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. LC

    My son's wife does his laundry. She's a doctor – and he's COLORBLIND. He mixed reds and whites in the laundry and all his shirts were pink. He does all the vacuuming now instead!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cateyes7

      lol – this is why I also do the laundry.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harlon Katz

      BINGO! Same thing with my wife and me. In this case, she IS better qualified to do the laundry for that specific reason.

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

      You can't blame mixing reds and whites on colorblindness! Either he did it puposely, so that she wouldn't want him to do the laundry any more, or he's ignorant of how to do laundry. My husband is color blind too but he can still tell the difference between a light color like white and a dark color like red and knows not to put them in the same load!

      March 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. allen

    oh please, in america most women don't even know how to do laundry

    March 7, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Powerlifter165

      Nor do they know how to cook... H3ll my ex-wife didn't even work and I still did most of the house work.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Paul J

    Wow, if you seen some of the shirts women wear from time to time, mainly big fat crazy looking women. THere is such a double/triple standard in the world today, this is obv meant to be funny FOR MEN, stop crying.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      The fact that they think (perhaps correctly) that this would be funny for me in the disturbing part.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve T

      @Alyssa: thats why you're desirable, everyone needs a funny & disurbing partner...need a man?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sofa King

    These pants must have been meant to be sold in some Islamic country.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • blueclay

      actually part of the label was removed. it was supposed to say give it to your woman unless she is in the kitchen cooking.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sofa King

    What a coincidence. I've got a firestorm in my pants too.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mcgee

    YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING! Are we back in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • I wish

      Those were good times...

      March 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SEGway

    What it should have said was "Give it to your woman; she can follow instructions!"

    March 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cateyes7

      Ain't that the truth!

      March 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jay

    IIronic that she discovered this while picking up her man's laundry off the floor and presumably reading the washing instructions so she could wash his pants for him...

    March 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • CDW

      hahahahaha! you are SO right and SO hilarious!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • whorutellin

      the world is becoming gayer and gayer by the year!!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stop whining

      @whorutellin...thanking you for sharing some wisdom. I'm glad some people still have sense about them. too many candy a$$es in today's world.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. squeekbo

    My husband won't let me do laundry anymore. It's faster to just dump everything in on cold, but he likes to sort them out for some reason.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gizmo

      Yeah, my wife is the same way. The only reason I don't do the laundry most of the time is that I work long hours, so not much of it would ever get done.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    Pretty good reply, fake me.

    I personally found this to be hilarious...but then I pick my battles a bit more wisely.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rick

    Give me a break... ITS A JOKE YOU STUPID MORONS... unbelievable sensetivity of people.. Some of them just need to go an phook themselves.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      Are you trying to differentiate between the stupid morons and the smart morons? Thanks for clarifying. I think we know which category you belong in, especially if you find humor in something like this.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      Katie ain't got no man, y0

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

      I agree with Rick. I find it hilarious and feel any woman that takes offense to this probably DOES have lacking in the intelligence department.

      If she was a strong, intelligent confident woman, she would have the ability to laugh at herself, and at the satire here that is being made on gender roles.

      Getting humor, and understanding humor, is definitely a sign of intelligence. If you don't think it's funny, fine. But id you get OFFENDED by it, then yes. I do believe you need to educate yourself more and find what is REALLY bothering you. Because if a label on a pair of pants bothers you this much, there is definitely a more serious, mental problem

      March 7, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Liza

    Well it is kind of cute, in any case I really don't give a damb. I have done the wash most of my life, where can I buy my husband a pair?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Todd C

    And now hundreds of thousands of people have heard of Madhouse pants that otherwise would not have. Probably the most successful marketing campaign in their history.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey

      I know – one wonders if Emily was not on their payroll?? Seriously it is hilarious and pokes fun at stereotyping (at least to me.) Lighten up people.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. t3chsupport

    BS apology is BS. They aren't sorry, they're sorry that someone was offended enough to put it on twitter and make everyone else mad about it. If they can let that kind of thing go out the door, I'd seriously question the quality of the overall product in any case.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      Are you talking about Rush Limbaugh or these pants?

      March 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Katie

    They didn't proofread their labels?? That's the worst coverup lie I've ever heard. It's not like they have some rogue misogynist in their manufacturing department who wants to show up his boss. They were trying to be funny but didn't get the memo that it's no longer 1950.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      Funny, the rest of us didn't get your memo informing us that certain humor is no longer allowed in your sanitized, PC-minded world. Don't think it's funny? Don't laugh, and don't by a pair of the pants. Everyone else can do as they please.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey

      Thanks Matthew. Me thinks Katie has a serious chip on her shoulder. I thought it was hilarious, and I may be one of the least domestic women you would ever meet.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamie Craig

      More likely they got the memo that Katie's a humourless shrill hag.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bleach power!

      I agree with Katie. No company makes that mistake. It's almost more shameful that they can't own up to it.
      Jamie Craig is not funny. He is an aggressive knuckle dragger. Go sit in a tree Jamie.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
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