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French 'sexism' you can't miss
Thread poster: A Hayes
A Hayes
Australia
Local time: 09:07
Apr 13, 2006

French 'sexism' you can't miss
Adam Sage, Paris
April 13, 2006

MONSIEUR, madame ou mademoiselle? This is the first question on all official forms in France, but it has been denounced by leading feminists in the country as a flagrant example of sex discrimination.

They want the French Government to remove the title Mademoiselle (Miss) from administrative documents because it forces women to divulge their marital status, where men reveal only their gender.

Les Chiennes de Garde (The Guard Dogs), the biggest feminist group in France, have launched a petition demanding the withdrawal of a word that they say "perpetuates the submission to macho values". They do not advocate an equivalent of the English "Ms" but a straight choice between Monsieur and Madame.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,18801405-29677,00.html

*******************************************
As far as I know, the same applies to Spanish, i.e. 'Señor, señora o señorita' (or Dr, etc.) is the first question on all official forms. Not sure about it ever being denounced as an example of sex discrimination, though.

From a 21st Century perspective, it seems so unfair that there should be different title options based on sex... I just can't imagine what I'd do without 'Ms'. It's one of those things you just take for granted. What do others think?

[Edited at 2006-04-13 08:16]


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PB Trans

Local time: 23:07
French to English
+ ...
Quebec Apr 13, 2006

In Quebec, "Mlle" is pretty much eradicated as a form of address, especially in business. If you're old enough to bear children, you're "Mme". I remember being called "Madame" by an employee at a clothing store when I was a teenager (oh so many moons ago)!

In the 1970s, the term "Madelle" was introduced as a translation to "Ms" but that didn't quite take off!


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sylvie malich
Germany
Local time: 00:07
German to English
Germany Apr 13, 2006

Here "Fräulein" was eliminated years ago for the same reason for women of child-bearing age.
Why should we care if a woman is married or not?

(Hey, let's turn it around and demand everybody reveal their marital status: Herrlein sounds about right!)

sylvie

[Edited at 2006-04-13 08:49]


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xxxIanW
Local time: 00:07
German to English
+ ...
Ms. Apr 13, 2006

In English - at least in Ireland and the UK - the term "Ms." is readily used rather than "Miss" and "Mrs.", and I think this is an excellent development. As Sylvie said, the same move has been made in Germany and I don't see why it shouldn't have the same effect in France.

And it certainly gives a new meaning to the term "receding Herrlein "

Ian Winick


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xxxNicolette Ri
Local time: 00:07
French to Dutch
+ ...
In the Netherlands too Apr 13, 2006

Already in 1982-1984, when I worked in a Government office, regulations forbid us to speak about "Mej.". Every woman was "Mevr", even teenagers. And now, when I have to translate forms with "M.", "Mme" et "Melle" French clients always come back saying that there's something missing. (or they look it up in a dictionary!!)

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JackieMcC
Local time: 00:07
French to English
yes, this is one of my pet hates Apr 13, 2006

Yes this is something that annoys me so much !!!

I have been living in France for almost 20 years now. Just last week I met someone at a fairly formal event who started the conversation with "Bonjour, Mademoiselle ..... Madame ....?" followed by a pause so I could fill them in with my personal details ... as usual this got me seething, why are women immediately expected to label themselves as married/single in France when men aren't ?!

The solution I have hit on is to introduce myself by my first name without any title, which surprises some people as the French are much more reluctant to use first name terms than the British, for example.

I use the title Ms in English - and when I'm translating forms and such like from French into English I always try to add an extra box for Ms and add a note to explain to my French client why this third alternative exists - hopefully doing my little bit to gradually change things in France

Jackie


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
agree:-) Apr 13, 2006

Alejandra Hayes wrote:


As far as I know, the same applies to Spanish, i.e. 'Señor, señora o señorita' (or Dr, etc.) is the first question on all official forms. Not sure about it ever being denounced as an example of sex discrimination, though.

From a 21st Century perspective, it seems so unfair that there should be different title options based on sex... I just can't imagine what I'd do without 'Ms'. It's one of those things you just take for granted. What do others think?

[Edited at 2006-04-13 08:16]


In Spanish, the use of Señorita vs Señora seems to be more about age than about marital status, as beyond a certain age, all women are called señora...another angle on discrimination!

Ms in English has been a great advance, I agree

...what's more, irrespective of traditional attitudes to marital status, relationships are so fluid and varied nowadays that it seems very anachronistic to have titles other than those that identify one as simply male or female.


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 00:07
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
A Spanish exception Apr 13, 2006

There is, actually, one exception to Lia's rule that the use of Señora o Señorita depends on age in Spain, and that's school teachers.

A school teacher can be married, in her sixties ahd have half a dozen children, and she will still be addressed as "Señorita" by pupils.

Andy


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xxxIanW
Local time: 00:07
German to English
+ ...
Miss! Miss! Oh, me Miss! Apr 13, 2006

Come to mention it, that was the same at school in Ireland - at least I can't remember any female teacher being referred to as "Mrs." rather than "Miss"


Andy Watkinson wrote:

There is, actually, one exception to Lia's rule that the use of Señora o Señorita depends on age in Spain, and that's school teachers.

A school teacher can be married, in her sixties ahd have half a dozen children, and she will still be addressed as "Señorita" by pupils.

