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. Jason

    I have seen this label on some stuff my son own's and think it is funny as heck. It is a joke and if you don't think it is funny, you need to get over yourself. My guess is that the people who don't think this is funny don't buy these products anyway. The earth is becoming way to PC.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JakeS

    Awesome. Go figure that some stupid pms'ing woman is flipping out over it. It's a shame that women aren't born with a sense of humor

    March 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Sure, give them to me. 🙂 I'll put them through my shredder, that'll take care of the problem. No more laundry issues.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • JakeS

      Only if you cook me dinner after :p

      March 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      and men arent born with a brain

      March 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      Way to be typical.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cpc65

    Hand wash only, wench!

    March 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dr science

    This is just like when TopGear put on their shirt labels "The products were tested on animals – they didn't fit" just to get people excited. You're all being played.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. PTC Bernie

    So it's ok to joke that men are stupid and can't wash their own clothes, but god forbid we let women think we're talking them down.
    Build a bridge, get over it.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Frank

    I've been washing my clothes for the last 35 years on my own.
    It ain't her "job".
    Does anyone ever read that thing – REALLY???
    A quick look, that's it. After seconds you don't even know anymore, what's on it, right?
    By this little funny addition to the tag, this company gets noted – now THAT'S advertising!
    If you take this serious, it's time for you to get professional help.
    Have fun washing, ironing and folding!!! ;P

    March 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Matt

    Emma Barnett is an overly sensitive idiot. Why does anyone read what she writes? It's women like her that give feminism a bad name to a lot of people.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Krista

    I agree with Mike. Honestly, this is just the kind of thing my husband would say and laugh with his buddies about over a beer. It doesn't bother me though, because when he gets home, he (and his friends) know he's in charge of doing the the laundry for us and our four girls!

    March 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. anon1

    seriously...lighten up... there's also a line of clothes geared towards kids and after the end of the care instructions it reads "or give it to your mom, it's her job"... it's just a joke....

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

    If the label had said "or if that's too complicated, give it to your woman," that would have been funny. "It's her job," not funny.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bob

    Great marketing! They started the controversy and everyone knows their name. The same way "Words With Friends" paid Alec Baldwin a healthy sum to make a scene on a plane. Gorilla marketing... it's great.

    If anything these women should rather be outraged by 'Wife Beater' shirts.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Travis

    see this is what happens when we let women learn to read.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      You sir, are a genius. Thank you.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |
  13. A Nomeite

    This girl from Nome thinks it's hilarious! Doesn't anyone have a sense of humor any more?
    ....just like my car manual should contain the phrase, "heck, just give it to your man." Lol.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Vic

    I thought a woman's job was just to provide you with an alibi for where you were at the time of the crime?

    March 7, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Joe

    Maybe she should stop picking up his laundry, there problem solved...

    March 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
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