Forget what you learned in French class about “madame” and “mademoiselle.” The French government now says women’s marital status shouldn’t matter, at least when it comes to this country’s far-reaching bureaucracy.
A new circular from the prime minister’s office Tuesday orders officials to phase out the use of “mademoiselle” on administrative documents.
Until now, a woman has been required to identify herself as a married “madame” or an unmarried “mademoiselle” on everything from tax forms to insurance claims and voting cards. France offers no neutral option like the English “Ms.”
Men don’t face this issue: Their only option is “monsieur,” married or not.
It’s all the more strange given that French young people widely shun matrimony, and more than half of French children are born to unmarried parents.
Feminist groups have been pushing for the abolition of the “mademoiselle” option for years and hailed the circular.
“Everywhere we are asked to declare our marital status. This is not imposed on men, it’s not important whether they are married,” said Julie Muret of the group Osez le Feminisme.
D - yup, double standard. I caught some hell this week for using the term "spinster". She was correct- there is no male equivalent. I suggested we adopt spinster for male and spinstress for female.
Thinking about the terms some more, in contrast to "bachelor", spinster denotes a past and present continuing state. In this regard, it resembles my proposed construction for complex verb tense forms. A term for bachelor that denotes continuity to present (was and is) would suffice. This would involve incorporating the verb form into complex noun names.
A brief term for "spousal" or married would help in honorific titles.
Madamoiselle - Etymology - Contraction of ma demoiselle (my little lady).
Spinster - Etymology - From spin + -ster, from an historical notion of unmarried women spinning thread for a living.
The word is from Old French bachelier, "knight bachelor", a young squire in training, ultimately from Latin baccalaris, a very low ranking vassal . The Old French term crossed into English around 1300, referring to one belonging to the lowest stage of knighthood. Knights bachelor were either poor vassals who could not afford to take the field under their own banner, or knights too young to support the responsibility and dignity of knights banneret. From the 14th century, the term was also used for a junior member of a guild (otherwise known as "yeomen") or university; hence, an ecclesiastic of an inferior grade, for example, a young monk or even recently appointed canon