Adieu, ‘Mademoiselle’: France bans equivalent of ‘miss’ in government documents

Caroline May | Reporter

The government of France is bidding “adieu” to the word “mademoiselle.”

French Prime Minister François Fillon has ordered that the word “mademoiselle” no longer be used in government documents.

The New York Times reports that Fillon issued a memo to state administrators across the country forbidding the title, explaining that the word references a woman’s “matrimonial situation,” and does so “without justification nor necessity.”

Prior to the ban, women were referred to as either as madame (the English equivalent of Mrs.) or mademoiselle (the equivalent of Miss), depending on their marital status. Men are simply referred to as monsieur (Mr.).

The victory is one for the French feminists who earlier this year were able to eliminate the marital distinction from the town of Cesson-Sevigne.

Fillon’s memo followed a campaign by feminist groups who saw sexism in the linguistic need to explain their marital status in a title.

“Everywhere we are asked to declare our marital status. This is not imposed on men, it’s not important whether they are married,” Julie Muret of the feminist group Osez le Feminisme told the BBC.

“You’ve never wondered why we don’t call a single man ‘mondamoiseau,’ or even, ‘young male virgin?’” feminists on an advocacy website asked, according to a New York Times translation. “Not surprising: this sort of distinction is reserved for women.”

Fillon’s memo also eliminates questions referring to “maiden name” and “spouse’s name,” replacing them with “family name,” according to the BBC.

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