When I was younger and a bit more feisty, I was vehemently against being called Mademoiselle. Why should men only have one description while women are categorised by being married or not? But now, though I still agree with this sentiment in principle, I secretly love it when a shopkeeper adresses me as Mademoiselle, mostly accompanied by a wink. Makes me feel young and sexy!
You see, in France we still address each other with Madame, Monsieur and Mademoiselle — the equivalent of Sir, Madam and Miss. These terms, as far as I can tell, have completely dissapeared out of the English/American vocabulary. I really like this politeness. When I walk into a bakery I greet everyone in there with a general “Bonjour Monsieur/Dames” and when it is my turn I get told “A vous, Madame”.
There is a campaign in France to get rid of the Mademoiselle, which makes total sense. My grandmother’s two best friends, 90 and 92 respectively, are still known as Mademoiselle as they never got married. I address them as Mademoiselle, whilst they call me Madame, and there is not a lot of logic in that. I do hope the shopkeepers will continue to call me Mademoiselle though (and not forget the wink)!
What about in your country, are women still being addressed as Senorita, Senorina or Fräulein?
– Emilie x
The illustration is of Coco Chanel, one of France’s most famous Mademoiselles, by Adrian Tomine for the New Yorker.