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'French language is sexist' feminists say

Clea Caulcutt · 7 Mar 2012, 10:35

Published: 07 Mar 2012 11:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Mar 2012 10:35 GMT+01:00

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French feminists demonstrated in Paris calling on authorities to change French grammar. They say grammar rules convey sexist ideologies and should be reformed.

Feminist activists wore pink gloves and pretended to sweep the floor as they demonstrated on Tuesday evening in front the French Academy in Paris, French daily Le Parisien reports. Activists say they want the academy, the official authority on French language, to change grammar rules and sweep stereotypes away.

French grammar says that when the subjects of a sentence are feminin and masculin, the verbs and the adjectives of the sentence agree with the masculin not with the feminin. The French say "les hommes et les femmes sont beaux" and not "les hommes et les femmes sont belles", which translates as "men and women are beautiful".

Several feminist organisations say this rule was introduced in the 17th century when grammarians decided the masculin was "nobler" than the feminin. Feminists want to scap this rule.

"When we teach children that 'the masculin prevails over the feminin', we teach them that men are superior to women. We teach our children, whether we want to or not, that one sex is superior to the other," the feminist organisations wrote in a press release.

Story continues below…

French feminist organisations have led a similar campaign to see the title "Miss" removed from official paperwork.

Clea Caulcutt (news.france@thelocal.com)

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