The title to the email in my inbox was ""Au revoir, mademoiselle," and although I'm not single, I thought they were using a conventional form of flattery to remind me that it was time to renew my commitment to their excellent language site. Alas, non!
The decision comes after months of campaigning by two French feminist groups, Osez le féminisme! (Dare To Be Feminist!) and Les Chiennes de garde (The Watchdogs), who argue that the term places an unfair emphasis on a woman's marital status. Mademoiselle literally means "my young lady" (ma + demoiselle), just as madame comes from "my lady" and monsieur "my lord." Monsieur has long been used to identify both single and married men, as the archaic male equivalent of mademoiselle, mon damoiseau, never became an honorific title. Now madame will be used for all women, whether single or married, and is thus best translated as "Ms." instead of "Mrs."
The Prime Minister's order will also replace nom de jeune fille (maiden name) and nom patronymique (patronymic) with nom de famille (family name), and nom d'époux/nom d'épouse (married name) with nom d'usage (used name).
Well, there you have it. Just as in English, the differentiation will be erased in official realms, though "Miss" is still used as a form of courtesy to those who look like they won't scowl at its kindliness.
Another victory for those with an axe to grind against sex differences and marriage itself. And although "au revoir" technically means "until we see each other again," we might not see this term restored in our lifetimes.