General Articles

EU to Eliminate “Mrs.” and “Miss” in Favor of “Gender Neutral” Language

Hilary White,

BRUSSELS, March 18, 2009 ( – Officials of the European Union have issued a booklet for EU Parliamentary staff, saying that the use of "Miss" and "Mrs" for women, as well as such terms as "statesman" and "fireman," are to be banned on the grounds that they are "sexist."

Any honorifics that distinguish between a married and an unmarried woman in any language are to be banned as well, including "Madame" and "Mademoiselle," "Frau" and "Fraulein," "Senora" and "Senorita." Instead, staff are asked not to use any form of honorific and merely to address women by their names.

"Gender-specific" terms, such as "statesman," are to be replaced with gender-free alternatives, such as "political leader."

But not all MEPs are going along quietly with the feminist doctrines. The Scottish Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson called it a case of "political correctness gone mad."

A European Parliament spokesman defended the booklet, saying, "The information is a guideline only and it is intended for staff and not for MEPs. It is particularly useful for translators and interpreters, who are being asked to consider gender-neutral languages when they are translating documents or interpreting MEPs speaking in the chamber."

Since its inception in the early 1960s the imposition of "inclusive language," and particularly the elimination of honorifics that indicate marital status, has been a key issue for the radical feminist movement in the English speaking world. In the US, the movement’s flagship publication, founded by feminist icon Gloria Steinem in 1972, was titled "Ms.," an indication of the importance to feminists of the abolition of traditional honorifics.

The Halifax Chronicle Herald mocked the decision in an unsigned editorial, saying it was a throwback to the era of bellbottoms and love beads.

Calling it "politically correct nonsense," the editorial said that the "muddled thinking behind the effort is certainly familiar to many" in heavily politically correct Canada.

"Ensuring men’s and women’s rights are equal does not mean we have to disinfect language to remove all gender references. Insisting on doing so can actually rob words and phrases of meaning."