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Cesson-Sévigné, a suburb of Rennes, France, has banned the use of the title “mademoiselle” on all official forms starting January 1, 2012. Two feminist groups in France, Osez la Féminisme (Dare Feminism) and Les Chiennes de Garde (Guard Dogs) had been campaigning to remove the title from state and company forms for some time.
Deriving from the word for “damsel” or “little lady,” mademoiselle is the French equivalent of “Miss.” But according to these groups, the title is “sexist and condescending,” as it differentiates unmarried women from those married, while there’s just one all-encompassing title for men: “Monsieur,” or “Mr.” Only fueling the fury, mademoiselle originates from “virgin,” which carries a whole set of connotations apart from being merely sexist. It renders women as young, naive, and perhaps not as serious as their madame counterparts when in the workplace or in other formal situations.
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