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BBC World Service

In France, saying adieu to ‘Mademoiselle’ on forms

Hugh Schofield Feb 22, 2012

Adriene Hill: The word “Mademoiselle” seems as French as the Eiffel Tower. But from now on, it will be banned from official government forms. French women’s groups are claiming victory. Up until now, French women were forced to declare their marital status as either “Mademoiselle” or “Madame” every time they filled out a tax form.

The BBC’s Hugh Schofield reports from France.

Hugh Schofield: It’s been around since the middle ages, denoting a young unmarried lady. French women’s organizations have been campaigning against it for years. They say it’s unfair for there to be in the state’s eyes two categories of woman — and only one of men, “monsieur.”

Not all French women agree, it has to be said. Many quite like the old-fashioned courtesy that comes with Mademoiselle. Emilie Dufour is a young French woman living in Boudour. She doesn’t agree with the change, she’s happy to be called Mademoiselle.

Emilie Dufour: I think it’s great for women who want to feel young, so I would remain with Mademoiselle if I had the choice.

The French language has middle ground, like the English “Ms.” that doesn’t imply married or unmarried. And the French government has now agreed with women’s advocacy groups, so from now on, in government forms at least, all French women are “Madame.”

I’m the BBC’s Hugh Schofield, for Marketplace.

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