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. Songbird

    What a brainless thing to say! Let's label all husbands as unfeeling, cheating slobs to justify making all wives into unfeeling, cheating slobs, too. Just as bad and brainless as labeling all women as "laundress". Let's stop taking single incedents (like reading a clothes label in your boyfriends pants) to apply broad generalizations to ALL.. of anything. Labels, stereotypes, whatever you call them, have caused and continue to cause most of the conflict in our world. Let's stop using them, one INDIVIDUAL (not member of stereotyped group) at a time.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JudyB

    Just as long as people don't start believe that the way things were in the past should come back again. In my house if you wear it you wash it. I'm not anyones slave. I dont' think it's funny at all. People used to live that ignorant way of life. I for one never want to see it for me or my daughters.

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

    My woman is my mama. After if give her my pants to wash, I say..."Get in the kitchen and make me some pie!!!"

    March 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. LOL

    I find it a bit amusing that the this lady is offended by a label saying she should do exactly what she was doing when she found the label...

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

    should have read " OR give it to your woman, after she cooks dinner and etc" no humor left in this world? its called free speach, quit being so touchy and dont forget to add antiallergic (free of dyes and perfume) i have sensitive skin thanks

    March 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • MASSA

      Well, it's certainly humorous when you misspell SPEECH!

      March 7, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daisy Chang

      Actually, it's called "free speech". But then, grammar is clearly not your strong point. It must be your piercing commentary.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doris

      Its also "hypo-allergenic" not antiallergic. But even still. Your funny dude!

      March 8, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. IronySpotter

    I love the Irony. She is outraged by the label. Yet she only noticed it when she "Picked up his pants while CLEANING THE HOUSE !!!"

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

      LOL

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

      I have seen this label a long time ago, in 2006 it read 'or, give it to your wife, it's her job'.
      I laughed me big behind off when I read it but never imagined someone would actually use it in a pair of trousers.
      Where is that store? I need to go there.

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

    Love it. Without humour this world would be a boring place. All the PC people need to lighten up. No feelings were meant to be harmed with this statement. The views expressed here are not condoned by my service provider. Maybe every joke needs to have a disclaimer.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BS!

    "Cheer" is what you had b4 declaring laundry was your wife's job.

    "Tide" is what's coming in to pummel you when you declare your point of view!

    "Whisk", is your wife getting whisked away by a decent man who knows chores are a couple's duty not the wife's duty!

    "Snuggles" will be the nick name of her new man after she dumps you!

    "Downey" will be the direction of your life after your wife has left you for being an idiot!

    Why does CNN keep removing this post? Its not vulgar, or offensive, or dirty. What's the problem?

    March 7, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • AKHLK

      Love it!

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

      it is great, love it.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • clarke

      I think its funny and I am a women.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doris

      Best thing I've seen on here tonight! Love it!

      March 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. B

    I thought it was funny, and I'm a chick. Jesus on a pogo stick, people. It's the UK. Their humor is like that. You want to see real degrading behavior towards women? Venture outside a first world country and see what happens to you. Or, vote for one of these idiots running under the GOP ticket.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheBob

      If Santorum gets elected we're talking Islamic Republic of America.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • A woman, not a chick, not if we have a say

      A woman who self describes as a "chick"? Scary! And, American women are not more liberated or more free than women in the rest of the world. Not true; never been.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brenda

    I think we have more important things going on in the world then this label. I find it humorous/sad that so many think it's a big deal.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. HockeyMan

    I'll be buying at least 3 pairs. Don't worry ladies I'll still wash them, I don't let anyone do my laundry. Nobody can do it as well as I can.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fish

      I'm assuming that philosophy applies to a lot more than laundry...... if you know what I mean.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. McGuffin

    Some people have no sense of humor. It's so patently ridiculous that it gets a bigger laugh because of it, not because anybody would actually look at it and agree, "Hmm, yes, laundry is only for women. Thank you, pants label, for teaching me that."

    March 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sharp

    No sense of humor. Political correctness will be the end of us. This is different than the controversy over Rush Limberger's offensive comments. Making a big deal of this is like crying wolf. It takes away from real complaints.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. lolz

    haha notice it was a woman that noticed the label.. guys don't read that ish

    March 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Elizabeth

    The first thing I noted on the label is "100% cotton". That would get them thrown directly in the trash. Cotton wrinkles. I don't iron and since hubby doesn't either, we simply don't own anything that requires it. Problem solved.

    Can I get a label that says "It's your man's job" for every piece of lawn upkeep equipment I own?

    March 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
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