UK pants label: Give laundry to 'your woman'
This tweet from British journalist Emma Barnett show's the laundry tag from a pair of Madhouse pants
March 8th, 2012
10:28 AM ET

UK pants label: Give laundry to 'your woman'

A firestorm set off in a pair of men's trousers has left a British apparel company deflecting allegations of sexism and denying that it thinks laundry is strictly a woman's job.

It's not every day that clothing care instructions spark controversy. But that's what happened after British journalist Emma Barnett picked up her boyfriend's pants over the weekend while tidying the house.

Underneath the usually customary "machine wash warm" instructions, the tag offered a less appropriate option: “OR – GIVE IT TO YOUR WOMAN, IT’S HER JOB.”

Barnett tweeted an image of the tag on Monday, prompting an immediate outcry on social media and demands to out the company, Madhouse. The ensuing controversy has divided the citizenry into two camps: those who thought it was hilarious, with some asking how they can buy a pair, and those who found it offensive.

"Now normally I am the type of person who can stomach, and often smile along, with a touch of what has just become known as casual sexist 'banter,’ " Barnett, digital media editor for the the Daily Telegraph, wrote in a column. 

"Usually sexist jibes, statements, or even t-shirt logos, have some kind of juvenile or puerile humour to them. There’s more often than not a slight hint of tongue-in-cheek that allows most women to just pass off the remark or slogan as ‘stupid banter’ – even if they are seething inside," she said.

"There was no attempt at wit, and unlike the Topman t-shirts, which offended so many with their brazen slogans to be worn across young men’s chests – this was a hidden message – or rather an order, intended to encourage women to reassume their once their ‘proper place’ (in the home) and young men to maintain the expectations of their grandfathers.

Many who took up the issue on social media agreed with her.

"Way to alienate a substantial part of your potential customer base :O," Mfy Nixon said, echoing the sentiments of many who would later join the discussion on Twitter.

Others, including women, saw humor in the situation, from the label itself to the ensuing controversy.

"Wash labels in these chinos say "Give it to your woman" #SexistHeros …although women all over will riot. #BigMistake," Joe Richardson said.

"Can't take the joke, don't buy them. Now go fix my dinner," Ms. Melisa Kim said.

Others criticized Madhouse for taking a day to respond with the claim that the trousers were manufactured by a brand they stock and that they did not proof the care instructions.

"There was never any intention to offend it is obvious that we need to be a lot more careful when proofing sold goods," Madhouse said on its Twitter feed. "If we had noticed the label the items would never of been put in our stores. A mistake was made and we apologise for this."

The company has not issued a statement and did not respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment. But it has been responding to tweets, including those showing support.

"Glad to see that someone has found it funny. We did not instigate this and the labels on supplied jeans will be proofed better," the company said in response to a comment that the label was "brilliant."

What do you think about the tag? Weigh in and let us know in the comments below.

soundoff (1,471 Responses)
  1. James

    You know what, the tag is just a joke. You don't have to find it funny, it's your right, but isn't it the companies right to say want they want? And don't give me ridiculous examples of making racist or other overly offensive jokes, because yes, they would have a rite to say those to.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Linda

    Wow, nobody has a sense of humor any more, whatever happened to the days when people could just have a good laugh because they were confidence in themselves and for all those out there that can't I say Suck it Up and Get a Life!!!!!!!!!!...................the label is hilarious :)

    March 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      I meant to say, had cofindence in themselves

      March 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Viper4486

    If you are REALLY angry/complaining about this, you're an idiot. You should probably be worrying about more important things. Jus' Sayin'..

    March 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. laundrygirl

    Good god its friggin hilarious. I do the whole d##m families laundry everyday and I'm way more amused than offended. Grow a pair all you bra burners out there...

    March 9, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. reid

    I agree with other observations, that it was interesting she was cleaning up her boyfriend's house and for the only the reason of doing his laundry, read the tag (unless she was having difficulty finding a magazine in his messy house and needed reading material). As for Madhouse, why are they dismissing the tag as not their fault? I would be reveling in the free publicity, since most people find it amusing. My mother always told my father, "I don't wear your shirts, why should I iron them? Start doing my laundry and maybe I can do some of yours – we'll see how it goes".

    March 10, 2012 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. J R Brown

    I want a pair of those pants!

    March 10, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  7. thomas

    this i so funny... idk why ppl are upset about this, its not like its the first time some one has made this joke.

    in my house, that is her job. Along with dishes and cooking (though i help with dishes most of the time). my job, affords our house, our food, our car, our clothes, water, power, AC, cable, internet, phones, and everything else we buy. so yes, doing the laundry IS her job, and she agrees with me =)

    March 10, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. me

    Why does it say give to women, women dont wear the pants.

    March 10, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • McLovin

      ...because it their job. Plus if women did their job unemployment would finally drop below 8%!!!!

      March 11, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. McLovin

    yo son na mean dat wuz lik sooo fun-e ay had ta laf sirriously y do ya git so mad at ppl win dey do it all in fun......
    Smart people read it... Funny people get it... Stupid people are just angry... Dumb people are lost...

    March 11, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • ...

      I think you purposely went out of your way to respond in the most illiterate, grammatically ignorant way possible.
      Speak English.

      March 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Matt

    Get over it, why is it my job to kill spiders, take care of the lawn and lift heavy bags? If you'd ignore a speed limit sign, why wouldn't you ignore some stupid label in a pair of trousers?

    As the old joke goes, 'How many women does it take to change a burnt light bulb? None, they're happier complaining about it.'

    March 11, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soozee Cue

      You're first name isn't LAUNDRY is it?

      March 12, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. EQ620

    I think it's hilarious and that women need not be so sensitive. It's a joke and a darn good advertising ploy. Kudos to the company that did this.

    March 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Soozee Cue

    No problem....just keep the paycheck coming and I'll be more than happy to have the maid wash your pants.

    March 12, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Maximillian

    I've seen plenty worse than this in my time. You're not going to be able to sensor the world, so stop trying, get over it, move on. Obviously there is a customer base that appreciates this or the company that manufactures the pants wouldn't be profiting.

    A good bit of humour and bringing something new to the industry, no matter how small! Good job Madhouse & thanks for providing a little bit of humour for me this morning.

    March 14, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. Roberta

    The funniest part of all is the fact that she was obviously doing the laundry when she found the label.....so she is a good woman after all ...hahahhahah

    March 14, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Doug

    It needs to have a little cartoon icon at the bottom, too, of a stick man giving a basket of laundry to a stick woman :)

    I think that would actually make it seem less offensive and more "tongue in cheek" as the author says.

    March 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
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