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. Sully

    Hilarious! Great humor on that label.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. andy

    Women are sold in to slavery, murdered, denied the right to vote etc. every day all over the world but who cares, let's focus are attention on washing instructions inside a pair of jeans

    March 7, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Skrew Driver

    I love it! I will make those pants my primary brand.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Patrick

    I always did half the laundry and the dishes but my lady never went to the auto parts store to get brake pads for the car and then do a change out on those. What's the deal?

    March 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      Guys love their cars. Women hate all laundry.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Daisy Chang

    Would love to have seen the reaction if the label read "Give it to your mammy" or "Give it to your gay room mate". It's amazing how some people (women) are supposed to find so much humor in being demeaned.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      Perfect post.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Major Tom

    To all you ladies who are getting bent out of shape over this – listen honey bunch: when you start paying for dinners at fancy restaurants, nights out at the movies, vacations, cars and everything else we pay for, I will gladly starting doing the laundry. Until then, zip it and obey the label.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Queen Bee

      I feel sorry for any woman who may be in your life, cuz she obviously doesn't have one with a loser like you. lol

      March 7, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Oh Major Tom, the 21st century is going to come as such a shock to you.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Woman

      Silly boys crack me up.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      So glad my husband isn't like you. I'd kick you to the curb in a heart beat.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • the law

      amen to that... get over it and do your job woman

      March 7, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • crc

      Couldn't have said it better. It is so hilarious that this still riles up those over zealous women's libbers. I always like a good laugh. They need to get their claws out of the ceiling and have a good laugh to!

      March 7, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mojojuju

      "Honey bunch?" What are you, my grandpa?

      Ground control to Major Tom: If you're dating the kind of woman who demands all those things, and you don't like them, then find a woman who doesn't do that crap. I don't. Many of my friends don't.

      I've actually found men get insulted when I try to pay for their dinner and mean it as more than a token gesture. So part of this is perpetrated by the fellas, let's be fair.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walker

      Do you even know what a woman is? You certainly have a clear understanding of what a loser is!

      March 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Where's the beef?

      As long as you can deliver in the bedroom, we'll do your laundry, but I have serious doubts.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Lol major! Awfully misogynistic of you to assume that all of us ladies are sitting around at home waiting for our menfolk to buy us stuff and give us something to do i.e. laundry. Just so happens the majority of us are gainfully employed and paying our own way to movies, dinner, vacations, yes we even purchase for our own vehicles in these modern times. Sorry you hooked up with a gold digger but don't generalize your own mistakes to the rest of us... honey bunch...

      March 7, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gia

      Maj Tom,
      I doubt your blow up girlfriend will ever be able to pay for your dinner.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Natrldiver

      And from your response I guess you are single and have never had a steady relationship.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • retphxfire

      My, no one says you have to do all those things, either. Today woman are more than happy to share expenses. In just about every case where the tab is picked up by one it's the person who asks is the person who pays. Now, like in any 'community' there are gentlemen who pay because of the way they were raised and some do it because they wouldn't get a date, major. Then there are some women who think if someone want's their attention they must be wined and dined. Sounds like you are a bitter, little man.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. HankLion

    Great, they actually put in in a pair of trousers!
    So, she was cleaning the house, picking up his clothes behind him and reading the washing instructions. Why? Out of curiosity? Or because she was doing what the label said?

    March 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. cm

    HA! I think it is funny and I am a gal.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. luna167

    not saying much for the UK man though what with not being able to operate a household appliance and all.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. joe blow from cocomo

    Can't take the joke, don't buy them. Now go fix my dinner. "Pants' washing instructions read 'Give it to your woman'

    March 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jason S

    The label is so true. But it takes a special kind of lady to wash the poo stains out of your draws and you should thank her every few years or so.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Fashionmommie

    Uh yeah, as a person who works in the apparel industry and more specifically deals with care labels for a manufacturer, let me tell you these types of things don't just "happen". While I am not all bent out of shape about it, and actually find it quite funny that it did happen, I think Major Tom's needs to get to doing the laundry. Studies are showing these days that women are in fact outranking men in terms of salary due to the economic recession of the last couple of years eliminating all the high paying men.

    So, shall I buy you some Tide and give you some quarters for the machine "honey", cause I quite frankly make twice as much as my male peers that I work with, and am in a hiring ranking position than most of the men my age. In fact if not for myself my family wouldn't be able to pay the bills, and I know plenty of women in the apparel industry that have salaries that would surprise you.

    By the way, the spin cycle is calling your name.... 🙂

    March 7, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jmitch

    Since I have made it quite clear to my family laundry is not MY job I am able to see the other meaning...the label does imply one truth. There is a vast majority of men who are incapable of doing laundry properly, they need a woman to teach them.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Candi

    I think it's funny... I think it is funnier how the women get so upset over it.. WHY? I mean really!! Why get in a tizzy over a tag. Why get so offended over a tag? What would you do if your tag said "WASH ME LAST" but you need that garment right now but you have 3 loads to do before it !!! .

    March 7, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Candi, I think people, mostly of the female variety, are getting in a tizzy because we've been working a long time to obtain gender equality. It wasn't so long ago that women were considered too stupid to own property or vote. While we've come a long way since then, women are stil paid less then men for equal jobs and overall expected to maintain stereotypical gender roles in the home. While some may see this as a harmless joke, it hits a nerve for many professional women who have experienced gender discriminiation and see this as jokey way for the misogynistic community out there to try to keep women where they ought to be (in the home of course).

      March 7, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Rachel I'm sorry you don't have a sense of humor. Maybe if you stopped looking to be offended at every little thing and started trying to enjoy life, you would appreciate what you do have. If you are threatened by a little clothing label, perhaps you should stop doing your mans laundry.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tired

    I think the company had better keep an eye on their business a little better. That being said, who ever put the label in the pants is probably smiling right now over the controversy. Seriously, I just wish I COULD get my hubby to do any laundry.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      Here's a tip. Stop washing his clothes and towels. If he leaves them around for more than a week waiting for you to do them, put them in a trash bag and leave it by the washer. If they are still there a week later, put them in the trash. When he runs out of clothes, he might get with the program.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
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