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. ieat

    I take that it means men are not capable of reading simple instructions and they need women to do this for them. I'm surprised men don't find it offensive.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • funnyman

      as long as women are doing the laundry i don't care what the label says.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. crbrian

    Did any body notice that it was only the social media that blew up? Appereantly the rest of the world is OK with it.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kristen

      Hey idiot...how do you think the 'social media' gets propagated? Automatons that only reside in the UK? Dip s***

      March 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Xman

      Whoa, easy there, Kristen. Don't get your panties in a bunch. I find this hil-arious.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      I can't take credit for this one: bunched up panties are hard to wash.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. garc

    What a wonderful thought, that the UK may be moving as far backward as the US seems to be lately. Lovely.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Julie

    Find them on the floor, throw them in the trash. Forget the label.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      Actually, that is very close to what I told a demanding boyfriend of mine. If he couldn't manage to put his dirty laundry into the hamper, it wasn't going to get washed. He learned real fast!

      March 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jenn

    It's clearly a joke. Come on.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • twisted sister.

      Its clearly demeaning! Come on now!

      March 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Well, you may be stuck in 1952, but the rest of the world has gone on. You stupid idiot. Go pander for your husband now.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Illeagle-j1

    So who really does the laundry. Not Joe Shmoe, it's mrs shmoe. Save time give the instructions to the one who is doing the job. Get real people, worry about the important things in life. Will Snookie's baby also seing from trees, will Newt Ginrich, be able to keep his wife from showing an expression much longer. Will Dance With The Stars feature a wheel chair dancer? The important things in life.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tg_man

    My woman is a man so should he/she be offened?

    March 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • DuffMan

      No, but I am that you mentioned it.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Keepthemout

    how do you idiots turn this into politics and religion is hilarious....

    March 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe Six Pack

    F-em if they can't take a joke. Now go fix me a chicken pot pie.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Relictus

    HILARIOUS! Oh man! I'm gonna die, that's too funny!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jenzen01

    It should read: "Or give it your mommy, you big baby, if you can't figure these instructions out yourself."

    March 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ceri

    Great advertising strategy. Free worldwide coverage.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. politicallyChallenged

    Hello WHO was doing the laundry? the woman

    March 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • challengethis

      Nope, story says she was tidying up the house, doesn't say she was going to do the wash...

      March 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Frank

    Love it. I ADORE it!!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. who cares

    OH THE HUMANITY!!!!!!!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
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