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Thread: Au revoir, mademoiselle; French retires term‎

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Default Au revoir, mademoiselle; French retires term‎

    With nary a kiss to the hand nor tears of parting, the French government this week bids adieu to “mademoiselle.”

    In a memo addressed to state administrators across France, Prime Minister François Fillon ordered the honorific — akin to “damsel” and the equivalent of “miss” — banished from official forms and registries. The use of “mademoiselle,” he wrote, made reference “without justification nor necessity” to a woman’s “matrimonial situation,” whereas “monsieur” has long signified simply “sir.”

    The choice of mademoiselle, madame or monsieur appears most everywhere one gives one’s name in France: opening a bank account, shopping on the Internet or paying taxes, for instance.
    Mr. Fillon’s order, signed on Tuesday, came after an advocacy campaign of several months by two French feminist organizations, “Osez le féminisme!” (“Dare to be feminist!”) and Les Chiennes de Garde (The Watchdogs). The government minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, whose portfolio includes questions of “social cohesion,” pleaded the groups’ case with Mr. Fillon.
    “You’ve never wondered why we don’t call a single man ‘mondamoiseau,’ or even ‘young male virgin?’ ” the feminist groups ask on a joint Web site. “Not surprising: this sort of distinction is reserved for women.”
    Magali de Haas, a spokeswoman for “Osez le féminisme!,” expressed the hope that, in time, private organizations would also drop “mademoiselle” and that the term would fall out of popular use.

    The niceties of the French language are monitored and debated by an august institution, the Académie Française, which typically operates on a time scale commensurate with its venerability and has yet to offer comment. Nor have all Frenchwomen rejoiced at news of the change, given not only long tradition but also widespread disdain for more avid strains of feminism, deemed to lack sufficient appreciation for the joys offered by the differences between the sexes.
    Men are often called “jeune homme,” or “young man,” through their 20s, and not “monsieur,” Ms. de Haas noted. She suggested a similar distinction be made between the “young woman” (“jeune femme”) and more senior “madame,” thus avoiding “mademoiselle,” a term that harkens to notions of female subjugation, she said.
    As early as 1690, the terms “mademoiselle” and “demoiselle” were used to signify “unmarried female,” according to the French National Center for Textual and Lexical Resources. “Mademoiselle” entered into official use under Napoleon I, the creator of the French civil code, but came into broader use only in the 20th century, according to Laurence Waki, the author of a recent book on the subject.
    Historians know remarkably little about the origins of the term, Ms. Waki said, which she saw as unsurprising because it refers to women. “It always seemed such a minor detail,” she said, “especially because the majority of historians are men.”

    Ms. Waki said she was “thrilled” to learn that “mademoiselle” would disappear from official forms, though she added, with a bit of chagrin, “I can’t really believe that we’re still only at this stage.”
    Some women deplored the seriousness with which feminists have approached the “mademoiselle” question, shrugging off what Ms. de Haas called “symbolic violence” of the word.
    “I find it’s a shame,” said Juliette Beniti, 61, a former factory worker puffing on a cigarette on a sidewalk just outside Paris. “ ‘Mademoiselle’ had its place.”
    “It’s flattering,” she said. “I often call women ‘mademoiselle.’ It’s pleasing. It makes a person feel younger!”
    Olivia Cattan, the founder and president of Paroles de Femmes (Words of Women), an aid group, said the move was frustrating, given deep gender inequities in pay and political and corporate prominence.
    “We think this measure is just smoke and mirrors, to avoid talking about more important issues,” she said. “The urgency was elsewhere.”
    After a contentious cultural debate decades ago, English-speaking nations have largely replaced “Mrs.” and “Miss” with “Ms.” In Germany, the term “fräulein” (“little woman”) is no longer in official use. In Italy, honorifics are typically not used on official documents. And in the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec, “madame” is used for all except the very young and those who insist on “mademoiselle.”

    On state forms in France, the terms “maiden name,” “patronymic” and two expressions meaning “married name” are to be replaced by “family name” and “used name,” Mr. Fillon said in the memo. Apparently hoping to avert waste, he instructed that old forms should remain in circulation until the “exhaustion of stocks.”
    No official estimates were offered on Wednesday as to when those supplies might run out, but there were concerns among some that, given the French state’s penchant for bureaucratic paperwork, its current provision of forms might last some time.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/23/wo...ml?_r=2&src=tp

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    Elite Member BITTER's Avatar
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    Well, they stopped the magazine a few years ago, so why not?
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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Kinda hate to see this...
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member Kat Scorp's Avatar
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    Here is Australia I chose Ms whenever I can on such forms. I need to get myself a doctorate in something; I'd love to select Dr instead.
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    Elite Member OrangeSlice's Avatar
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    In a similar vein, several schools around here have done away with Mrs. and all of the teachers go by either Mr. or Ms., married or unmarried.
    "Schadenfreude, hard to spell, easy to feel." ~VenusinFauxFurs

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    Elite Member Ravenna's Avatar
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    On a purely superficial level, I love the word 'mademoiselle'. It just sounds pretty to me.
    levitt likes this.

