The term “mademoiselle” is about to disappear from French paperwork.
Under pressure from campaigners, the government has decided that women will not have to choose how to describe themselves on official documents.
Unlike men, women have been forced to choose between a married “madame” or unmarried “mademoiselle”.
Feminist groups welcomed the move from Prime Minister Francois Fillon, but noted that in an election year they want to ensure it is applied.
“Everywhere we are asked to declare our marital status. This is not imposed on men, it’s not important whether they are married,” said Julie Muret of the group, Osez le Feminisme.
Her group also wants candidates for the presidential elections in April to support other pledges reducing the pay gap between men and women, supporting the right to abortion and birth control, and limiting sexist advertising.
And a straitjacket on Dominique Strauss-Kahn too, s’il vous plaît.
And in case you’re wondering, here’s how things stand with us Germans. It’s not illegal to say Fräulein — YET — but it IS out of date:
Fräulein, which can be translated as Miss is an outdated form of addressing an unmarried woman. Fräulein is a derivation of Frau – the suffix –lein is a diminutive similar to “chen”.
In daily life, Fräulein is perceived as old fashioned and discriminating and should especially not be used in a professional work environment. Today’s form of addressing is Frau, which corresponds to Ms. In cafes and restaurants one can hear the occasional Fräulein for addressing waitresses, especially in traditional and old fashioned establishments. A better form is the simple “Hallo” to get the attention of the female waiting personnel.
The modern German word Frau stems from the old German (12th century) frouwe which was the female equivalent to the male frauja/friega. The male form has not survived in German language and has been replaced with Herr (Mr.). The actual meaning of the male frauja/friega is “The First” or “The Foremost”, and this form of addressing was originally used for gentry in the Middle Ages.
Fräulein was used until the 18th/19th century amongst the nobility for young unmarried women. From the nobility it expanded into the language of the upper bourgeois and later became a commonly used word.
So it would appear that a woman’s marital status is becoming less and less relevant all the time, at least in Europe. And it’s a good thing, too. As a certain Ms. Piggy would say, “One need not be married in order to have status.”
Merci les féministes, und vielen Dank von Frau Becker.