Horror of Honorifics

The French are phasing out “mademoiselle” in an effort to acknowledge that we have, indeed, entered the 21st century.

The move to move beyond this often belittling term is the work of French feminists who seek true equality, regardless of their marital status. I applaud their efforts and would go a step further to ban all gender-specific honorifics. It’s not enough to drop “mademoiselle” or “miss” since “monsieur” and “mister” remain the default center of the title-universe around which all other terms revolve and are measured.

Surely, our languages contain enough honorifics to replace these gendered terms: professor, chef, curator, imagineer. They needn’t be tied to one’s profession either: dreamer, cyclist, Scrabble Master.

We’re already in the teens of this new century. One would hope that our society could finally abandon such a demeaning custom.

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