Where have all the French mademoiselles gone … ?

When I first came to France I was addressed as Mademoiselle. I was oh so happy about this. It meant, to me, that although I was a married woman and therefore a Madame that I still looked like an unmarried girl – a Mademoiselle. Alas, from now on a woman, no matter her age (or […]

Chanel's Mademoiselle perfume

When I first came to France I was addressed as Mademoiselle. I was oh so happy about this. It meant, to me, that although I was a married woman and therefore a Madame that I still looked like an unmarried girl – a Mademoiselle.

Alas, from now on a woman, no matter her age (or how old or young she looks) will have to be addressed as Madame in France. This is by official decree. Prime Minister François Fillon in a memo to all state administrators made sure that they understood that the honorific Mademoiselle – miss – was sexist because it made reference to a woman’s matrimonial situation whereas a man was Monsieur whether he was married or not.

A woman in France actually never loses her maiden name. Therefore when Anne Vaude (for example) married Pierre Ruffine, she became Anne Vaude épouse Ruffine. And she was addressed as Madame, and on all official documents – a bank account, passport, voters’ role and so on – the box beside Madame was ticked.

What I now wonder is whether the late Coco Chanel will still be spoken of here in France as Mademoiselle Chanel?

And also, will that delightful song of the First World War, Mademoiselle from Armentières still be sung, the young lady still being addressed as Mademoiselle? It goes:

Mademoiselle from Armentières, Parley-voo?
Mademoiselle from Armentières, Parley-voo?
Mademoiselle from Armentières,
She hasn’t been kissed in forty years,
Hinky, dinky, parley-voo.

I suppose that what it is all about is that France fell in line with the Anglo-Saxon world where Miss and Mrs have been obsolete for years and a woman is now an Ms.

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

2 Responses to “Where have all the French mademoiselles gone … ?”

  1. 2
    Christopher Says:

    Good post.

  2. 1
    Susie Says:

    Political correctness tightens its grip. So does that mean I must now address 4-year old Mathilde as “Madame”? What a sad world we live in when so much importance is given to an inoffensive word. 🙁

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