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. Femenigma

    It reminds me of men's "Boxer" brand shorts. It said "change daily". I guess men need those kinds of instruction. The men in my family would never have brought those things to me with such expectations. It would end up they would be participating in a laundry 101 class with me. They'd rather read the instructions.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ruth

    Yes maybe it is not really funny it is a stupid thing to do. I however cannot believe how much people make of it. Big deal dont buy their clothing. Marketing will always push the edge that is how they stay in business... bet people who never knew about this will go out an buy one now!

    March 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Idon'tdolaundry

    all of these women that are complaining and got offended are the ones that don't do anything at home just shopping and wasting hubby money LOL. Now, go to do the laundry LOL

    March 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Matt

    What's the problem? That's exactly what they are supposed to be good for...we make a living, you clean house and clothes?

    March 7, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alicia

      The problem is that mst guys can't make a decent living, just too inept

      March 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • ready

      and women make even less, they must be more inept.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anthony

    Literally every day someone is offended by someone else, then forced to apologize from the media furor. When will someone stand up and say to stuck it up. Verbal and physical abuse hurts. This and alot of other things people are outraged by isn't abuse. Stop being sensitive and STUCK IT UP! God, society is repulsive.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nomad

    Man the human race is getting sooooo sensitive. So sensitive in fact, that people are offended by simple truth.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CSH

    What if they are gay men? As far as it being a womans job? I wouldn't mind staying home and doing "womens work" if I thought there was a man that was willing and able to be the sole bread winner, which I don't.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nomad

      The gay men will just take it to the dry cleaners eh!

      March 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • dlv323

      they will give it to the catcher, not pitcher, of the relationship.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Michael

    After the release of these pants the unemployment rate in the USA went down for women. Anyways, its just a joke nothing to take too seriously here.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TheBob

    I don't know. Sounds like damn good advice to me. When it comes to traditional roles, women seem to have no problem with "the man always pays", "the man always opens and holds the door open", "man is the provider and protector". But when it comes to laundry, all these same women suddenly get their panties in a bunch.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • G. Tritt

      Oh, gosh, Bob, still having that woman problem? Bless your heart...

      March 7, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheBob

      No, honey. No "woman problems" here. I do just fine, thank you very much. Interesting how you avoided the point of my comment, though.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      TheBob–I'm going to give you the same advice I give to women who are tired of doing their boyfriend's/husband's laundry. If you find it irksome, stop. They are perfectly capable of doing for themselves. If it irks you to pay for diner and the movies for your girlfriend or wife, stop.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PDXRains

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CAN WE NOT JOKE ABOUT ANYTHING ANYMORE??!! Don't people have anything better to do than get their panties in a bunch over trivial stuff like this?

    March 7, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • G. Tritt

      Sure, honey pie! Lookie up at Bob's response from me! That's a joke–and I heard YOURS was too!! (Now See??? I can make a joke, too, dahlin! Mmmmmmm-WAH!)

      March 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maya

      Yes, you can joke about it. And we can choose to point out that your joke is not funny and that you are an idiot for even making it. I think that's perfectly fair.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andres

    I think the label is quite helpful.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jon

    This tag has been around for a few years.... a little late on the draw there.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dlv323

    Does anybody else find it amusing and ironic that she found this while doing her "job"?

    March 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • t00n

      hahahah, that's great!

      March 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. FiveX

    That's stupid. Who keeps their washer and dryer in the kitchen?

    March 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Epic Fail Guy

    yes, her mans paintings are indeed a joke. no one would ever buy those things at any gallery showing. instead of getting that art degree he should have gotten it in something more lucrative, like poetry.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • James.Storm

      He could have just did the wash along with all the other chores while his wife relaxes by the pool with a picture of brad pitt and a french tickler

      March 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
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