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. John

    I love it. Where do I buy these clothes?

    March 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    Seriously... now if a car listed "Let your man wash it" in the care instructions, do you think we'd see the same response? The media has done a good job of making all men out to be brainless cavemen who can't do anything right except watch TV, drink beer and sleep. One way to look at this is another stereotype of how stupid men are, we can't even wash our own clothes without the help of don't bother.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      I can see it now.

      Instructions on jar: "Twist counter-clockwise to open OR give to your man, it's his job".

      It's glorious.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      It was the "it's her job" part that offended so many people. The whole "go ahead and make a mess, it's a woman's job to clean up after you" thing is, well, boorish.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • scott brennan

      I think its hilarious. And you know what else, so does my wife. Some people are just too thinned skinned and PC to get a joke...

      March 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Charles

    Calm down and wash my pants, woman. Or don't complain when my 501s dye your white dress with a blue hue.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dixie Independent voter

    Female here. I'm laughing. I think the joke here is that the washing instructions are so clear even a man could understand them.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Male here. Who was the last female world chess champion again? Oh yeah, that's right, there never was one. I think simple instructions were made for the likes of you.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Javelin

    When I worked at the grocery store the ones who the manager (a woman btw) always had bring in the shopping carts and take out the trash were men. And if you were to tell me that its my job as a man to carry garbage to a dumpster I would just laugh, as would just about any man. Have you ever noticed feminists see traditionally female roles like laundry and taking care of children (which are every bit, if not more so, important as taking out the trash or having a job) as a bad thing, but the same feminists see traditionally male roles as a good thing? Doesn't that mean feminists see masculine as good and femininity as bad? 8\

    March 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CNNuthin

    1872 – The word "Feminism" is coined.
    March 7th, 2012 – The day they took it too far to fight a label on a pair of pants.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. darren

    I don't know how many others have noticed it, but women's lib is dead. I am just old enough to remember the women's lib movement of the late 60's/early 70's.
    But if you look at TV media, we have come full circle and are back to the 1950's image of the "good domestic little housewife" who takes care of the house and the kids and fixes dinner and washes the laundry and all that stuff. Only thing is, now the media has given her the the added burden of a full-time job and daily trips to the gym to keep a teenage figure well into her 40's.
    Strange thing is, this generation, the generation of my daughter seems to be embracing it, at least for now anyway.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. k5150

    Let me get this straight. The woman is tidying up the house, picking up her boyfriend's pants for him, and she is offended by a label that says "Give it to your woman it's her job"? Evidently picking up after your boyfriend is woman's work but washing his clothes isn't.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tom

    The only funny thing about this, his woman found it while cleaning up after him.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. james

    get in the kitchen. maybe its a joke, why does everything need to be politically correct all the time. stop dumbing down everything into useless -isms stop being so silly with useless media and see blatant corruption happening everywhere.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. john

    People need to grow up. Nobody has the 'right' not be be offended. People get to say what they want (short of endangering others like yelling "FIRE" in a crowded theater would) and if you don't like it, ok, you don't like it. But please, stop telling people what they can and cannot say. It's un-American. Remember the 1st amendment? If you don't like it, don't buy the pants. But PLEASE STOP WHINING!

    March 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      The first amendment works both ways.

      The people selling the pants have the right to be jerks with their washing labels.
      And people complaining about the labels have the right to call them on it, too.

      (though actually it's all in the UK, which has a totally separate set of laws, so this is irrelevant anyway, but I do feel the need to point out that the 1st Amendment says "Congress shall make no law infringing freedom of speech", not "I can say anything I feel like and nobody is allowed to tell me I'm wrong."

      March 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Greenspam


    March 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • CNNuthin

      Yeah, but CNN is trying to make it a habit of having one random internet fake made into a nation debate each week. Remember the 1% tip receipt from last week? Same thing is going to happen on this.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. chicago7

    I wonder if this isn't another "1% tip get a real job" hoax.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Javelin

      lol, that would be hilarious. Though there doesn't seem to be many ragers on CNN this time.
      (Why is it I can post on this SoundOff but not some of CNN's other SoundOffs?)

      March 7, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. zooni

    Ever since I washed my red shirt with my girlfriends white blouse, the give to your woman instructions have been implicit.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ed

    Who cares. People are so uptight these days. I think most people would find this funny or ignore it if they didn't. The small, loud minority that's got some drum to beat takes over here; similiar to American politics.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
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