Entries in Feminism (2)


Au Revoir 'Mademoiselle': French Forms Get a Makeover

Hemera/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Farewell to lovesick maidens and damsels in distress. Farewell to discrimination and sexism -- well, at least on French forms.

French Prime Minister François Fillon ordered this week that the term “mademoiselle” be removed from all official forms and registries after months of campaigning by two feminist organizations, Osez le Féminisme (Dare To Be Feminist) and Les Chiennes de Garde (The Watchdogs).

The decision marks a great victory for French feminists who say the use of “mademoiselle” is demeaning to women, insisting that their marital status need not be known every time they sign a form. Men in France are referred to as “monsieur” regardless of marital status.

“Have you ever wondered why we do not call a single man ‘Mondamoiseau’ or ‘young virgin?’ Not surprisingly, this type of distinction is reserved for women,” the campaign wrote on their joint website. “This campaign was intended to end this inequality, but also to inform women of their rights.”

According to the New York Times, Fillon wrote that the use of “mademoiselle” made reference “without justification nor necessity” to a woman’s “matrimonial situation,” whereas “monsieur” has long signified simply “sir.”

Women must indicate their marital status on almost every form in France, by choosing “madame” or “mademoiselle” -- including when opening a bank account, paying taxes, shopping online and even ordering groceries.

With this battle won, the feminist groups are now encouraging private organizations to also remove “mademoiselle” from their forms.

Feminist groups fought a similar battle in the United States and won, said Kathy Spillar, the executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and executive editor of Ms. Magazine.

“Women want to be known for who they are, not for their marital status,” Spillar said. “They should be recognized as their own person, not just the property of a man, whether that’s her father or her husband.”

While the term “miss,” which is comparable to the French “mademoiselle,” was never officially banned from U.S. documents, “Ms.” was added, giving women the choice whether or not to indicate their marital status.

Spillar said the founders of Ms. Magazine -- including noted feminist Gloria Steinem -- decided to take the name “Ms.” because “it was a very poignant statement about this movement … It really says it all in two little letters.”

In regards to France’s decision to take “mademoiselle” off of official documents, Spillar says it’s a significant step for feminists worldwide.

“Some may say it’s petty but words matter. How you address people matters,” Spillar said. “French society will see how much it matters when you are no longer having to use terms that are really, quite frankly, antiquated.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Will Kate Middleton 'Obey' Prince William?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- To obey or not to obey; that is the question. When Prince William and Kate Middleton ascend the alter next month and vow "to love and to cherish till death us do part," will they follow in the traditional steps of the royal family or instead continue with their theme of a more modern wedding?

The royals are members of the Church of England and Kate must decide if she is going to say the traditional vows written by the church's Anglican Book of Common Prayer dating back to 1662, or instead use a modernized version from the Common Worship book introduced in 2000.

In the traditional vows, the groom promises "to love and cherish till death do us part" and the bride promises to "love, cherish and obey." In the modern vows, however, the word "obey" is excluded:

"I, (bride/groom name), take you, (groom/bride name) to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part."

Most of the brides in the royal family have used the traditional vows, including Queen Elizabeth in 1947 and Princess Anne in 1973. Princess Diana was the only bride to not say "obey," in 1981. And while she was saying them, she even got caught up in her words and switched around Prince Charles' name to Philip Charles Arthur George instead of Charles Philip Arthur George.

Princess Diana did not set a trend, however, because both Sarah Ferguson, in 1986, and Princess Sophie, in 1999, went back to saying the traditional wedding vows by the church by promising to "obey" their groom.

If Kate wants to throw out both of these options and write her own vows, well, that is out of the question. The Church of England forbids couples from using any vows other than those written by the church.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio