Something is missing from the French administrative landscape.

On February 22nd, the term Miss – « Mademoiselle » in French, was officially removed from all administrative forms .– Tax, health, social security – all those spheres where lenghty and massive form filling is required, the term « Mademoiselle » has been zapped in the interests of equality. Now, all ladies, of any age, married or single, will all be referred to as « Madame. »

media_xl_4385676

It all started back in November 2011, when feminist organisations launched a national campaign to remove « mademoiselle » from all administrative forms. The argument was the following – men, married or single, are always referred to as Mr or « monsieur » - nowhere on forms does it indicate whether men are married or not, YET, ladies have to choose between « madame » or « mademoiselle », and if they are married, they must give their maiden name . The « anti-miss » lobby didn’t say that this was sexist, simply it was not equal.

The French Republican Trinity includes the term « equality » (égalité) – there was nothing vaguely egalitarian about ladies having married and unmarried « labels » when men didn’t.

For sure, at some stage on all forms, you have to declare your « marital status » - single, divorced, widow seperated etc, but – as the feminisits argued – why should women have the extra « miss » label ?

It all seems very trivial, but the feminist lobby was supported by the Goverment’s « Minister for Solidarity » - Roselyne Bachelot. She qualified the term « mademoiselle » as « intrusive ».

So, yesterday (February 22nd), the government) the French prime minister Fançois Fillon, let it be known, that the erm « mademoiselle » will be bannished forever from the nation’s administrative forms.

affiche-Mme-Mlle-DEF

It is not yet unlawful to refer to single ladies as Mademoiselle. There are some young, single ladies, who have nothing against the term.

Historically, the term « mademoiselle » was for those young, ladies who had not yet given their maidenhead. « Ma Demoiselle » - literally meaning « maid » or « maiden ». Historically, in French there has never been such a term for boys. In English i twas common to call young boys « master » before they became mister. When I statred secondary school, our English teacher referred to us as « master ».

I can’t help thinking that all these terms are more than a little médiéval. « Mademoiselle » has more than a passing ressemblance to « Damsel » Perhaps it is time for them to disappear, but not for reasons of equality. It seems over politically correct to bannish « mademoiselle » on such grounds. Why not just cease to use it for the good old reason that it is old fashioned.

In Britain the Miss and Mrs dilemma was resolved in a different was by using the term « Ms » (mizz). Perhaps the same solution should have been used in France.

There was of course a third solition to this « false » problem. Give French men the possibility to use the archaic masculine équivalent to « mademoiselle », which is « mondemoiseau. »

Observers, critics and humourists have been pondering this « miss »adventure. All are unanimous in the question, what will happen when we come to choose our next Miss France ? Will she be a Miss or a Madame ? I daresay we will still call her Miss, as there is no hint of « mademoiselle ».

Missing out on the Miss, comes during the middle of a Presidential élection campagn. In a move that in British terms, might have been associated with the « looney left », the official decree to drop Mademoiselle is coming from a Sarkozy government, in a week where Sarkozy has been criticised for veering too far to the Right, perhaps this marks the start of a left turn.