17 thoughts on “Au Revoir, Mademoiselle

  1. Yes, I know it’s very American of me to say this, but the idea of banning any word always strikes me as odd. Banning, after all?
    (Heh, for a moment, I thought Andreas was defining ‘maladies.’ Hoot!)

  2. It’s not really a ban on the use of the term, it’s a removal of the term from official forms and such. Typically people in France tick a box next to M, Mme, or Mlle on such forms, in order to indicate the preferred manner of address (it can do double duty to indicate sex or, to a much lesser extent, marital status, but a woman could check either Mme or Mlle regardless of her marital status).

    Of course profbigk is on to something there though. This ordinance, albeit to a very small degree, appears paradoxically to give women less freedom rather than more. Interesting, though not surprising, that even this nominally feminist initiative adopts the modes of a characteristically French state paternalism.

  3. One of my pet peeves is that way back when feminists in the US didn’t dump “Miss” and insist on “Mrs” for all women instead of introducting “Ms” After decades “Ms” is still ideologically loaded: when I get attacked in print (and e-print) as a silly, cranky, man-hating feminist I’m invariably referred to as “Ms. Baber” while males are just “Smith” or whatever, without a title. What vexes me even more is that “Ms” has now taking the place of “Miss”: most forms have me choose between “Mrs” and “Ms”; some, even worse, between “Mrs”, “Ms” and “Miss.” The idea is that there are regular, normal married women who go by “Mrs,” then there are unmarried women and possibly a few hairy, Birkenstock-wearing married women who go by “Ms”, and beyond that a very few elderly spinsters and girls under 12 who like being called “Miss”. What a good reason to get a doctorate! Anyone who calls me “Ms” gets their teeth knocked out.

  4. My husband really likes being married to me (yay!) And he has complained there is no pronoun to indicate his marital status. It was Mr. before and it’s Mr. (or Dr.) now. I on the other hand don’t like to use Mrs but I do prefer it to Ms (like Harriet, I hate it) and put Dr whenever I can. The worst thing perhaps is that our daughter has my husband’s surname, even though we would both have liked her to have both our names (but apparently, in that part of Europe where we live, it’s not a possibility except under a very lengthy and expensive name-changing procedure). The child has the father’s name unless the father is unknown, refuses to formally ‘recognize’ the child or has rescinded all parental rights.

  5. Dumping Miss and advocating for Mrs instead of Ms might have been a more winning strategy. As things stand now, when I get called Mrs by students or individuals who don’t know me, such as people on the phone, in the drs office, etc. (something that happens pretty much every time) I get very annoyed. Really? It’s 2012 and we’re still assuming that women of a certain age must be married? If we were all the same damn thing then it wouldn’t matter. I think that’s what people were trying to achieve with Ms, but it just didn’t catch on sufficiently.

  6. I am puzzled at justanotherfemalephilopher saying that Ms didn’t catch on sufficiently. Here in the U.S. it’s on almost every form I’ve encountered, even just casual credit card apps, and according to Emily Post it is the default form of address in the workplace. I’m under the impression that it’s completely caught on. Might you be outside the U.S.? Would you mind sharing in which country it hasn’t caught on (U.K.?)?

  7. Profbigk, I’m in the U.S. too. It’s true that it’s on all the forms and used for business address (i.e., “Dear Ms. X:” is standard). Where it’s lacking is outside of those contexts. As I said, if my students fail to call me “Professor” or “Dr.” (as they should) they are equally likely to say “Mrs.” as “Ms.” — I’d even venture to say they are more likely to say “Mrs.” (I see this as the students having failed to fully transition from high school). And when I am a customer of a business, I am almost always addressed as “Mrs.”, whether that is on the phone or in person.

  8. I am not married, and am fed up of finding I can choose only between Mrs and Ms. I’m neither, I’m Miss (and neither elderly nor under 12). This irritated me hugely, until it occurred to me to tick Mr. That showed ’em, huh? :) (waves puny fist at moloch of mass moronity) (and realises that this another good reason for finishing that thesis)

  9. berenike, I am still trying to figure out your blog. It may be the straight (??) foward engagement with some form of quite ancient Christianity, but it seems much more interesting and layered than that.

  10. Anne, I find Berenike’s blog fascinating too. But why “some form of quite ancient Christianity” instead of just “Catholicism”?

  11. Nemo, I don’t quite remember. I think I was thinking about the various things “laodicea,” which looks like its title, might mean. And there’s also the fact that the url is exlaodicea.

    That term figures in and out of a lot of Church history., and at least one of the towns of that name antedate Jesus. One of the most striking things is that it was at the Synod of Laodicea in the 4th century that certain “canons” were declared. From them we have important parts of canon law in the church. I think it is #11 that looks like it forbids women to hold “presidencies” in the church. The interpretation of it is far from clear, but one interesting fact that it doesn’t seem to be based on anything like current teaching; rather, it was thought the women got way too uppity, acccording to one interpretation.

    The name also refers to a current sect or group, I think, who believe the end is near.

  12. If I leave this longer, will the speculation get wilder? :D Fraid it’s just a virtual pub table for three plain vanilla Catholics prevented from meeting often at a real pub table by the inconvenient fact of our living in four countries, and there ain’t no hidden meanings to anything on it! Flattered that anyone came to look – have a cup of tea in intention, with cake :) Or a pint and dry roasted peanuts, as you prefer :)

  13. berenike, O too bad. Still, perhaps you’d like to entertain a bit of heresy here or there.
    As pub chats go, yours is very interesting.

    I’m quite keen on tea in intention, which I’ve been writing about, oddly enough. I think there’s a sense of representation in cognitive neuroscience that is very Thomistic, though with a different ontology.

  14. Well, there was my conjecture some time past that my beloved cat rosemary (now my icon) might actually be an incarnation of the Blessed Virgin. Some people frowned on this, but quite honestly she evoked in poorer folk on Galveston Island acts of reverence.

    And Houston, our nearby home, has been known to suffer severe traffic problems because of appearances of the Blessed Virgin. I think that in a country where pieces of toast with Christ’s face on them show up on ebay, a beautiful siamese cat is a deeper and more worthy symbol. One then just needs to push symbol over into an older notion of icon, where icons do have or contain some of thebeing of the person represented, and one is off with a miraculous cat.

    A simpler patheism might be more elegant though.

  15. You are making gently humorous combox conversation, right? I am being dense, but the cross-cultural thing is a m*i*n*e*f*i*e*l*d. With explosions. Especially on screen. As cunningly illustrated there with asterisks.

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