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. 4commonsensenow

    I do the garbage and she does the laundry.I offered to switch duties, but we both know I would look like some wrinkle guy going into public if I did the laundry.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • MCM

      It's not because you CAN'T do the laundry – you can. It's because you've worked out an equitable chore schedule, and you compromised.

      The label isn't saying that. The assumption behind the label is: It's the woman's job to do the laundry. Yes, men can do it, but why would they when the woman exists? The language of the label doesn't allow room for compromise or caveats. It doesn't allow room for women to be equal. It explicitly denies it.

      That's the difference.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stop whining

      Really @MCM !? Get a life must be an attorney. Is that Gloria Allred? People like you are the scourge of the planet.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      MCM, most happy people are able to laugh at themselves. You should try it sometime...after you finish the laundry.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. saywhat

    Perhaps if the apparel company puts a label on the other side saying" Give your garbage to the man" it might sooth feelings.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • P3D0-B3AR

      I think you meant "Give your man a beer."

      March 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cateyes7

      That's for sure! Love it!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2EL8

      Give me a beer then make me a sandwich.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. P3D0-B3AR

    That company should be ashamed! Don't they know that she belongs in the kitchen?!

    March 7, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • rrin2012

      This is a simple truth

      March 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kayla

      hahaha... thats true too! However, my man can cook better than I can lol

      March 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • funnyman

      that is why wedding dresses are white, to match the appliances.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Portland tony

    Who reads the underside of the label anyway?

    March 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • P3D0-B3AR

      Our women, so they know how to properly wash our clothes.

      March 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • rrin2012

      A woman should, so she can avoid being disciplined.

      March 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jj

    I got a chuckle outta that one

    March 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Annaliesa

    I think this would have gone over better if it had said, "It's her job, because you're an idiot."

    March 7, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • P3D0-B3AR

      You should find yourself a copy of "Good Wife's Guide."

      March 7, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Annaliesa

      The Good Wife's Guide is hilarious! I love the "listen to him" bit – my husband talks on the phone most of the time at work. The last thing he wants to do is talk, especially about his day.

      Heh, and good luck minimizing noise with a toddler. They don't put mute buttons on kids, unfortunately!

      March 7, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cateyes7


      March 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamie Craig

      There's s mute button for the sprogs. It's called duct-tape.

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

      How does your girlfriend feel about the label ?

      March 8, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. John

    I think most women who are upset by this are hypocrites. If something heavy needs to be moved, do they do it themselves? Not likely. They call their man to do it. How many women mow the lawn? And how is this saying all women need to get back in the house and do chores all day? Whether she's a career woman or not, laundry still needs to be done. People now often just split chores, and I bet women do the laundry at least 80% of the time in those situations.

    March 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • P3D0-B3AR

      80% of the time?! That's outrageous! They should be tending to it 100% of the time.

      March 7, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Annaliesa

      I mow the lawn, and our lawn mower isn't self-propelled. I typically lift heavy things myself, also – I was the girl in the office who changed the water cooler jugs, despite being 5'1 and having very little muscle tone. I do a lot of the laundry, but that's more because I don't need my wool sweaters shrunken from hot water and my white shirts blue from being mixed with denim.

      I rolled my eyes at the tag. The message "Women must follow strict, traditional gender roles as outlined in Leave it to Beaver," was pounded in to my head as a kid, and I never bothered to follow them. It's certainly annoyed a few men along the way, but oh well.

      I can see where women would get angry. Traditional gender roles are outright obnoxious and damaging. I think when you're not female (or black, or GLBT, or whatever), you tend to not notice how disparaging society can be towards people who aren't rich white men. I'm definitely not saying that rich white men are evil – most of the ones I've encountered are great people – but there is an obliviousness that comes with being in a privileged class. I say this as a white middle-class woman who was in for a big shock when taking a job for a human services agency. There are some things you just don't notice...

      March 7, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • GoBlue2326

      Completely false analogy. I ask my husband to help me lift something heavy because he's 7 inches taller and 75 pounds heavier than I am. He naturally is better suited to lifting something heavy. There is nothing about me that makes me better suited to doing laundry. If a woman is married to a man who isn't smart enough to be capable of reading labels, that's different.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • funnyman

      GoBlue2326 then according to your line of thinking men should do all the chores because we are able to. Tell you what, I got a chore below my belt that needs done and i am not flexible enough to do it myself. haha

      March 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I think it's a fair analogy because my point isn't about being "better suited", it's about how many women have no problem defining certain things as jobs for men, but get offended when a man implies something is a woman's job.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • wavejump1100

      @ goblue just because someone is big does not mean they should have to lift heavy things. i am just over 6' 220lbs and people at work constantly ask me to lift or move things for them. i hate it. we are all paid the same why do i have do do all the hard work? i tell them i have a bad back. what im thinking is do your own work. by your logic a short person would be better at cleaning floors or emptying the dryer and the dishwasher so they dont have to bend over as far. do you think its fair for short people to be assigned these jobs?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Agent Frank

      Annaliesa, are you the alpha dog around your house, or does your wife share in the chores with you ?

      March 8, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Dusty

      she was just going through his pockets, women don't do a thing for free, she was snooping

      March 8, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Annaliesa

      My my, Agent Frank! Aren't you trying to get a rise out of me, you little rascal! I imagine if I defended not lifting heavy things due to wanting to keep my manicure pristine you would have said something disparaging as well.

