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Strong Women or Absent Women?

Jolie DyetChloe Brandon


7. Conclusion

6. Positive Representation

5. Negative Representation

4. Sweet Sixteen

3. Tutti Frutti

2. Women as mystical beings

8. Bibliography

1. National Identities

National Identities

Identities in Scottish culture have been determined by "intellectuals" through national distinctive qualities.These qualities have been grouped to create a clear image of Scottish cuture from the 19th century. (Boden, 2000, cited in McGrone, 2002)The identities were constructed through traditional masculine and feminine roles.Clydesidism - working class menTartanry - "male-military image"

(Blain & Hutchison, 2008, P. 185)

“The trappings of modern civilisation are undermined by a mix of natural and supernatural elements: mists, winds, tides, mermaids and monsters. The gendering of these mysterious and wayward elements as feminine is clear, and mirrored in the characters’ encounters with women who are presented as rooted, and as authentic in their connection with the ancient rhythms of home and hearth (Sheena in The Maggie , Peggy and Catriona in Whisky Galore , Stella in Local Hero , Laura and daughter Isabel in Loch Ness ); or as carrying the magic of the land within them (Fiona in Brigadoon , and mermaid Marina in Local Hero )”

"The serial's valorisation of the feminine principle as the saviour of men from the flaws of their masculinity... seems very much in keeping with 1980's feminist zeitgeist" (Cook, 2008)

Tutti Frutti

  • John Byrne's 1987 drama series Tutti Frutti broadens the concept of masculinity set by previous Scottish identities (Clydesidism).
  • The series "exposes the failings of traditional conceptions of masculinity in order to bury the stereotype of the "hard man" once and for all" (Petrie, 2004).
  • The "hard man" persona is made a subject of comedy.
  • It prioritises the female role of Suzi Kettles as the hero.
“Female characters and the land itself are mapped across one another, both functioning as backdrop to the journey of the male protagonist” (Blain & Hutchison, 2008, P. 185)

Sweet Sixteen (2002)

  • The mother (Jean) is portrayed as a weak woman who is trapped by her abusive boyfriend despite her son Liam trying to give her a better chance at life following her prison sentence.
  • Chantelle - “I’ll no be taken for a social worker. We’ll share the cooking and the cleaning”.
  • Suzanne - “The bird can speak for herself”

Negative Representations - Just Another Saturday

  • Along with the "crisis in masculinity", women are expected to be providers of essential and functional support. (Sillars and MacDonald, 2008)
  • Just Another Saturday (1975): John's mother shows a clear domestic role in the household.
  • As John's father is unemployed, he reinforces the role of support within her: "She's all I've got".
“Unlike many films focused around male characters, female friendship films explore ‘alternatives to women’s complete dependence on men and family for self-affirmation’. They offer different visions of ‘female relationships and their impacts on women’s personal lives’, as opposed to a direct, or oppositional political engagement with patriarchy.” (Martin-Jones, 2010, p.197)

Positive Representation - Nina's Heavenly Delights (2006)

  • "what about my heart?"
  • "you wanted me to shrivel away with a man I didnt love"
  • Loss of direction in life and how she faces this new chapter of her life following the passing of her father
“In a film lasting nearly two and three quarter hours, Wallace’s screen time with Murron amounts to under 15 minutes and with Isabelle, under six minutes “(McArthur, 2003, p.197)


  • There has clearly been a lack of strong female characters throughout scottish film and television for many reasons.
  • Confined to a maternal or romantic role.
  • Positive shifts are being seen in more recent years with a couple of notable examples in previous years.
  • Overall, gradually moving away from women being abscent or weak, and moving towards strong representation.


  • McCrone, D, 2002, Understanding Scotland: The Sociology of a Nation, London, Routledge
  • Sillars, J. and MacDonald, M. (2008) ‘Gender, Spaces, Changes: Emergent Identities in a Scotland in Transition’, in The media in Scotland. Edinburgh University Press.
  • Cook, J. R. (2008) “Three Ring Circus: Television Drama about, by and for Scotland”, The Media in Scotland, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh
  • Torricelli, E (2016) “Digital Places, Feminine Spaces: Scotland Re-gendered in Twenty-first Century Film”, White Rose eTheses Online
  • Martin-Jones, D. (2010) ‘The Woman’s Film in Scotland’, in Scotland: Global Cinema : Genres, Modes and Identities. Edinburgh University Press.
  • McArthur, C. (2003) ‘It Takes One To Know One: Braveheart’s Appeal to the Proto-Fascist Psyche’, in Brigadoon, Braveheart, and the Scots : distortions of Scotland in Hollywood cinema. I. B. Tauris & Company, Limited
  • Sweet Sixteen (2002). Directed by Ken Loach. BBC, Sixteen Films
  • Nina’s Heavenly Delights (2006). Directed by Pratibha Parmar. Kali Films; Priority Pictures

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