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Town gets rid of 'mademoiselle'

Matthew Warren · 6 Jan 2012, 11:57

Published: 06 Jan 2012 11:57 GMT+01:00

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A town in the north-west Brittany region has struck a blow for feminist campaigners by banishing the use of the title "mademoiselle", or "miss", from all official forms.

The continued use of "mademoiselle" in France to refer to an unmarried woman has been the subject of heated debate in recent years.

Regional newspaper Ouest France reported that the town of Cesson-Sévigné, which is a suburb of the city of Rennes, took the decision to get rid of the term from all official forms from January 1st 2012.

"This is about getting rid of anything that could be seen as discriminatory or indiscreet," said a statement from the town hall.

"Having two different terms to distinguish between married and non-married women is discrimination against women as there is no such differentiation for men."

The news follows a campaign launched in September to get rid of the "mademoiselle" term from all official forms across France.

Feminist groups Osez le Féminisme and Les Chiennes de Garde wanted to see the term removed from everything from tax returns to rail pass applications.

"Our campaign is aimed at completely removing this sexist title, as it only concerns women," said a spokeswoman for the campaign at the time.

Several other countries have moved beyond having two terms for women. In Germany the use of 'fräulein' is now increasingly rare.

Opinion about the change seemed divided. One male commenter on the newspaper's website said the term "mademoiselle" was a "mark of politeness and recognition vis-a-vis women."

A female commenter had a different view.

"This differentiation between men and women is one of the building blocks of sexism of which women still suffer horribly these days," she said. 

"If you miss it, why not start campaigning to see "damoiseau" put back on official forms," she added in a reference to the old-fashioned title used for young men.



Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

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