The French government has taken a small, but very significant step, in recognizing women’s equality to men. A new decree bans the use of the term “mademoiselle” (similar to “Miss” in the US) from all official documents as a way to identify a woman’s title as well as marital status. With the new ruling, official documents will now only have the option of “Madame” for women (or at least this will start when their paper stock runs out!).
Why is this a major victory for French women? Traditionally, French women who are married are referred to as “Madame”, while unmarried women are called “Mademoiselle”. For years, women were given both options on official documents – there was no mysterious term like “Ms” that kept everyone guessing whether or not a woman was married. Instead, French women had to declare that they were either a. married, or b. single. On the contrary, men have been exempt from indicating their marital status, given only once choice for a title – Monsieur.
Although one might think it a compliment to call a young woman mademoiselle, many French women feel it is not flattering to announce to the world a la Bridesmaids that you are “eligible” for dating.
Which do you prefer in the US – Miss, Ms., or Mrs?