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French Feminists Want To Ban The Word 'Mademoiselle'

Essay: Two feminist associations want to end the differentiation between "Mademoiselle" (Ms.) and "Madame" (Mrs.) imposed on women filling out official documents. One French (female) commentator takes issue with this la

French Feminists Want To Ban The Word 'Mademoiselle'
Natacha Polony

PARIS - French feminist associations sure know their priorities! If further evidence was needed, the "Chiennes de Garde" (Watchdogs) association and its little sister "Osez le féminisme" (Dare Feminism) have launched a campaign against the "Mademoiselle" (Ms.) box that women have to check on official documents.

Their grievances are as follows: To whom must a woman tell whether she's married or not, while men never have to disclose their marital status? More generally, why should they ever declare themselves "Mademoiselle,"which historically suggested that the woman was a virgin?

The differenciation between "Madame" and "Mademoiselle" has nothing official about it. Already in 1972, French Justice Minister René Pleven had stated that the distinction was in no case acknowledged by the law. Yvette Roudy, France's Minister of Women's Rights, even called it "discriminatory" in 1983. But as it happens more often than not, force of habit led to apathy.

As a consequence, the two feminist associations –that are mainly famous for inventing female denominations for job titles, and for an advertising campaign called "Dare Clit!"– have decided to put an end to such prejudice by encouraging women to check the "Madame" box systematically on administrative forms.

In France, women hold 80 percent of low-wage jobs, and continue to be far more affected by poverty than men. There are obviously many fights to be fought. And the associations' priorities of what matters is the latest sad sign of the current state of feminism.

Read the original article in French

Photo - Laure Gautherin

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