Andy


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xxxEmmanuelleAn  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:07
English to French
+ ...
Hello Apr 13, 2006

I don't take the "mademoiselle" as a sexist remark. Personally I'd rather be called as such because whenever someone says "madame" to me, it makes me feel as if I was in my forties. I'd say that most women in their mid/end-twenties do not like being called "Madam". It's not sexist at all, just the age thing

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A Hayes
Australia
Local time: 09:07
TOPIC STARTER
Madelle / Herrlein Apr 13, 2006

Pina Nunes wrote:

In Quebec, "Mlle" is pretty much eradicated as a form of address, especially in business. If you're old enough to bear children, you're "Mme". I remember being called "Madame" by an employee at a clothing store when I was a teenager (oh so many moons ago)!

In the 1970s, the term "Madelle" was introduced as a translation to "Ms" but that didn't quite take off!



Thanks, Pina, I didn't know this. Was 'Madelle' also introduced in France, or just in Quebec?

It's so interesting to see how the Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss issue is dealt with in other languages. After all, the language we use is a reflection of our society and its values.

As for the use of the titles 'Señora' and 'Señorita', I think this may actually vary from country to country -- or even region to region.

Btw, I'd love to know what Herrlein means -


[Edited at 2006-04-13 12:24]


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xxxIanW
Local time: 00:07
German to English
+ ...
Herrlein Apr 13, 2006

Fräulein literally means "little woman" (and who could object to that!?!). "Lein" and "chen" are the German diminutives equivalent to "ito"/"ita" in Spanish (I believe). And
"Herrlein" is the masculine form of "Fräulein". It's quite archaic and would only be used humorously.

[Edited at 2006-04-13 12:33]


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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:07
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Egalia's Daughters Apr 13, 2006

"Herrlein" is the masculine form of "Fräulein". It's quite archaic and would only be used humorously.


Haha, this makes me think of "Herrlein Uglemose" (his German name) in Egalia's Daughters:

Lisello Owlmoss is the teacher in a high school in Egalsund. In one class, he declares that biologically speaking the wom is weaker than the menwom. If the book is a total reversal, women are supposed to be stronger than men.


In case you don't know the book yet, here's some more information. It's fun to read as it makes you aware of all the little sexisms in our languages that we usually don't notice any longer.

Imagine a world where wim (women) rule the business and the political aspects of society, and their menwim (men) stay at home and take care of the household, the children, and make themselves look pretty by curling their beards. In this world the menwim are the ones responsible for raising children after the wim give birth to them. After all, it is the menwim who beget children. In Gerd Brantenberg's book, Egalia's Daughter's, the menwim and children take on the wim's last name, but the wim after giving birth are free to do as they please, and even receive a bonus for giving birth. If a wom wanted, she could claim the child is not hers, or deny the manwom fatherhood protection, and the mafele (male) would be held responsible by law for bringing up the bastard child. If the menwim of this society do not like the arrangement, well then that's too bad because the rules are made to benefit only the wim and serve to keep the menwim in their place (at home) where they belong.

Does this world seem laughable? Ridiculous, perhaps? Well, in Egalia's Daughters this is how the world works. The wim have the power and the menwim are only housebounds needing fatherhood protection to survive since they cannot make enough money on their own. In this society the menwim, like the women of our world, are not equal because they have no say concerning their assigned roles, or their own bodies.

In Egaila's Daughters we meet Petronius a young manwom growing up and understanding that his fate is dubious in a world that does not respect him as a person. In this novel, menwim are inferior to wim because that's just the way of nature. Menwim cannot give birth because they do not have a vagina and a uterus. Therefore it is justified to treat the menwim as less than wim. In this society the wim have all the say.

Petronius wants to be a seawom (a diver), but unfortunately for him he cannot be one. He does not have the right equipment. Being a seawom is a wom's job, and Petronius shouldn't worry his pretty head so with ardous work. Instead he should be excited about his new peho (a device worn on the penis, much like a jockstrap),the male equivalent to a bra. Petronius' mother Ba, the director of the family, condescends to poor Petronius that he cannot raise children on a ship.


Quoted from http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/Fall05/escoto/Egalia's%20Daughters.html


The chaos of identification in Egalia’s Daughters is not simply a reversal of the two sexes. Brantenberg wittily deconstructs the linguistic usage and makes it evident that language is not neutral at all. It’s often gender inclusive and representative of a certain ideology and power politics. The same observation has been made by psychology and sociology; languages are known to have power in shaping people’s mind and ideas. For instance, jobs written with male labels are more likely to be open only to male applicants while gender-neutral job titles are equally open to either male or female applicants. In Egalia’s Daughters, Gerd Brantenberg makes full use of this linguistic finding to prove that a certain ideology is inscribed on people even before they know it. For example, when we refer to anything associated with men, usually the term is the infix while a certain prefix has to be added on the infix when the term is associated with women. Linguists argue that this convention of adding feminine prefixes proves a male egoistic identification and places women as subalterns. Below is a simple comparison5:

manwom, menwim= man, men

wom,wim= woman, women

mafele=male

fele=female

gentlewim=ladies

lordies=gentlemen

Lady God=God/Father

Mother God in heaven=Our Father in heaven

maidmanhood=maidenhood


Quoted from http://sex.ncu.edu.tw/course/romanticlove/assignment/david_english.htm


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:07
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
In Italy is abolished Apr 13, 2006

Signorina (Miss) was abolished many years ago (early 70s if I am not wrong), only Signora (Mrs) is used now, and also we do not use our husband's surname but our maiden name forever.

Bye bye

Angio

[Edited at 2006-04-13 14:27]


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A Hayes
Australia
Local time: 09:07
TOPIC STARTER
I take my hat off to you. Apr 13, 2006

angioletta garbarino wrote:

... and also we do not use our husband's surname but our maiden name forever.



[Edited at 2006-04-13 14:27]


I've always found it hard to understand why so many women choose to use their husband's surname... it's a mystery to me

[Edited at 2006-04-13 14:39]


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