The battle over the Nineties and the 00s continues in Clampdown, Rhian E Jones' prodigious, mordant take on the past twenty years cultural and political stagnation.
Clampdown consolidates, synthesizes and extends on several recent-ish books both Zero (Capitalist Realism, One-Dimensional Woman, Uncommon, Folk Opposition) and non-Zero (Chavs, The Last Party, among others) while at the same time offering an extension of their concerns, by building up its own canon of the subversive and politically hopeful and by explicitly focusing on the construction of female identity and the discourse around the abject figure of the female Chav as a kind of Uber or Unter Chav, the very quintessence of Chavdom.
What Clampdown admires is a messy, engaged, and enraged working class feminism that refuses to be disciplined by classed representations of femininity, a feminism that also refuses to be internally divided by those structures. Here actually I am struck by a moment in the film Made in Dagenham (briefly alluded to and worth a close analysis) in which the posh, frustrated middle class graduate goes round to the working class unionist's flat to tell her to keep fighting for the sake of all women. What Clampdown wants is a return to the notion, perfectly prominent up to the mid-nineties that working class women are the vanguard, culturally, politically. What's feared in the figure of the fat, baseball hatted, baggily track-suited, gobby female Chav on a big night out is the genderless and sexually liberated, non-neurotic and undisciplined female subject, object of horror, fascination and dismay and Clampdown flirts with, but doesn't quite fully engage with the radical possibilities therein. And in that sense it also opens up new vistas for speculation.
Too many brilliant insights and witty asides to mention really, but I will say that these lines represent an early highlight.
“In the slice of south Wales where I grew up, the most substantial attempts at economic regeneration seemed to be the daffodils planted along the M4 corridor to improve the view for commuters.”
Yes, yes and a thousand times yes.