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FRENCH FEMINISTS WANT TO BAN THE WORD "MADEMOISELLE"


Society & Culture  (tags: world, women, women's rights, society, politics, education, ethics, freedoms, news, rights )

Cal
- 1115 days ago - worldcrunch.com
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 latest so-called battle for women's liberatio



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Comments

Simone D. (1485)
Friday September 30, 2011, 8:24 am

Thank you Cal!
 

Elizabeth P. (102)
Friday September 30, 2011, 9:17 am
Whats the big deal? Sorry but I find this on the silly side. Thank you.
 

Jennifer G. (14)
Friday September 30, 2011, 11:13 am
I find the author's last comment, "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" particularly telling, and I agree.
 

Terry King (109)
Friday September 30, 2011, 1:26 pm
They could leave it blank.
 

Kamila A. (141)
Friday September 30, 2011, 2:46 pm
But, but, that's my favorite Chanel scent! what will it be changed to.....so disillusioning.
 

Aletta Kraan (146)
Friday September 30, 2011, 4:41 pm
Fine with me !!!
 

Samantha Trosky (152)
Friday September 30, 2011, 6:13 pm
I have a child and I have never been married and I find it annoying when I get mail from my son's school that says "Mrs." His dad is the only man in is life and it is extra weird since it has both of our names and as if we live together AND I am a "Mrs." like I have some weird household where I have a new husband and still live with his dad! NOT!!!!!!
Since my names is Sam short for Samantha and sometimes I get mail that says "Mr." With gay rights on the rise I hope we get rid of the whole Miss, Ms., Mrs., Mr. thing! Really I think it is no one's business if a woman is married or not. Hello, that is why "Ms." magazine was named as such!
 

Elle J. (279)
Friday September 30, 2011, 10:23 pm
Noted! How would you tell a married woman from an unmarried woman? This action makes absolutely no sense to me! I think it is a personal preference and it should be left alone. Viva la France!
 

Myron Scott (70)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 12:42 am
I'm surprised that it took the country of Simone de Beauvoir so long to get around to this.

Although the article equates Mademoiselle with "Ms.," it more accurately is equated with "Miss." It connotes marital status (as does Miss, in contrast to Mrs.). "Ms." became common in English in the 70s and 80s (as Sam T. states) precisely to avoid classifying women according to their marital status. After all, men are not subjected to the same thing. If a form truly needs to know whether a man is married, there are always little boxes to check saying "married" and "single." Most forms today provide all women with all three options, and the cause of sexual equality has not suffered as a result, nor has society crumbled.

The French term is more demeaning than the English Miss, inasmuch as it literally means "my little girl" (ma
demoiselle). How many adult American women would like to be called "my little girl" by every man they meet, simply because they are not married?

It's glib to say that French women face more important forms of discrimination. No doubt they do, as did American women in the 70s and 80s, and still do to some extent. The theory behind the movement for the new term "Ms.," however, was that discriminatory language can reinforce other forms of discrimination, all the more powerfully for operating subconsciously, as well as consciously; and the sociological sub-discipline of sociolinguistics produced numerous studies demonstrating such an effect.

I don't know why so many women (e.g., in their comments here) regard such concerns as "silly" - and I wonder how many of them self-identify as Mrs. or, especially, Miss, rather than Ms. Whatever the reason, this phenomenon hasn't changed since the heyday of American Second Wave Feminism; but an awful lot of women today do prefer to use "Ms." They certainly should have that option, in France as well as here.

My wife of over two decades sometimes uses Mrs., when there's a specific reason to do so, but more often goes by Ms., and has always done so, because, as Sam T. says, whether she's married or not usually is nobody's damned business.

I think, if I were faced with the same dilemma, I feel the same. So, I join her in saying "Vive l'egalite."

BTW, ladies (if I may call you that), if you don't think knowing your marital status can make a significant difference in the way men regard you, you do not know men.


 

Serena Ciarrocchi (34)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 4:37 am
well,i m aware of the importance of avoiding any form of discrimination,but i think there is too much concentration on formal discrimination.what about the real discriminatons on work,on life,on common thinking?this is a good battle,but of little interest to me,cause it is so formal.when people think that if i stay home from work to go after my babies is a good thing and not only a weight for the company i work for,when i gain the men's 1$ salary instead of the medium world women's 70 cents salary,when i don't risk to be dismissed just cause" i cannot pay your stay at home pregnancy period,even though u are one of the best workers i have" ....well,then i'll be satisfied,and i could accept to be called whatever u want,i don t mind how u call me,but how u treat me.btw,on every form i put "ms." and i'll keep doing it.
 

Jytte Nhanenge (64)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 6:35 am
Lovely comment Myron and Sam.

If people are unaware I regret to have to inform them that we are living in a patriarchal world. It means that everything that belong to the feminine category, manifested as women, colored people, traditional people, children, poor people, and nature are considered subordinate to the superior, rich, white man. It is a systemic domination, reinforced by national and international political, economic and social structures. Due to this reinforcement 70 percent of all poor people are women. In my experience also the structure of marriage, is used as a way of giving men permission to dominate women. Thus, this feminist demand may seems a small thing on the surface, but the ongoing, systemic marginalization of women in all aspects of life including their title, is in reality a very BIG thing.

Thank you Cal for making aware.
 

Past Member (0)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 7:31 am
The comments are more enlightening than the article, thanks.
 

Dee C. (209)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 8:20 am
I guess I see this as we are not labels..they just don't define who and or what we are..I think we could do far better without many of them..but certainly should not be effected by any of them..
Just my opinion..
Thanks Cal..
noted..
 

