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. smartaz

    I saw the same instruction on my box of condoms.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. funny

    where you located at baby

    March 7, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Candi

      at the LAAAUUNDRY MAAAT. :'(

      March 7, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaryG

      Candi – who's at the Laundromat? The ladies!!

      March 7, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • squawks

      My Dad operated a laundromat, and in addition to fixing the washers; he provided washing and drying service. A reason: people, both men and women, cram their washers where nothing gets clean AND damage the machines.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • joanie

      Is this a CANDI I know????

      March 7, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • corvally22

      Dear Illiterate –
      There are so many things wrong with this reply. "Where you located" and "at"...seriously?!!! Did you go to school and get a diploma? You might want to revisit grammar 101. This label isn't funny or a "mistake" or "oversight" and I'm sure the PR people and the company are loving the publicity.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
    • celmira9

      If we start asking readers here to go back to grammar school then we will have to address anchormen and women who perennially repeat it had to be done all "over again", where is it at, etc. They do it every day.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
    • J R Brown

      lol. I especially like to hear allegedly intelligent people say or write..."how come?"

      It's like a big red R on your forehead so people can see it and know you're a retrad without having to listen to you any more than necessary.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • MY 2 Cents

      You are absolutely correct.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ronnie

      Why you be givin a black guy a hard time about his language..LOL

      March 8, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Vee

      Why is his grammer so important to you? Weirdo.....You must have nothing better to do than sit on blogs and correct people's spelling and grammer.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • WhatUSee

      ...or "grammar"....

      March 8, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      Aren't you ashamed of yourself if i tell you that I speak better English and I was not raised in USA or UK? I'm much better at YOUR language than you, who undoubtedly consider yourself patriotic. LOL.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • scue

      Vee – It's 'grammar'.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      You know you misspelled grammar right?

      March 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Really???? Did you not see his user name?????

      March 8, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      he was just axing a question.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      Lighten up, he was just axing a question.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • KS

      your about to forget that there going to be mad at you criticizing there grammar.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Nana

      This is the first intelligent comment I have read thus far! lol

      March 8, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • sumday

      I disagree- the entire purpose of grammar is to convey a though to another person. If the other person can understand what is being said even with grammar and spelling errors than the ENTIRE purpose of grammar is accomplished. So long as the reader knows what is being said it does not make any diff if I write there, or their bc a normal human knows the which one is being referred to, now a computer would be confused if you didn't follow strict grammar rules but this little 3.5 brain of ours is capable of understanding grammar and spelling mistakes, so I find grammar and spelling comment for the most part meaningless and made by people who want to make a point about nothing. Also I find this tag extremely funny and am looking online to order a pair of them.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      You forgot to put a comma before the conjunction "and." So apparently you need to take a refresher class yourself:) And it is funny.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • dogs rule

      You are so NOT funny....... also grammatically challenged.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:37 am | Report abuse |
    • mn_test347

      ... and of course "You are so not funny" is grammatically correct.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  3. Closing the barn door after the horse is out

    "There was never any intention to offend.. " Baloney. There was a CLEAR intention to offend. Saying that there wasn't after you've been outed doesn't change the facts of the matter.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      I doubt there was any intention to offend. They just thought people would find it funny. They didn't count on people like you who enjoy being miserable.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Thanos3784

    Its funny, laugh and move on with your lives people.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. pUCKLES

    This label is totally degrading to women. It is sad how many women think this is a joke and it funny. They would not think it was so funny if they had their voting rights taken away from them, or they were not allowed to drive a car, own property etc, etc like was the case not too long ago in this country.

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

      Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

      Quick call the whambulance!

      March 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      It's sad to see so many uptight people with no sense of humor threatened by a little laundry tag. I don't think you have to worry about being the little housewifey stuck doing your man's laundry, because no man will be able to stand you.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. Patricia

    The tag is juvenile at best. The company is lame for trying to deny they knew what was going on. So lame.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ashley

    Great way to alienate your potential female clientele. Insignificant, sarcastic piece of inconvenience. I, for one, have better things to do without being mandated to wash "my man's" jeans. If it's MY idea, that's one thing. If I'm being told it's my
    job, buy a washer or get a new lady. Whatever.

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

      I'm with you, but I think men are even beyond that by now (souther states excluded) most men are self-sufficient- unlike my grandparents; stereotypes are usually ignored these days.

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

      Or you could just get a sense of humor and not be threatened by a harmless little laundry tag.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  8. Patricia

    My husband would have to put those pants back; he does the laundry... I'm too busy.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kris Wood


    March 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Khrystyna

    Women are overreacting for no reason, man just being man. One way joke, which is unfair. Everybody knows their jobs, but would be nicer if we could keep some dignity.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Teresa

    Oh come on...It WAS funny! It's not offensive to me and I am a woman...guess the difference is in the confidence one has...or doesn't. Lighten up people!!

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

      Exactly, thank you for having a sense of humor

      March 8, 2012 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. ReneeS

    I might find this a bit funnier if it wasn't still true in SO many countries. You didn't know the label was there? Right. Someone knew. Fire them.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DS

    Its on a pair of mens Jeans and men find it funny, Women , well of course they dont, Thats life, But its funny!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. HockeyMan

    Absolutely brilliant.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Know your role

    What do you say to a woman with two black eyes? Nothing... you already told her twice!

    March 7, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      What do you say to a man who says, "What do you say to a woman with two black eyes? Nothing... you already told her twice!"? PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK. YOU ARE UNDER ARREST.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
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