If it’s Friday, it must be France
Bonjour! Before we talk France I want to let you know I’m at the energizing hive of activity, Girlfriendology.com, today. We’re continuing the blogtalk about … what else (?!?) … women, connections and inspiring girls. If you’re taking a break around 1:30 EST, Debba and I would love to have you join us on her blogtalk radio. Just click on this link to take you there.
And now back to France to see what was going on there this week.
Did you know the word “mademoiselle” (the French equivalent of “miss”) will now be removed from all government forms? (The New York Times had reported the word was now “banned”, which is not quite accurate.) Two powerful French feminist groups have mounted a strong advocacy campaign for some time for this move and someone has finally listened.
The issue is that “mademoiselle” clearly denotes the marital status of a woman, as opposed to “madame”, but men are always referred to as “monsieur” whether single or married. Women are either mademoiselles or madames for official and business purposes depending on their marital situation.
This distinction no longer exists in a number of Western countries. Germany banned the word Fraulein from official use in 1972. For many decades English-speaking countries have offered women the option of the neutral Ms, although Miss does still appear in many instances. No such alternative was offered in France, quite possibly because many young French people widely shun marriage these days and simply don’t consider it an issue.
A little history – mademoiselle comes from demoiselle, which used to be a title of nobility in pre-revolutionary France. The link to marital status occurred during the Napoleonic era.
In another good step, France has given final approval to legislation requiring corporations to reserve at least 40% of the board positions for women. Read more here.
For all of the celebrating and recognition of the great strides towards equality achieved by women through the past 101 years since the first IWD, there is still a long way to go. This article from the Guardian gives an overview of struggles around the world, including La Belle France, faced by women today.
Here’s a thought for today that fits right in. Can you translate? If not, tune in next Friday. Bon weekend, tout le monde!
Tameri Etherton says
Arrgh! I can translate part of the quote, but not all. I know I could look up the words, but I want to wait until next Friday to see if I was anywhere near close…
Yesterday for IWD, I celebrated you! I also made it a goal to spend some time in the next week finding local organizations where I can make a difference. Just donating money isn’t enough sometimes.
You know, I don’t think I ever thought about the Miss vs Mrs. debate. That is so interesting to learn. Now I’m quite intrigued.
I’m setting an alarm for 10:30 my time so I can tune in. I’ve never done a radio blog thingy on my computer, so we’ll see how this goes.
Marion Spicher says
Thanks for another glimpse in the history of France.
Barbara Conelli says
Patricia, thank you for this post, I love it. Oh, the quote is so wise and beautiful. (I’m not going to say what it means here because I don’t want to spoil the surprise 🙂 ) It’s funny because many of my French friends love being called mademoiselle as they’re proud of being single, and being called “madame” makes them feel old 🙂
Happy belated International Women’s Day, my friend! What a great opportunity to celebrate ourselves and the extraordinary women in our life!
Patricia Sands says
And you, Barb, are one of them!
I can translate a few words but not enough to read the whole quote. 🙁 I’ll wait til Friday. Sorry I’m late. To celebrate IWD, I carried on my women-focused blog posts beginning a series on a midlife. Like you, I’m all about strong, smart women. I should repost my blog, No Such thing As Too Many Girlfriends, because I truly believe that. I am revelling in the love and support of those in our group and haven’t felt so good about belonging to a group in a very long time!
Interesting that France is a little behind the times on the Miss and Mrs. thing. I would have thought the opposite. They are on the cutting edge when it comes to art and fashion, right? Can’t have it all i suppose! lol
Patricia Sands says
Marcia, you are a blogger that celebrates women every day. No question about that! There can never be too many girlfriends, that’s the truth, and our WANA group is such a good example of the fine connections women can make. Lucky us!
Love that quote!