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. Teacher1

    I get it–they have to put that label in like that because men aren't smart enough to understand the pictures!
    Definitely must have been made by a woman in some sweat-shop who knew women would be able to understand the directions! Way to go! 🙂

    March 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Required

    Bet you're not getting any

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

      Objection! Relevance?? Or is that your standard answer to females when you can't understand the issue at hand?

      March 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MrSensitive

    That is offensive! Why should a man give his clothes to his "Woman" when there are so many good Chinese that could launder them instead?

    March 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guester

      Some Chinese are women I've found.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • OJ

      What I find funnier than the label is the amount of people who are getting offended by this! My wife is absolutely better at the laundry, or shall I say pickier, than I am. 10 to 1 says the women are much better at this than men. And as for everyone with their knickers up in a bunch, how pathetic are you and immature that you would be really be mortally wounded by this? I could never associate with someone so stupid and nuts about something like this. And no one else could for that matter. There are people dying all over the world from horrible things, lets see you focus on that instead and let a little humor help us in this sometimes terrible world.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bolaji09

    May be more importantly, Madhouse Twitter-person should work on the mastery of the English language. Says he/she, "If we had noticed the label the items would never of been put in our stores..." The illiterate mix-up of "have" and "of" gets me screaming!

    March 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • sockpuppet

      apparently they aren't good at proofing their goods OR their twitter feed

      March 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dark Skies

      FAIL: 'May be'....Try 'Maybe'. English is not your strong suit.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Guester

    I think it's funny. If the label was on a lawn mower and said 'give to your man it's his job' most women would love it. Same diff.

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

      Agreed! Whats wrong with humor and traditional roles?

      March 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • James.Storm

      100% correct

      March 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Get Over It

    I love it! Now get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich!

    March 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • jj

      And bring me a beer!

      March 7, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sam

    Sure, you can pass your dirty pants on to your "woman"–as long as you're prepared to face the fact that "your woman" is going to be your MOTHER.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • James.Storm

      Well Sam apparently you don't wear the pants in your family. What woman complains about doing laundry? ill tell ya... a crappy one. It's been this way ever since day 1 why try and change it now? Sure we help and sometimes even do better.. but 9 out of 10 times the woman can do it faster and better

      March 8, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dark Skies

    All of you people are missing the 'Deeper' subliminal, sub-text. It is really a psychological saxual Freudian slip inferring 'Give It To Your Woman'. She will thank you for putting her in a good mood in bed and will gladly wash your pants. Think of it as an 'Aphrodisiac', a 'Warm Up', a 'Reminder to Love Your Woman'.

    Every time 'Your Woman' sees the label, it will get her juices flowing thinking of how much love and affection and attention she will be getting real soon from you. Brilliant marketing strategy. It is hidden from public view, to be seen by your loved one only, not some tasteless wife beater Tee-shirt that shouts to the world how low-life and crass you can be against women. This is 'A Good Thing', as Martha Stewart would say.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. KH

    I saw this years ago. It's just now getting noticed?

    March 7, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CommonSense

    This made me laugh out loud.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Victor

    How come this story from the U.K. is in the U.S. section of CNN.com? How come the top two stories in the U.S. section are about sports (Saints bounty and Peyton Manning)? Where do we go to get some actual news?

    March 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dave836

    Why should I give my laundry to my woman when she should be making me a sandwich?

    March 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • OJ

      Just a sandwhich? What about drawing a bath and then bringing you your pipe and slippers? Really, dont be so simple. Expect more than a sandwhich, unless its ham and brie on a croissant!

      March 7, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Teri

    I think it's funny.......and I'm a girl. I would actually buy a pair.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ComeOnMan9

    tell it!

    March 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cog in the wheel

    Heh, I've tried but I can't comment on this article with a straight face. Any press is good press, Madhouse! Kinda funny, it can't be taken seriously.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
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