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Council bans use of ‘mademoiselle’

A council in the Ile-de-France is to stop using the term, which it says is outdated and causes gender inequality

A COMMUNIST mairie in the Val-de-Marne has decided to scrap the word mademoiselle.

Fontenay-sous-Bois is going to call all its adult women residents madame and it is also jettisoning the practice of asking women for their nom de jeune fille (maiden name) on forms.

The decision is part of a local plan on equality between men and women.

The deputy mayor for women’s rights and equality, Nora Saint-Gal, said: “It is a symbolic matter, but it allows us to put our finger on hang-overs from the past that cause little invisible discriminations. One can ask whether someone is married or celibate without using the term demoiselle (damsel or maiden); or otherwise we could also use damoiseau (the male equivalent, meaning a page, knight’s squire or young man).

The mademoiselle debate has been rumbling on for some time in France, with feminist groups voicing opposition to it. Most recently Solidarity Minister Roselyne Bachelot called for the term, and the maiden name boxes, to be removed from official forms, saying they were an “intrusion into women’s private life”.

Photo: Yuri Arcurs -

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