are cohabiting is enough to start these snoopers watching your every move and asking your friends and neighbours questions about you. In the words of the pamphlet, "enquiries may have to be made in the neighbourhood or a watch kept on the house". The pamphlet admits that this is done without the knowledge of the victim but tells us that their spies are specially trained for a job "involving at least embarrassment and at worst a risk of physical violence". We've contacted the National Council of Civil Liberties about these Special Investigators and they are looking into the possibilities of whether it would be possible for a claimant to take legal action against them (the SI) for things like invasion of privacy, harassment, peeping tomfoolery (or whatever the legal equivalent is) etc. We hope to be able to give you the results of these investigations in the next issue.
If a Special Investigator tries to get into your house (or a general run of the mill SS visiting officer), remember you have the right to kick him out at any time or refuse him entry. Use this right. Refuse to let anyone from the SS in if they have not given you at least 24 hours notice of their visit. No SS officer has the 'right' to enter your home. When they are there, they are there as guests and have the same rights as guests - i.e. none. If one tries to force his way in, or refuses to leave, you can take any reasonable action deemed necessary to get him out or prevent him from entering.