How Shall I Address You?

A blog post for my online French class:

“Last year, the French government stopped using mademoiselle on official documents. Now, all women are referred to with madame. In the English speaking world, Ms. was created as an alternative without government action.  In your post address what you think these different approaches indicate about French and American cultures.”

Miss, Ms., and Mrs. are all titles for women to define one marital status. Miss is simply for a single, unmarried woman. Ms. is for a woman who is divorced, widowed, or perhaps doesn’t wish to disclose her marital status. And Mrs. is for a married woman. I myself have never used Miss. Even though I’ve never married, I use Ms. I am a mother and think it is only fitting to use Ms. But at what age do you start using Ms., rather than Miss?

In France women of adult age won’t have to worry about figuring that out anymore. According to BBC News, France Prime Minister Francois Fillion says, “Women will no longer be forced to describe themselves.” France has done away with calling women Mademoiselle and will begin calling all women Madame, married or not.

I remember watching one of my favorite French films, Apres Vous, where Daniel Auteuil’s character asks a woman, “Madame o Mademoiselle?” He was sent by a friend to find his friend’s ex-girlfriend. When he finds his friend’s ex-girlfriend he simply asks her, Madame or Mademoiselle to see if she has since married. Her reply is, “Mademoiselle.”

I guess it would’ve been simpler to ask if she was married, but that may be considered rude since they’ve never met before. Here in America I can assume it’s easier just to ask if the woman is married or not, instead of asking how she should be called, Ms. or Mrs.

Women’s personal titles have been used for years, not just in America, but all over the world. To me it’s a use of respect. Women this day and age are more independent. Not a lot of women are married. I’ve been on my own since I was eighteen and majority of that time I’ve been single. Maybe it’s a good thing what France is doing, allowing all women to be on an equal level instead of defining their marital status.  

2 thoughts on “How Shall I Address You?

  1. baileyboatcat

    It’s caused lots of confusion here! My mum is no longer a Mle on electricity bills etc but IS still on her bank card. Men her own age call her Mme but older men still call her Mle! It’s unfortunately not as simple as the French would like everyone to believe! =^.^=


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