PARIS Official French documents will no longer force women to reveal their marital status by requiring them to choose the title Mademoiselle or Madame.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has ordered all regional and local governments to remove the title "Mademoiselle" -- used for unmarried women and implying a youthful immaturity -- from official documents.
From now on, people filling out government forms will get just two choices: Madame or Monsieur.
The change, signed in a memo to regional and local governments by Fillon this week, comes after lobbying from women's groups who argued that Mademoiselle is sexist. Its male equivalent -- Monsieur -- does not distinguish marital status.
Mademoiselle also carries connotations of youth and immaturity, making it potentially problematic for unmarried women after a certain age, and confers a lesser status.
Chanel's "Coco Mademoiselle" for example, is for example is described as a lighter, fresher version of the original Coco.
Respondents on official documents will also no longer be asked to supply their maiden names, their father's last name, or the name of their husbands.
Fillon noted that various government forms contained terms "referring, without justification or need, to the marital status of women." When forms are next printed, those titles must be eliminated, he wrote.
Two groups, Osez le Feminisme (Dare for Feminism) and Les Chiennes de Garde (The (female) Guard Dogs) began a joint campaign in September as a reminder that "the Madame/Mademoiselle distinction ... is a sign of standard sexism that endures in our society."
"Far from being flattering, the title "Mademoiselle" obliges women to divulge their private life, as if marriage conferred a superior value on women," wrote the campaign.
"It's a reminder of the time when women passed, through marriage, from the authority of their fathers to the authority of their husbands."
(Reporting By Alexandria Sage, editing by Paul Casciato)