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. Anono

    My wife recently asked me to whisper dirty things in her ear.

    To which I replied: "Bathroom, kitchen, living room, etc..."

    March 7, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Keep 'em coming, please.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mrs. Fudd

    I think this is hysterical. How sad that people get their panties in a twist over something so obviously done tongue in cheek. Get a life, people, and stop taking things so seriously!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Hysterical, panties in a twist- your are an idiot

      March 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • jp's a joke people.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • rlj

      Yeah – happy to say that women's place in society is no longer such that we are offended or disadvantaged by something like this – it's just humorous.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brad

    Very interesting point: how did a woman find out what this label said on a man's pair of jeans?? Be a man and do your own laundry.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whiner

      Reading retention: C-

      March 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chris

    hmm... seems like a great move on their part. Never heard of that brand before this.

    and whats wrong with that anyway... I give my clothes to my woman to clean and she gets them 100% perfect every time!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Katie

    Since women do much of the shopping, this seems kind of stupid. Although the sort of Neanderthal that would think this was an ok instruction won't be able to read it anyway. Not really funny - could be much more clever and get away with it.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • UltraRunner24

      @Katie "Neanderthal?" And you mock the label? Your use of figurative language is severely lacking, precisely why males are needed to provide humor for the world.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ZzwilhelmzZ

    anyone ever think its a shot at men as much as it is to women... come on give the people a break

    March 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. hiltz006

    "but that's what happened after British journalist Emma Barnett picked up her boyfriend's pants while tidying the house."

    So basically she was doing her BFs laundry, but when the laundry told her to do it she got upset?


    March 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • agreed.

      ^ ^ ^

      March 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. what?

    Honey we're locked out of the trailer. Where's the key?

    you've never had a key! But I put a can opener in your back pocket, in hopes of opening your can, and letting the shi*t fall out of your azz, cuz im tired of taking it!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Yessup

    Everything offends everyone.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PleaseUseLogic

    When a wash-tag on a pair of jeans causes a controversy in your life, ruins your week, and occupies a lot of your time....... then that's a sign that your life is too easy, comfortably empty, and mostly meaningless. It may be hard to imagine, but there are people out there with real problems that are actually bigger than washing instructions on a tag. Just let that sink in for a minute if the jeans don't have you too upset.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. David Foster

    Fake, obviously. Someone made it and posted it online, big deal

    March 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      I do wonder if that's the case. It seems a little convenient the woman who found this is a journalist. Still, the company seems to have responded and they took a day doing so, which suggests they may have actually investigated the matter first. IDK.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ugh

    The label is quite funny

    March 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Crystal

    I'm a woman and I think it's SUPER funny. People need to lighten up and learn to laugh.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      I predict a happy life for you.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. blah9999

    It's obviously pretty fake. Didn't CNN learn from the $1.33 tip hoax?

    March 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      That would imply they care about validity of sources. The simple fact that we're on here, reading the article and taking the time to respond means they've accomplished what they wanted to.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rick

    This joke can totally go both ways. For a married guy, the joke is obvious, but for a single guy like me, "haha you are too ugly to get a girlfriend to do laundry for you" type of joke.

    Forever alone...

    March 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
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