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. »
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.
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.