      It's called an equal partnership, dude. It actually works pretty well. I've been with the same guy for eight years now. We're happy. It's more than I can say for a lot of people I know.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shael

      @John, I lift heavy stuff on a routine basis. I also do carpentry and basic house repairs such as laying new tile and redueing the drywall cause there was a leak. I also maintain all computer and electronic components in my house. In exchange, my husband cooks, does the bulk of the vacuuming and mopping and does dishes (as far as putting them into a dishwasher). Dispite our change in roles, I would never, ever, ever let him do laundry. I did once, and he forgot to check the pockets of a pair of jeans (his by the way) and left in an ink pen. Needless to say, that did not turn out well. The close made it all the way through the dryer and were completely ruined...

      @All So yes, gender defined roles went out years ago. BUT I find the tag to be hilarous. We really do need to get rid of "Political Correctness". Laugh people. It was a suppose to be funny, if you took it that seriously, you really need to re-evalute your life.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sielingfan

    Funny thing is Emma Barnett totally noticed it while doing the d@mn laundry.

    March 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • P3D0-B3AR


      March 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kayla

      where is the "like" button!!!!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fred

    Heck, she bought the darn things anyway with all those instructions! What now I gotta go to computer camp to wash my clothes?

    March 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. André Kruger

    Welll... it was spotted by a woman picking up her man's clothes... pretty accurate piece of predictive labeling I would say!

    March 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Doreen

    What a fabulous free marketing ploy – some folks will buy just for the novelty and others for the pant (if they are worth it) either way the company got tons of free advertisement and probably more sales than they could ever have imagined. Once the label is changed it will all die down, but folks will remember there was some social issue about the clothing and the brand will stay on their minds.

    March 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. rrin2012

    We are not oblivious, or at least I'm not, it is just that my time has a higher value than that of a woman. My time should be spent on things which require dimensional, not linear, thinking. Women, by virtue of good training and proper coaching, can be made to feel important when successfully completing tasks for which they are better suited. I am all about helping women's self-esteem by setting them up to succeed in their proper role around the house.

    March 7, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      Your time has a higher value than a woman's?? Well your holiness, allow me to get your slippers.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • squeekbo

      Just a troll. Remember, do not feed the trolls.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Agent Frank

      .... and putting them on a pedestal, high enough to look up their dresses.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. Alex Povolotski

    I took the label differently - as a joke. Give it to your woman, she'll explain you the labels. And also, what's wrong with giving it to your woman to clean it? In most households, cleaning and ironing is a woman's prerogative.

    Does factual data offend people? Then there is something wrong with people perception of the reality. Get over it!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      That women tend to do more laundry is irrelevant. That companies are expecting them to do it is the misogynistic issue.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I am a woman. Doing laundry is not my job. I dont' get paid for it. My job is bringing a 6-figure income.
      Laundry is a chore that I do because I need to wear clean clothes for my job. I also mow the lawn because I don't mind doing it and I cook because i like eating real food.
      You see the difference? Job vs chore?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harlon Katz

      @Chris – well, MOST of us do those "chores" at home. Most of the time, if you have a partner at home with you, you split those chores. I know couples were each person will do their own washing, etc, but that seems inefficient. Also, in MOST male/female households, when the chores are split, the female ends up doing the laundry. (It was actually different in my household growing up, but besides the point).

      You have every right to be offended, but I would hope you NEVER use ANY stereotypical / generalized pejorative comments about men because you have stated that such humor is unacceptable.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      Chris makes six figures, thus she gives another woman her laundry... at the laundrymat. But it's a woman, none the less.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      It's called affection, people. I do things for my wife because I WANT TO and I WANT to make her feel special, 'cuz she is! And she reciprocates. And it's Glorious!!! All these label haters are lonely with their battery operated boyfriends! lol

      March 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      It was the "It's her job" think that pushed it over the line. Otherwise it seemed more of a joke...because it could be saying men are incompetent at laundry. Instead, it made it seem like laundry is the job of the woman. It was a traditional gender role from the past, but we have come a long way. So now it is insulting since women can be the bread winners in the family.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CPW

    Mountain out of a mole hill.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chelly

    This is supposed to be a joke, you idiots. Get a freaking life...

    March 7, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      It's only a joke when it's funny. This is just insulting and makes them look like knuckle draggers.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • whorutellin

      its not necassarily a womans job.. but they definitley are smart enough not to mess up ur clothes... there is a such thing as a womans touch!!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • MCM

      I guess when you're the meek type who'd rather avoid conflict than fight for what's right, passive-aggressively glossing over it with meaningless drivel is the next best thing.

      Don't worry, it won't affect you until it does. Until then, though, you're totally free to make the joke. It's not like the joke probably came from somebody who really thinks that way within the company; the type of person who would purposefully keep equally-qualified women from being promoted because all they're good for are secretarial duties. No, that would be the REAL joke...

      March 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      I wonder if Katie's knuckles drag...

      March 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • SarahJay

      But it IS funny. And if you take offense to a label on a pair of pants satirizing gender roles, then you must have deeper problems with yourself.

      Humor comes from pain, first rule of comedy (and no not always 'ouch!' pain, metaphoric pain as well). Whether it's emotional, or society roles or whatever! That is the basis of humor.

      If you are a strong, confident woman that is comfortable with her lot in life, I see no reason why you wouldn't laught at this. Women and girls that get offended are just sad, way too uptight, and are not wanting to really REALLY look at what is really bothering them.

      Honestly, it's a joke on a label on a pair of pants. People need to chill.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      SJ, you are a wise woman.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
    • CC

      @ SarahJay May I please marry you? You are wise and I find that very attractive!! Good point. People do need to calm down. It's more insulting to men than women.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Agree with SarahJay.

      If you get insulted by reading the label of a man's pants, then you have bigger issues to solve within yourself before you start trying to force your view of the world onto others.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
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