'Mademoiselle' Banned in French Town
Now it's 'madame,' whether married or not
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 16, 2012 12:50 PM CST
In one French town, all women will now be called 'madame.'   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – There's no equivalent of "Ms." in French—and in one French town, there's no "Miss" anymore, either. The village of 16,500 is banning the use of the title "mademoiselle," long subject to controversy, on official forms; now, all women in Cesson-Sevigne will be called "madame" regardless of their marital status or age, the Los Angeles Times reports. "It's about eliminating all terms that could be discriminatory or indiscreet," said a town hall statement.

Men have only one honorific—"monsieur"—and the town's statement noted this, explaining that the dual terms are "a discrimination for women because there is no differentiation that exists for men." Many critics saw "mademoiselle," an indicator that a woman is unmarried, as sexist. It could also lead to awkward situations: After a certain, undefined age, women are typically called "madame" regardless of their marital status. That led some older ladies to wonder whether, when a stranger called them "mademoiselle," the speaker was being genuine or sarcastic, the Times notes. Click for more on the debate.