French Women Urge End to Official Use of ‘Mademoiselle’

French feminists have petitioned the government to remove the title ‘mademoiselle’ from official documents, making ‘madame’ the appropriate title for all women. The largest feminist organization in France, Les Chiennes de Guarde (The Guard Dogs), supports the appeal, on the grounds that using both titles is discriminatory, as it unfairly requires women to disclose their marital status and sexual availability. The petition will require 7,000 signatures to move forward Ð so far, 2,300 have been collected online.

There is no plan to create a third option, like the English-language ÔMs.’ American and British feminists agitated for the use of Ms. several decades ago. Ms. magazine was founded in 1972, but The New York Times only began to use the title in its news and editorial articles in 1986, after much pressure from the women’s movement.

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BBC 4/13/06; Cape Times 4/23/06; Le Monde 4/20/06; NYT memo 1986

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