Difference Between Madame and Mademoiselle

Madame vs Mademoiselle

Madame and mademoiselle are French terms of respect for ladies that have been traditionally used in the country since time memorial. There is not much of a difference between these two terms though Madame is applied to ladies who are mature and married while mademoiselle is used to refer to unmarried girls and ladies and nowadays also to refer to divorced ladies. But there has been uproar and debate among the lawmakers in France lately as women’s groups complained that mademoiselle is sexist in nature and must be removed from official documents. The French Premier has obliged saying that from now on, there will only be a single column for ladies that says Madame. Let us take a closer look the two terms of reference for ladies in France.

In France, madame and mademoiselle are two words that are used to address women while there is just monsieur to address men. Women have till now been forced to choose either Madame (married) or Mademoiselle (unmarried). This was clearly asking them to reveal their marital status which is not what men have to undergo as there is only one term to address them, and that is monsieur. “Why is it important for women to reveal their marital status” is what irks women the most. Up until now, official documents in France contained three boxes with monsieur, madame, and mademoiselle as the options. While a man had to tick against monsieur alone, women had to indicate whether they were married or unmarried.

Mademoiselle implies youth and immaturity besides being used for unmarried women. French women have unanimously voted against mademoiselle saying it is sexist in nature. They want only madame to be used for them as is the case with monsieur for men. If a woman is mature but unmarried, to be labeled mademoiselle is problematic and vulgar at times. Divorced and unmarried women feel that, after a certain age, it is disgusting and shameful to be called mademoiselle.

In general, it depends upon the age and marital status of the woman whether she is addressed as madame or mademoiselle. If she looks very young despite being married, she is likely to be called mademoiselle by shopkeepers and all strangers. Also, if a woman is very old, but a spinster, she may be called mademoiselle, which looks awful to many, including her.

But things are going to change very soon as the French Prime Minister has bowed to the pressure of women’s groups and decided to do away with mademoiselle from official documents. From now onwards, women in France will not be asked to choose between madame and mademoiselle for themselves as it will be simply madame for all women just as it is monsieur for all men.

Madame vs Mademoiselle

• Madame is used as a term of respect for married women whereas mademoiselle is a term of address for unmarried girls in France.

• Till now official documents in France asked women to reveal their marital status by ticking on either of the two boxes namely madame and mademoiselle.

• People addressed young looking women as mademoiselle and older women as madame.

• Women’s groups have always demanded the abolition of this practice and removal of mademoiselle from official documents.

• The government has agreed and now onwards there will only be madame for women on official documents as it is just monsieur for men.