"Them over there" : Meadows, Motherhood and Marginality in Shane Meadows' Films

Louise Fitzgerald, Sarah Godfrey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Despite Shane Meadows’ apparent awareness of the ways in which white, working-class women were subjugated within a male dominated environment of Northern England in the Thatcher era there appears to be little evidence in his films to date of an explicit critique of those power dynamics and their impact on women’s lived experience since his debut Small Time. The absence of a detailed and deliberate consideration of female experience sits in sharp contrast to the dominant thematic concern of his films: what it means to be a man. Indeed there exists a marked dichotomy in Meadows’ treatment of gender that elaborates on questions of British working class masculinity at great length and in great depth while simultaneously containing and limiting female narrative agency and truncating the representational spectrum of British working class femininity. The limited representation of British working class femininity in Meadows’ work is noteworthy especially because the discourses about unemployment and financial disempowerment that are rigorously articulated in his films invoke an emasculatory female figure. The devastating effects of Tory economic policy were not wholly levelled at the Conservative party per se but very specifically at Margaret Thatcher herself; the common reference to ‘That bloody woman’ functions, for Meadows to authenticate and legitimate both his own experiences and the narratives that he constructs for his characters. Just as this discursive strategy prioritises the damaging effects of a woman on male-centric communities Meadows also invokes femininity as problematic. This chapter serves as a response to the overall lack of attention paid to the ways in which women’s lived experiences are presented within Meadows’ work, a lack of attention that is mirrored in the academic focus on this British filmmaker.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShane Meadows Critical Essays
EditorsMartin Fradley, Sarah Godfrey, Melanie Williams
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780748676392
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2013


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