Photo Credit: Terence Le Goubin/Getty Images
In a decades-overdue move, France has caught up with the times and officially banned the outdated use of "mademoiselle" (akin to "miss" in English) on all government paperwork. According to The New York Times, women in France previously had to declare their marital status when filling out official documents, choosing between the married "madame" option and the unmarried "mademoiselle." Men, however, simply have to check "monsier," which means "sir."
The decision was announced in a memo yesterday by Prime Minister Francois Fillon and according to the BBC, came under pressure from women's groups like Osez le Feminisme ("Dare to be Feminist") that have long found the term condescending. The move, according to the group's spokeswoman, is a baby step -- she's hoping that private organizations follow suit and that eventually the term itself falls out of popular use. "Everywhere we are asked to declare our marital status. This is not imposed on men, it's not important whether they are married," added Julie Muret of Osez le Feminisme.
The Prime Minister's memo also noted that going forward the "maiden name" and "married name" slots on official documents (including tax forms, insurance claims and voting cards) would be replaced by "family name" and "used name." Unlike English-speaking countries, France does not have a marriage-neutral honorific like "Ms."
While some are balking at the decision -- "[Mademoiselle] is flattering ... It makes a person feel younger!" one French women told The New York Times -- most will likely see this decision as a much-needed step in the right direction for female equality in France.