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. Sandy Toe

    It's funny!

    March 7, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. lol

    hahahhaahahaahaahahhahh and make me a sandwich

    March 7, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Matt

    at least she found it when she was cleaning

    March 7, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sammie

    I think this is too funny. I read the label to mean that the man reading the label was probably too dumb to be able to do his laundry correctly and that he would need to rely on the woman of the house to get it done right. Love the British humor ... it is so subtle ... and then it slaps you in the face.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rockin' Mama

    I think it's stupid. It would have been funnier if it read "Give it to your woman. You'll just screw it up."

    March 7, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      GREAT ONE!

      March 7, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • cdogg

      I'm glad to see that you have happily accepted your social role.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • cdogg

      BTW my wife loves your comment.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      I'm shocked to see all the women calling men stupid?

      March 7, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      That's not what it says and that's not what it means.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. louise

    My husband does his laundry from time to time, when things have piled up and I am behind, which I appreciate! He does sooooo much for me, things I don't want to or can't do. I have no problem doing the laundry and many other things that are considered 'women's work'. It all comes out in the wash, so to speak! Humor is what helps us get through the day and I'll take it wherever I can get it. I especially love it when it shows up in unexpected places, instructions in trousers!!

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

    Wash them with a red sweater. HAHAHAHA. Pink chinos!

    March 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WillH85

    Feminists proving once again that they have no sense of humor.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cory

    OKay I can understand how women would be upset because of the child labour used to make these types of clothes...oh wait women are upset at the laundry joke and not child labour/slavery...ohhh......disgusting

    March 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      Child labor in the UK ! Wow you have really uncovered the scoop of the century. And it makes perfect logical sense that women that find this stupid love child labor – Yeah. That makes sense.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bic

    "Give it to your woman. . .it's her job." An insult.
    "Give it to your woman. . .she does it better." The truth
    Now can you change my oil and satisfy me properly.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • top

      They can't even to that right.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. a woman

    Ok, this is just a good example of American media blowing up something from another country in order to control how you think PERIOD.

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

    Doesn't the world have more important things to worry about? I direct your attention the CNN world page, under Iran.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      I'd like to see if you'd still be laughing after doing your 3,200th load of laundry.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dylan

      I don't recall laughing. I just recall stating its relative unimportance and stupidity.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  13. top

    All these guys saying it's a womans job, or that a womans place is in the kitchen or whatever, show their mentality very well. Are you all so small that you have to say something like that to make you look big? All It does is show how low you're IQ is. Obviously if you knew how to wash clothes or cook a meal you would be doing it. When will men learn that women don't need them?

    March 7, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elsie


      March 7, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Looks like someone can't take a joke.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nice

      Very well said Top! One day the world will be a better place, especially when mostly women control it. Men #&*@! everyting up!

      March 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pauline Lugo

      I think women will always be attacked by stupid men with stupid comments because they are jealous of them. Men are becoming more like women anyways. Men are becoming gay so this label will also apply to their male partner since someone has to play the women at times. So back at you. Well, then... you have men who hate women out there because they have mommy issues. Women need to wake up and stop making men feel more powerful and start putting them in their place. They are good for nothing and glad most men are turning gay. They need to leave women alone and women need to leave men alone since men have lost their true purpose in life as they are all becoming selfish and bad to worst. So women you will be better off without these angry so called men. Let them do their own laundry and women who are married start being selfish and do more for yourself and stop giving men more power over you and us.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sleebiscuit

    It's a friggin' joke people. So many sensitive pansies in the world today, gawd!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      Oh ! It's a joke ! Ok. What's the punching bag? Oh. I mean. Punchline ? Very insidious

      March 7, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pauline

      Its not about this being a joke or people being sensitive. Women are always put down and always get stupid sarcastic remarks from stupid insecure men. LEAVE WOMEN ALONE and stop with the stupid comments about women should be in the kitchen or laundry is for them. WE ALL LOST OUR POSITION IN THIS WORLD. We are all free moral agents all on our own. No body owes anyone. Were do you see women making comments about men. NO where. Women need to stop being so nice to men and making them so secure in this world. They take advantage of us and think they can make any old comment about it as if we don't care. So its not about reacting its about how women will still never get respected because we need to start with ourselves.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Melissa and Pauline, try to find something in life to enjoy

      March 8, 2012 at 6:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. happy face

    As a woman I find the label kinds funny. I laughed when I saw it

    March 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
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