Maya Zaveri

July 2, 1995 - India
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Coquette

I learnt a new word today.
‘Coquette’
I didn’t know there was a word for
a flirtatious woman
in particular.
Sometimes I like how my curiosity makes me
want to learn things
that won’t matter in a few months,
or weeks
or days.
But this word looked different.
Because I’ve flirted with a few men
and have been called a bitch,
a slut
I’ve been told how flirting
is a character flaw
by women who were put in place
by their ‘better halves’
for going out of line
when they only tried to ask
for equal rights.

It got me thinking
how coquettes are
marginalised
in the society where
mackers are as common
as houseflies in a busy marketplace
and no one tells them how
that is a character flaw.

Like a recurring nightmare,
I come across people who call me whore
because ‘civilised ladies know it’s sick
to yield to their desires.
That’s a man’s job.’

But then I remember
you don’t have to be a coquette
to be called a whore.
Being a woman is enough.
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