Class and living: A room for me alone

Class and living: A room for me alone

Anyone who had to share a room as a child knows the dialectic of living together: what gives security also has its downsides.

A child hangs from a bunk bed.  In the background a girl and a boy reading together

Sharing a room means: Enduring the snoring of others, but also waking up together Photo: Viktoryia Verstak/imago

class trip, training camp, functional student flat share – once you have done that, you will know at the latest what it means to share a room. It means communal warmth, friendly intimacy, unmistakable closeness. It’s similar to the feeling children get when they build a tent out of blankets, pillows and furniture with others to hide in and make themselves at home.

Like everything else in life that gives you a sense of security, sharing a room also has its downsides. Because if your roommate snores or farts in his sleep or is annoying because he doesn’t stop talking before he falls asleep, or wakes up at night, turns on the light and jumps very loudly from the bunk bed to urinate, then enthusiasm turns into irritation.

who with one or had to share a room with several siblings, knows this dialectic of room sharing and also strategies against what gets on your nerves. The single or large apartment children have to learn it first. During my studies, I therefore gave part-time advice to fellow students who were in a hurry and in anticipation of the revolution in alternative housing projects have fallen.

The nice thing: wake up together

Since then the class one category Renaissance in the social debate experienced, there is also a passionate discussion about which experiences, biographical moments and everyday observations can actually be traced back to class origin – and which cannot. As good as it is that these disputes exist because they give shape to what we are talking about, the connection between housing (and therefore also parts of a room) and social status is just as certain – especially nowadays, when the housing question is the social question par excellence.

At a very different time, in 1929, Virginia Woolf’s feminist essay A Room of Her Own appeared. In it, she addresses the production conditions of women’s literature. The title stands literally and at the same time symbolically for the requirements of such literature: You don’t just need your own room to be able to write a book in peace. In Victorian England, whose gender inequality Woolf witnessed, having one’s own room also represented financial and intellectual independence. For women of that time, these were anything but a matter of course – and if at all, they were enjoyed primarily by women from the upper classes.

I’m not a woman and I live in the 21st century, a I only moved into my own room when I was studying. There I wrote my first text that was published. I even write this column in an entire apartment of my own. Despite it I always enjoy the warmth, if I share a room. Waking up together, for example, still weighs heavier than snoring.

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