French senate aims to ban 'inclusive writing'

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
French senate aims to ban 'inclusive writing'
Members of the French Senate in Paris on October 2, 2023. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

Right-wing French senators have proposed a bill that would restrict the use of 'inclusive writing', a style that increases the visibility of feminine versions of nouns and offers non-binary substitutes for gendered terms.


The French senate on Monday will begin debating a bill that would ban 'inclusive writing' - a style intended to increase gender equality in the French language - in some parts of French society.

The bill, proposed by senator Pascale Gruny from Les Républicains (traditionally France's party of the centre-right, though today increasingly populist) would ban inclusive writing "in all cases where the legislator (and possibly the regulatory authority) requires a document in French", according to BFMTV.


Inclusive writing consists of using a 'median point' to include both the masculine and feminine version of words, particularly job titles.

Here are some examples:

  • musicien·ne·s - which refers to a male musician (musicien), a female musician (musicienne) and the masculine and feminine plural (musiciens, musiciennes)
  • citoyen·ne·s - a male citizen (citoyen) a female citizen (citoyenne) or the masculine and feminine plural (citoyens, citoyennes)

READ MORE: What is 'inclusive writing' and what does it mean for French noun rules?

While it is not widespread, its use is becoming more common particularly in political contexts where it is especially favoured by left-wing groups. 

The ban proposed by senators would include administrative documents, job adverts, employment contracts, internal rules and regulations for companies as well as legal acts, such as court documents.

Senators are specifically taking aim at the use of 'néologismes' - when a new word is created to combine both the masculine and feminine version. For example, the non-binary pronoun iel would fit into this, as it is a contraction of il (the masculine pronoun) and elle (the feminine pronoun). 

READ MORE: Museum of the French language to open in northern France

Inclusive writing (écriture inclusive) is controversial in France, with the Académie Française, the country's language protection body, having called it a 'mortal danger' for the French language.

Advocates say it allows the language to include everyone, rather than defaulting to the masculine forms of words.

A recent study found that 63 percent of 18-34 year-olds in France were in favour of administrations using the median point typical of inclusive writing, compared with 36 percent of the over-65s.

Spokesperson for the LR party, Cédric Vial, told AFP that "[inclusive writing] is contrary to inclusion. It's an additional constraint, and the people most affected by its use are those with disabilities or dyslexia, as well as people who are not literate".


He explained that the bill would not stop "double flexions" such as writing les sénateurs et les sénatrices instead of just the masculine form: les sénateurs.

However, it would target the usage of the term 'sénateur.rice.s' which uses inclusive writing to combine the gendered terms.

The bill has been blasted by politicians on the left. Socialist Senator Yan Chantrel told BFMTV that the text is "unconstitutional, retrograde and reactionary, and part of a long-standing conservative trend against the visibility of women".

French President Emmanuel Macron waded into a culture war debate on Monday, saying France should "not give in to  fashionable trends" as he appeared to back a bill to ban "inclusive language".

"In this language, the neutral form is provided by the masculine. We don't need to add dots in the middle of words to make it better understood," Macron added.

Previous attempts at banning inclusive writing have been made, notably in 2021, former French education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer sent out a memo to schools stating that the style should not be used in the public education system.

The bill may pass in the Senate, which has a majority right-wing distribution but it cannot become law without also passing in the Assemblée Nationale - it's considered much less likely that it would pass, since it has a larger bloc of centre-left and left wing representatives. 


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also