Coco Chanel rolls over in her grave

French feminists celebrate another victory. They will no longer have to deal with "mademoiselle" - the word that has been irritating them for years. The French government ordered to strike the word out from official documents. It is quite possible that the word will eventually disappear from every-day speech of the French people. Spokespeople for feminist organizations are certain that this word is demeaning to women. The legendary Coco Chanel, who was addressed as 'mademoiselle' throughout her life, rolls over in her grave.

The word will thus be removed from official documents and blanks. Word combinations "maiden name" and "married name" are supposed to disappear from documents as well. According to French feminists, when a person sees 'maiden name' in a document, they subconsciously start thinking about the loss of virginity. Therefore, "maiden name" will be replaced with the neutral "name given at birth." "Married name" does not reflect the status of widows and divorcees, the feminists claim. "Used name" will be used instead.

What is the point of the controversy behind the word "mademoiselle?" A year ago, French feminists launched a large-scale campaign, nearly a war, against the word. Catherine Deneuve, a well-known French actress, always preferred "mademoiselle" as a form of address. Iconic French couturier Coco Chanel preferred the same.

In France, people usually use this word to address young women and single ladies. Neither Deneuve nor Chanel has ever been married officially. They had all rights to be addressed as "mademoiselle." It is clear, though, that the matter is not about the single status alone. This word is pleasant to hear for every woman as she ages. She may have three children and a husband of 20 years, but she would always be pleased to hear someone saying "mademoiselle" to her.

This word makes older women feel younger. "Madam" is much more serious at this point. Madam is madam. Madam's life is predetermined for 100 years ahead.

All of that can be true if a woman is not a feminist, of course. A true feminist will never look younger than she actually is. She is certain that women tend to look younger to attract men's attention. Is there anything more humiliating than that for a true feminist?

The word "mademoiselle" was "executed" in France for a similar sexist reason. The word originates from the word "virgin," and such an implication is degrading to women. As a matter of fact, the majority of women and men do not even think about the implication.  They just use the word and could only careless about the original meaning of it. However, for feminists, each and every issue is a sex issue in the first place.

Several years ago, a similar gender topic surfaced in the European Parliament in an unusual aspect. They wanted to ban everything at once: mademoiselle, madam, frau and senhora. The reason given was the same: a form of address from the point of view of gender is demeaning to female deputies of the parliament. Furthermore, they put forward a fresh idea: not to use the words that were related to men. It goes about such words as ombudsman, policeman, sportsman, etc. All of them should be replaced with politically correct neutral word combinations. This would eliminate sex discrimination, the authors of the idea believed.

The Soviet Union never went that far, even though there was true sexual equality between men and women in the Soviet country. Both women and men would be addressed "comrade" - the word that has been lost and forgotten in modern-day Russia. The essence of the Soviet sexual equality was about economy in the first place. In the USSR, women would never be paid less than men for the same job. Many developed countries have a way to go for that form of equality between men and women. However, it appears that feminists have more important things to do.

Many reproach feminists for their struggle against men. However, it appears that they struggle against women. For some reason, they want to get rid of the words that emphasize the feminine nature. Don't they want women to think of themselves as women? Do they want to turn women into "people of indefinite sex?"

From this point of view, opening a door for a woman and letting her go first is insulting to the human dignity of a woman. A compliment is considered an act of sexual harassment. An elderly man got himself into big trouble at an Israeli airport after he told a pretty lady behind the counter that he would set up to her if he was younger. In Scandinavian countries, one may witness the growing number of single fathers. The mothers of those children believe that they do not have to raise them.

More importantly, do feminists ask the opinions of other women, for whose rights, as they say, they struggle? No one has conducted any sort of referendum in France to decide the fate of a beautiful French word. Does every French woman think that this word should be banned? Or is it another victory of the aggressive minority that propagates absurdity in the society?

Svetlana Smetanina


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov