Work
in Myth and materiality in a woman’s world
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This chapter covers the majority of the work experiences of Shetland women. An understanding of women's work patterns and experiences is central to any analysis of women's lives in Shetland and the gender relations contingent upon this. Women's words from Shetland speak to us of economic autonomy in a culture where the discourses of separate spheres and of domesticity had little purchase. The dominant and idealised image of the Shetland woman has become synonymous with the female farmer and crofter. Knitting was a life-line for Shetland households. The female crofter and knitter have an iconic and symbolic status in Shetland, but the female herring gutter is a more ambiguous character. The espousal of a system of gender equality within the fishing-crofting household is contrasted with what is sometimes portrayed as a Scottish and even British subordination of women in the home and the workplace.

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