Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is 撒切尔夫人, whose husband is not a celebrity before she becomes a PM, but another female PM Liz Truss is called directly 特拉斯, but not XXX 夫人?The same goes for former German chancellor Angel Merkel, former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, wife of former US President Bill Clinton, who deserves most the title Mrs. Clinton克林顿夫人.But nobody calls her so in China.

All these ladies are married women, so is there double standard?

  • I guess there is some historical reason, but not double standard.
    – fefe
    Commented Jan 8 at 8:30
  • 1
    Maybe it's because she's called "The Iron Lady".
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Jan 8 at 8:59
  • 1
    Hong Kong transliterated her name as "戴卓爾夫人" which is much more elegant
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jan 8 at 9:21
  • @Becky李蓓 Merkel is not less than her in political accomplishments Commented Jan 9 at 9:52

1 Answer 1


so is there a double standard?

Of course, there is.

夫人 (Madam) is an honorific we use to address women in high-status

The English PM 特拉斯 is an unknown in Chinese society, but Margaret Thatcher is an accomplished and famous female figure in Chinese culture

Another reason we call someone 夫人 is she is married to a man of high status

There are some examples of noticeable female figures we use the honorific 夫人 to address, 甘地夫人(Indira Gandhi), 居禮夫人(Marie Curie), and 貝隆夫人(Eva Perón). It all depends on how the Chinese culture perceives these female figures

  • 1
    Really good explanation. Its very important to keep in mind that double standards are not just negative behaviors, but any different behaviors when compared in such ways. Especially when looking at different cultures-- what even counts as negative itself often changes.
    – zagrycha
    Commented Jan 9 at 9:43
  • Bill Clinton's wife and Donald Trump's daughter have only their first name known to the Chinese public, 希拉里 and 伊万卡 respectively. If they are called 克林顿夫人or 特朗普大小姐, nobody knows who they are. That is weird, to some degree. Commented Jan 9 at 9:56

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