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. Nanette

    I find it really hard to believe that Madhouse did not know what that label said.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nestor B. Bocaya

    What is the big deal? Some women wash clothes for a living, some are CEO's of multinationals, some are Presidents.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maya

      Only a moron would think the label was talking about a housekeeper.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nouri Akli

      Objective Achieved: How to generate maximum publicity without paying for it! That's how you do it!

      March 7, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Elizabeth

    Haha... women are better at laundry for the most part and men do other things well. Chillax Gloria Steinman.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. HahnLilia

    my roomate's sister got paid $16531 the prior month. she is getting paid on the laptop and bought a $502000 home. All she did was get fortunate and apply the instructions revealed on this site CashBrave. çom

    March 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Thinks2010

    Do the (mostly) men and women saying that they do the laundry because their partner/spouse can't or doesn't know how to do it right actually believe that is actually the case? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. I hope you are washing that wool over your eyes in Woollite.

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

    If cleaning was ever woman's work, it is because most men out there are too inept or lazy to clean properly instead of cutting corners. How about you stop expecting us to do things just because you suck at them?

    March 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • countrycook

      I enjoy taking care of my husband and family. By the way this year is our thirty-fourth year together. Maybe ladies if you would be kinder and did more nice things for your husband your relationship would last too.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Token Square

      Wow, one ugly stereotype used to respond to another ugly stereotype. You're the pot calling the kettle black. Yuck!

      March 7, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. countrycook

    so ? we ladies do most of the laundry so what's the big deal

    March 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Ladies, listen to countrycook! Be kind and do nice things and you will be treated like a queen as I'm sure she is. Be nasty and mean and you will have a man that avoids you.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Woman

      It is a big deal because some women do not want their sole ambitions to be washing clothes. Some of us want to get out in the world and make a better living than men. That's exactly why I'm going to college and going to grad school. I'm all for washing clothes but my boyfriend does it too. We have a pretty egalitarian arrangement. Guess what he also cleans and cooks, just as much as I do. That's a real man if I ever saw one 🙂 So get off your high horse men. Quit living in the 50's.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      @David– I'm sure a lot of queens do other people's laundry. Off with your head!

      March 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaryG

      Male or Female – Laundry Happens – SOMEONE has to do it!! My Laundromat has LADIES!! So I'm giving mine to THEM!!

      March 7, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      Woman, countrycook didn't say that doing her husband's laundry was her "ambition." It's a show of affection and caring, to actually "want" to take care of something for someone else. The relationship only works with a sense of reciprocity, where both parties "want" to do things for the other. It's not an albatross that you have to wear around, and it's not the end all be all of her existence. Figure this out, or keep a divorce lawyer on speed dial.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Woman–learn to take a joke. The most important thing in a relationship is a sense of humor. Instead of acting like you are going to change the world by going to grad school, you should concentrate on learning to laugh. You're the one who's acting like you're living in the 50s and women are still stuck at home.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. krozar

    LOL @ that Easter Egg.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Slim_Sammy


    March 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Iluvatar

    LOL wow... it's a joke people... just brush it off, geez. Whatcha gonna do next, sue a guy for spilling your soda?

    Just quit it and pay attention to the more important issues, like babies being killed in "clinics" or men trying to marry each other.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. krozar

    It's time to defend the country and draft people into the war.


    March 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steve

    There's another brand out there called "enjoi". They are in the skateboard industry. Their inside care label says "dirty laundry keeps women busy".

    March 7, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. barbara

    And what was this woman doing reading the labels inside her boyfriend's pants, anyway? (looking for the washing instructions?) Who goes around reading the labels inside of other people's clothes?

    March 7, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • countrycook

      she's probably jealous and was snooping in his pockets.

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


    It's fun to bait the chronically offended.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Token Square

      Very well put!

      March 7, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dustin Rogers

    It's hilarious! I literally laughed for 5 minutes. I want to buy a pair now!

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