by Jessica Critcher
Feminists in the French town of Cesson-Sevigne have abolished the use of the word “Mademoiselle” on official forms. Women will be addressed as Madame from now on, regardless of age or marital status. This is nothing new to American, Canadian and British women, many of whom opt to be called Ms. instead of Miss or Mrs.
The idea is that women do not want to be defined by their marital status, a freedom which men have always enjoyed and sometimes take for granted. While this might seem like a minor change, it is actually an important step toward dismantling institutionalized sexism.
As the Los Angeles Times points out:
Before the French Revolution, the use of “Mademoiselle” had little to do with whether a woman was married; a laywoman or commoner was always called “Mademoiselle” to indicate she was of lowly status. Only women of high birth were addressed as “Madame.” “Damoiseau,” meaning “squire” and serving as the male equivalent of “Mademoiselle,” was dumped in France decades ago.
This speaks volumes to the idea that women are treated as second class citizens. Arbitrary differences such as this, based on nothing but gender, constitute discrimination. Identifying women based on their marital status or age when men are identified by neither is just one piece of the massive gender double standard. Read more