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    Elite Member WhateverLolaWants's Avatar
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    Yeah, Mademoiselle is pretty.
    ----------------------------
    There will be times you might leap before you look
    There'll be times you'll like the cover and that's precisely why you'll love the book
    Do it anyway

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenna View Post
    On a purely superficial level, I love the word 'mademoiselle'. It just sounds pretty to me.
    This is why I hate to see it go bye-bye...
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member t13nif's Avatar
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    When i went to French school, we had a feminist teacher who refused to be called Mademoiselle or Madame. She was called Madelle, which she told us at the time was the equivalent of Ms.
    "Hope everyone' shavin a good one!" - Karistiona

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    Elite Member MontanaMama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kat Scorp View Post
    Here is Australia I chose Ms whenever I can on such forms. I need to get myself a doctorate in something; I'd love to select Dr instead.
    I think you are well on your way to your PhD in LeAnn.

    Hats off. I think I'm more of a feminist than I ever thought...but it's a whole host of seemingly non-meaningful things all taken together that allows places like Virginia to think it's perfectly ok to pass a trans-vaginal ultrasound requirement in the name of full disclosure while at the same time trying to restrict access to birth control and sex education and continuing to make sure viagra is covered by insurance. If women are head-patted in title, we can be head-patted legally and I think it's insane.
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    (Replying to MontanaMama) This is some of the smartest shit I ever read

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    Elite Member Kat Scorp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMama View Post
    I think you are well on your way to your PhD in LeAnn.

    Hats off. I think I'm more of a feminist than I ever thought...but it's a whole host of seemingly non-meaningful things all taken together that allows places like Virginia to think it's perfectly ok to pass a trans-vaginal ultrasound requirement in the name of full disclosure while at the same time trying to restrict access to birth control and sex education and continuing to make sure viagra is covered by insurance. If women are head-patted in title, we can be head-patted legally and I think it's insane.

    I remember being so pissed off about this in the 90s- had an american friend who needed the contraceptive pill for medical problem (I think it was endometritis; and she was about to lose her job because she was in so much pain) and her insurance company just didn't give a fuck. But as soon as viagra got on the market, penile flacidity became a medical problem worthy of the same insurance company's money.

    And yet during the Moevember crap a guy whined on the 7PM Project that mens' medical issues aren't being given enough money by the government due to "too much attention" on womens' health. Puh-leeze, if it something to do with their dicks, then their covered. *eyeroll*
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    I think that's pure bullshit, given the fact that if we want we can tick "madam" even if we're not married, we can tick "mademoiselle" even if we're married, these terms have no juridicial value whatsoever.
    It's just one more proof of how incompetent our feminists are here, focusing on a word when we're still paid 20% less than men, when we're still likely to not be hired when we're in our early 30s and childless, when on every fucking advert we make we feel compulsed to include a naked woman when men's bodies are always covered ... and the list goes on.

    Targetting a word which used to be charged with significance in the 12th century is simply appaling.
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    Elite Member darksithbunny's Avatar
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    I got a copy of my birth certificate recently and instead of "maiden"name for my mother, it said "name before marriage". Really? It really offends people that badly?

    So they feel the same way about mademoiselle? I always thought that sounded better than Madame.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    I always use Ms. I love it since I was a teen and found out it was from the old fallen from use term 'Mistress'.

    Then later I found out that Miss and Mrs have the same root, but I still like Ms.
    It's no longer a dog whistle, it's a fucking trombone


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    Elite Member Kat Scorp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darksithbunny View Post
    I got a copy of my birth certificate recently and instead of "maiden"name for my mother, it said "name before marriage". Really? It really offends people that badly?

    So they feel the same way about mademoiselle? I always thought that sounded better than Madame.

    My certificate from 1982 had no space for "occupation of mother". Two decades after the second wave feminist movement and birth certificates still being printed with the assumption that the mother doesn't work.

    But I think we use "nee" instead of "maiden".
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