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. Rich

    How ironic the only reason she saw it in the first place was she was cleaning up after her man. LOL

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


      March 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pillage'N'Plunder

    I bet when she started tweeting some guys trousers didn't get washed. If it is her job, shes bad at it.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mw1979

    There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with this. My husband and I thought it was hilarious, and I do the laundry 100% of the time. There's obviously a short list of world atrocities to crusade about, and people have to resort to this. Hmmmm.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • JanetMermaid

      Bet he keeps you pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen, too.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Hey Janet, what if that's what she prefers? Isn't that her choice? I thought feministlibabortoholics were all about choice...

      March 8, 2012 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. jaa

    As a woman i would have found it an eye rolling/smirk moment if they had left off the last bit "its her job". Then it could have been taken a number of ways.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. James

    I see no problem here. Women should do laundry for their husbands.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      And why can't you do it yourself? Are you that lazy?

      March 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    Where can I buy a pair of these pants?

    March 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • TBagger

      How do so many women find time to blog about this? They must have computers in their kitchen. Put down the bon bons and make me a sandwitch.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. enricorosan

    On the contrary, the label is intended to do the opposite. It extols the intellectual capacity of women and they should take it as a compliment . What it means : that women are a lot smarter than men and can do a much better job taking care of the laundry and they are more fitted to do simple house chores that we men are too stupid to perform adequately. It is a matter of perspective. Women please don't be offended , it is a compliment ! ! so go ahead do the laundry because you are smarter than men.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sarah

    I thought it was hilarious, and I'm a woman. Some people just sit around and try to think up things to be mad about. Why don't you use some of that anger and aim it toward something useful, like hunger and poverty?

    March 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Harlon Katz

    Does anyone else see that part of the "joke" with the labels was knowing that this type of "storm" would surface because SOMEONE would get offended?

    March 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • sunsohot

      Yep. Thinking Madhouse jeans will get a lot of mileage out of this. Good, bad or indifferent – if your company name makes the news, it's all good for the bottom line.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ahuvah

    I think it's way to funny! LOL

    March 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Devon

    I think this is one of those situations were non-verbal cues, such as tone and body langue, would have changed the meaning completely. Of course these thing are lost when written on a label. I thought it was funny, and even in my head it read like a joke. I have no qualms with joking about this kind of thing, I believe we change and eventually destroy stereotypes by making them ridiculous through humor.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lindsay

    I'm a feminist. Let there be no doubt about it before I say that I think it's a joke and it's a funny one at that. Also, what was she doing when she found the pants? Was she tidying? Might she, specifically, have been doing the laundry? Yes indeedy, I think she may have been doing her job as a woman when she found that label!

    March 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Finally! A feminist with a sense of humor. Thank you.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. MMANoftheHOUSE

    i think it's funny
    dont forget the ironing

    March 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Aggie94

    This is Hi-Larious! I love it. I would buy a pair for my hubby. 🙂 Now if only poopy diapers were labeled give it to your husband. hehehehe

    March 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. elizabeth

    I like the label!

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