There has been a seismic shift in sexual politics in France, but only half the population may notice it.
The government’s decided to drop the word “mademoiselle” from official documents in favour of “madame” – decision that’s being hailed a victory by some women’s rights groups.
Julie Muret from Osez le Feminisme (Dare Feminism) said: “Germany has abandoned Fraulein. The United States have chosen Ms which is the contraction of Miss and Mrs, which is neutral. Denmark has also abandoned, often Nordic countries are more advanced in such matters and on the paperwork in the UK, it’s not so much used either, so you can see that France was late in this matter and today it’s a victory.”
Some female senior citizens agree it’s about time France started exercising its “egalitarian” motto. Parisian Maiha Brunet said: “If you’re a ‘mademoiselle’, you’re not married, but it’s true that a man who is not married is still called ‘monsieur’. That doesn’t change. It’s not normal. Why we should have a change of denomination, while men, we can’t know whether they are married or not.”
Some doubt, however, whether it is going to change the way people speak on a daily basis.
“I think we can keep on going as we used to and I think quite a few young women appreciate it, the same way that young men like me would appreciate to be called young men instead of ‘monsieur’. It can be nice, and so I think the tradition will be saved in everyday life despite the (administrative) forms.”
And the measure is far from being universally supported by women.
‘Madame’ it’s more official actually, for all the administrative, legal aspects, but ‘mademoiselle’, it’s more charming, more poetic,” said cafe drinker, Isabelle Sempere.
So it appears the mademoiselle or madam debate is set to rumble on….