Putting on class to save my gender

Every time I go back home to Ahmedabad, I suddenly become conscious of my social class in a way I never do here in Paris. Every act, every movement suddenly becomes a path to negotiation of my place in the society; an ever-sensitive tension lies as I negotiate my space as a woman, as someone who is revolting against “what should have been.”

Every time I go back home, I have to hide the fact that I bike my way to the universities where I teach here in Paris. I have to hide a part of my average upbringing, so that I can legitimately make claims to a superior position.

Most of my time is spent hiding what would otherwise slip out of my internalized movements or the way I laugh too loud or the way I cannot talk about soap operas and the latest Bollywood movie. Most of my time is spent building walls so that I don’t let the pieces of myself fall out.

One of my excuses to myself to continue this pattern of putting on a class has been that it helps me establish a higher position in relation to men who cat-call, men who are always on patrol to catch an occasion to gain sexual access. I feel the need to use the system of class in a way that reinforces this class so that I can protect myself from my own gender.


About Shreya Parikh

I am Shreya. Project Rethought is my attempt to rethink my own observations as a brown woman of Indian origin. I currently live in Paris where I teach at Sciences Po Paris and Parsons Paris-The New School.
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