Following news this week that the term ‘Mademoiselle’ is to be banned in Cesson-Sevigne – a town in Western France – Talent Management were interested to hear suggestions that many who would be known as ‘Madame’ under the new bill would in fact prefer to keep the title ‘Mademoiselle’ after all. Rather than finding it to be sexist, some French women – such as 68 year old iconic French actress Catherine Denevue – are very happy with it. Denevue has reportedly requested, and been granted, immunity to the ban for this reason.
She is not alone. In an article published in the Huffington Post on Monday, CEO & Founder of ILDK Media, Mona Elyafi expressed her own affection for the term: “Most French women I know don’t find ‘Mademoiselle’ offensive or sexist in the least. And I, as a forty-year old French woman share their position in thinking that ‘Madame’ sounds old and expired. As a matter of fact, now every time I go back to France for a visit, I spend half of my time amusingly correcting the ‘Madame’ name-callers begging them to kindly re-adjust my title to ‘Mademoiselle’, which makes me feel like Spanish actress Ines Sastre in the French TV commercial for Krys glasses.”
In response to those who are calling this move ‘political correctness gone mad’, feminist groups such as ‘Osez Le Feminisme’ (Dare to be Feminist) and ‘Les Chiennes de Garde’ (Female Guard Dogs) – who supported the ban – may site the fact that the male equivalent of Madamoiselle, ‘damoiseau’, was dropped years ago. But Elyafi disagrees with the notion that in referring to every woman as ‘Madame’ equality can be achieved: “This is just my personal opinion. But speaking of equality, where do lesbians fall within the spectrum? With same-sex marriage not legally accepted in France, how do you properly address gay women whether under the PAX Civil partnership, in a relationship and/or single?
“Taken with the context of the official title referring to the marital status of a woman, ‘Madame’ is then discriminating against the lesbian community. We can argue back and forth on the issue. But to me, the bottom line is that the decision should ultimately belong to each woman individually, and not be legally imposed.”
À bon entendeur, salut!