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'Mademoiselles' no more in France

February 22, 2012 |  5:17 pm

French women are "mademoiselles" no more.

The French government is stripping the term from government paperwork under pressure from feminist groups, the BBC and other outlets report. The Times' Kim Willsher reported on the movement against "mademoiselle" this year after it was eliminated from official forms in the small town of Cesson-Sevigne:

"Mademoiselle," the Gallic form of "miss," is normally used for young, unmarried women, thus, feminists say, openly declaring them either available or unwanted in a way that men, always referred to as "monsieur," are not. A French form of "Ms." would solve the problem, but there you go ...

"It's about eliminating all terms that could be discriminatory or indiscreet," the town hall at Cesson-Sevigne, a suburb of the western town of Rennes, in Brittany, said in a statement explaining that the title "mademoiselle" had been banished from all official forms since the beginning of the year. "The existence of two different terms to indicate women who are married and those who aren't is a discrimination for women because there is no differentiation that exists for men."

Willsher wrote that before the French Revolution, "mademoiselle" had little to do with whether a woman was married. Any commoner was called "mademoiselle," while women of high birth were "madame."

There are, however, some French women who prefer "mademoiselle" over "madame." Movie stars such as Catherine Deneuve and Jeanne Moreau are allowed to use the title as they wish, Willsher wrote.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

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