There will be no more Misses or near-Misses in the French town of Cesson-Sevigne, population 1600. As a gesture towards sexual equality, the town has banished the term “mademoiselle” for women on its official forms. All women will be addressed from here on out as “madame.” Mademoiselle traditionally refers to young or unmarried women. The title “damoiseau,” meaning “squire,” was used similarly for men, but fell into disuse in France decades ago. So because there is no longer a similar distinction among men, it’s now looked upon as sexist, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Germany ditched the use of the word “fraulein” for a young unmarried woman in 1972 and America has either added to or further cluttered the field - however you look at it, by adding “Ms.,” to “Miss,” and “Mrs.,” where men, as in France have only one title, which is nice, simple and doesn’t announce things about their personal life –intrusiveness being another claim leveled at “mademoiselle” by French feminist groups. Another problem with the French “Miss” missive is that since there’s no exact age cut-off at which one becomes a “madame,” married or not, it can be difficult for the person doing the addressing. A waiter addressing an older woman as “mademoiselle,” could be considered “gallant or sarcastic.”
“The town’s decision comes months after the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal cast a spotlight on sexism in France,” the Times says.