Brenda Towers (0)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 9:00 am
One is either married or not! What's all the fuss about.?
 

Ginger Strivelli (19)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 1:37 pm
I ave always disliked the use of Ms. it seems to say that being a Miss or Mrs is undesirable and they are ashamed to admit they are a Miss...or a Mrs. and so use 'ms' instead. What is wrong with being called Miss if you are unmarried? What is wrong with Mrs. if you are married? You either are married or married so Miss or Mrs one r the other is correct, there is n need for the third PC term.
And this french story, is even dumber, no one can be identified as an unmarried woman?
 

Juliette Calderone (91)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 2:13 pm
I think Mademoiselle is a very pretty word , When said it sounds so nice . The French should not take this aesthetic word away .
 

Elizabeth M. (67)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 2:40 pm
I agree totally with the last paragraph that women have far more important issues to deal with.
 

Joe R. (191)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 3:23 pm
If the hommes don't have to reveal their marital status, then the femmes should not have to tell either.
 

Veronique L. (213)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 3:57 pm
Who cares? I am French, and I really don't care!
Feminists really have a problem. God, aren't there any more serious issues to deal with??
 

Lindsay Kemp (1)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 4:36 pm
I can understand that there might well be times when a woman might not want to reveal her marital status to all and sundry. In Holland all women over a certain age (?early 20s) are referred to as Mevrouw which is, perhaps a little more respectful than the term Juffrouw, which is used for younger women and girls. A bit like the difference between Master and Mr. in Britain.
 

pam w. (191)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 5:07 pm
As to the "importance" of these issues....if they're important to women, why not? I've been using MS in all correspondence for decades--and it was feminists who raised the issue and brought action to it. Why not? Any woman can use any designation she chooses...and MS (or MADAME) should be on the list of options.
 

Mary Donnelly (47)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 5:21 pm
Thanks Cal. Interesting post--more interesting comments.
 

Bruce Van Tassell (7)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 7:44 pm
Give me a break on the list of potential banning of this has to rate low. Instead of the N word now it's the M word?
 

Donna Hamilton (144)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 10:21 pm
I think people should have the courtesey to address you however you wish to be addressed. Like Sam T, I resent being addressed as Mrs when I have never been married - I fid the assumption is made when people know I'm a householder; as if a 'feeble' woman could never manage to purchase a house on her own!
 

Alexandra Rodda (177)
Sunday October 2, 2011, 12:32 am
When young I used to think:" What's in a name? A rose, t'were any other name would reek the same!" ( I always misquote the bard on this one) So I allowed people to call me "Mrs" when I was not being "Dr".
Now that I know a bit more, I insist that they call me Ms. Not just for myself, but for all women.
 

Rose NoFWDSPLZ (276)
Sunday October 2, 2011, 12:41 am
I agree Alexandra
 

KS Goh (0)
Sunday October 2, 2011, 1:17 am
Thanks for the article.
 

Simon Rpbson (0)
Sunday October 2, 2011, 4:26 am
Mademoiselle is not the equivalent of Ms bit of Miss. I lived in France in 1990 and even then mademoiselle was little used either verbally or written. Isn't it high time that we dropped the use of all titles!
 

Muriel Servaege (48)
Sunday October 2, 2011, 4:41 am
Thank you. I find their argument useless. Je trouve ça stupide. Ont-elles besoin de cela pour asseoir leur personnalité? Do they need that to assert their personality, and what they are as opposed to what men are?
Why not fight to make a difference between married men and bachelors?
 

Helle H. (21)
Sunday October 2, 2011, 5:44 am
What's the problem, I dont't care fi I'm call mrs., ms, mr. or whatever.
 

Samantha Trosky (152)
Sunday October 2, 2011, 11:18 am
Ginger, the point is for many women marriage is ownership! I am not married nor do I ever plan to get married. The thought of a huge fluffy white dress makes me shudder! I do like the idea of being with the same person till death do you part..... For the French they do not even have the equivalent of the Ms. option! That is a large part of the point. Also, the article states mademoiselle not only means little girl it also means virgin. You cannot tell me that is not insulting! I am 38 and if someone called me little girl I would tell them off!
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday October 2, 2011, 1:29 pm
Why not abolish the whole system? What's the point in having those "Mr" and "Ms" anyways? We don't have that in Sweden, and we're doing fine. ;)
 

Sharon Balloch (132)
Sunday October 2, 2011, 2:52 pm
Well no one has called me Miss or Mademoiselle in decades thats what I am ticked off about..
 

Rebecca Chan (7)
Monday October 3, 2011, 8:01 am
I had found the elicited comments far more interesting. I had always thought Mademoiselle a rather pretty word, if girlish sounding. Now that I know it implies virginity and means my little girl, I must say I cannot imagine for a moment to be associated with it. Imagine a 49 year old virgin little girl ! (Shudder) If I should need to fill in those forms, I will leave that indicator blank.
 

Samantha Trosky (152)
Monday October 3, 2011, 10:37 am
Thanks for the laugh Sharon! :)
 

Carole R. (9)
Monday October 3, 2011, 11:17 am
Gee ... can't you find a real problem to address and put your energy into? Who cares if people know you're single? There's nothing wrong with that. Get over it.
 

Samantha Trosky (152)
Monday October 3, 2011, 11:30 am
For the ladies who don't "get" why this is an issue, you're just too shallow to get it. You have to be a "deep" person to fully get why this is an issue. Sorry if the truth hurts! We need to get rid of labels!
 
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