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. julie

    they got their pr free – jokes on the women who are complaining – however reasonable their offense

    March 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Daniel

    Rush Limbaugh's pants...

    March 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Rush wears depends underwear with elastic-banded pants from k-mart

      March 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ando

    Seriously, is this news worthy?

    March 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ben

    It's just a joke. Are we going to file a class action lawsuit now for all the pain and suffering caused by it?

    March 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CalQT

    The label is totally funny and anyone offended by it needs to seriously lighten up.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Beer Summit

    Give your laundry to your woman...and go sleep n the couch...

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

    So.... who ended up washing the trousers? I bet it was the girlfriend 🙂

    March 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. frontgate

    very stupid.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dizzle

    I feel as if the "traditional" roles were distributed because of commonalities between the gender and the duties. Whether we like it or not, the females do have that motherly instinct. While men have the knack for problem solving. And i'm not saying that this is totally true all the time in every case but generally speaking... its true. Heavy lifting and hands on projects were given to men because we have more muscle mass and its easier for us. not saying a woman cant do these things but, doesn't it make sense to give jobs to those whom it comes naturally? If you were a manager making a hire and witnessed two potential hires both doing the same jobs with minimal instruction and one does much better, who would u hire? yes women should have all the rights that men do but we all should "know our roles". and if your a man that has a knack for household duties then take charge. if your a do it yourself woman who can do things better than your man. do it! and the media didnt give them the full time job. the womens rights movement did that. and the economy is keeping them there. but they are equipped with dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, and loads of exceptional cleaning supplies. dont even neeed elbow grease anymore. scrubbing bubbles does all the work for you. and hit a button and the shower cleans itself. don't make it sound all medieval,women back in the day had it hard. and men these days are expected to help around the house and take care of the kids. so what the hell are you people complaining about? we all have work to do.. do it and stop complaining.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Astronidas

      Finally someone else who thinks like me!! 😀

      March 7, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • MCM

      Read a few scientific articles sometime, would you? Women don't have an "innate motherly instinct" any moreso than men. There's a large portion of mothers who suffer from the cognitive dissonance after having a child between what they expect to happen and what does happen. They expect to be "connected" to the child in some magical way, and then become depressed (sometimes suicidally so) when they aren't.

      In the same line of thought, men aren't "naturally" better at problem solving. No, before you put up the old "But men can manipulate complex objects in 3-D space better than women!" argument, stop. That's NOT problem solving. That's spacial recognition. Problem solving is being able to use knowledge and techniques to remove obstacles while pursuing a goal. Neither gender does it better; it's very, very concretely proven to be unique to the individual and how they are raised/taught.

      I sincerely hope that you take the time to realize that what you're saying doesn't have any scientific basis (and boy has it been studied extensively). You are simply saying stuff you picked up along the way, and that's why jokes like these are such a threat. Some 8y.o. is going to see his dad laugh at this joke, and then when nobody says it's wrong, he thinks the joke was funny because it's true.

      That is why you have a few people going up in arms about this. The people who are saying, "oh, it's a joke – chill" are BANKING on that type of thinking NEVER affecting them. They are looking out solely for themselves and don't even pay much thought (or absolutely refuse to follow the train of thought) that ends with a young man believing the joke to be true because nobody told him otherwise and then treating his girlfriend/mother/sister/daughter like it was true. They don't want to go there because it's uncomfortable, or because they don't think it happens. So they laugh.

      Yeah man, it's a real funny joke until it happens to someone you care about. Then you wonder why people still laugh at it when it's ruined your life.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • BioHzrd420

      I understand what you say to a point. I do take a bit of offense to the "know your roles" argument. Let me see if I have paraphrased you correctly: you're saying we women shouldn't get all worked up because our role is doing the laundry (which we're good at), which isn't all that hard anymore so we we should suck it up. Do I have that right?

      Part of the of the offense of the tag is that it says pretty blatantly that our role is doing housework for men. Your initial argument was that we should know our roles in the household, be whatever they may. Do you not see then why a laundry tag that says give this to your woman to wash might be offensive because it basically tells me where my place is.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      MCM, while I appreciate the fact that you're an intelligent person, I am sad for you. You were apparently brought up without a sense of humor. If a little laundry tag is that threatening to you, I suggest you see a therapist right away for your inferiority complex.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. gfay

    Really people? Relax, learn to just enjoy life a while and stop searching for insults.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. stfu_nacy

    similar labels have been on skate & surf clothes for YEARS here in the States. get over yourself.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • J

      I thought the same thing – this is an old bit that has been around for years. Thank goodness we have something else to be outraged about.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Astronidas

    I don't see what's wrong with it. Can't they express their own opinion? 🙂 Maybe if women want to be treated like men, they should act like them. Suck it up.

    Oh yeah... women are complainers by nature... i almost forgot....

    March 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • sharon

      And you're a mysoginist whose post is worse than the original issue.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Sharon, you're only proving his point. The world doesn't revolve around your feeling offended or not.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
  13. Slewatha

    Oh the outrage!

    March 7, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sockpuppet

    come on girls, don't get your panties in a bunch–it will be that much harder to wash them

    March 7, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. brielle

    um okay so i don't get why people think this is funny, if you think about it, and looked threw history books and understood everything (which apparently most people think they do when they obviously don't) then you would understand why certain people (girls) are upset over this. you never know if a girl finds this offensive because thats baseically how she is treated. to do nothing but clean, cook, do laundry, and take care of the kids. so dont hate on people who dont think this is funny. be more mature.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • J

      I believe you mean "through" not "threw". There are additional grammatical and punctuation errors in your comment.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      It's too bad our education system doesn't teach what having a sense of humor means. Yep, back in the day women were secondary to men. Is th

      March 8, 2012 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
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