Culture Magazine

Madame, Or Mademoiselle?

By Sedulia @Sedulia

Caption: It's absolutely none of our business but we still demand to know if you are a virgin, unmarried, divorced, a widow, or just a naïve young thing....

Someone sent me this article, from a website called Madame ou Madame. It's about a new campaign against the word Mademoiselle.

Mademoiselle-- One box too many

Have you ever wondered why we don't call an unmarried man "my damoiseau*" or even "young virgin"? It's not surprising, since this distinction is reserved for women....

Yes, in France in 2011, men and women are still not treated equally: one salutation for men, two for women!

Therefore Osez le féminisme [Dare to be a feminist] and the Chiennes de garde [Watchdogs] are launching a campaign called "Mademoiselle-- one box too many" to remind us that the distinction Madame/Mademoiselle is neither flattering nor obligatory. And above all, that it is a sign of the everyday sexism that persists in our society.

Mademoiselle, la case en trop !

Vous ne vous êtes jamais demandé pourquoi on n'appelait pas un homme célibataire « Mondamoiseau », voire « jeune puceau » ? Pas étonnant, ce type de distinction est réservé aux femmes…
En effet, en France, en 2011, les femmes et les hommes ne sont toujours pas logés à la même enseigne : civilité unique pour les hommes, double civilité pour les femmes !

Osez le féminisme et les Chiennes de garde lancent donc une campagne intitulée « Mademoiselle, la case en trop » pour rappeler que la distinction Madame/Mademoiselle n’est ni flatteuse, ni obligatoire. Et surtout, qu’elle est le signe du sexisme ordinaire qui perdure dans notre société.

I don't want to be sexist, but for me the word "Mademoiselle" calls up a host of pleasant memories, from the time D took out his 14-year-old daughter to a grand restaurant in Paris and the waiter called her "Madame" the entire evening (wonder what he was thinking) to this World War II cartoon by one of my heroes, Bill Mauldin:


"Are you seeking a company of infantry, mon capitaine?"


*damoiseau is the male equivalent of demoiselle (damsel).

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