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. sameeker

    I doubt the authenticity of that picture. Of course, women are so weak that they think that they have to get everything in a divorce or they can't survive. They may as well take the laundry too.

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

    Shows how political correctness is everywhere. Everyone has to be offended by something.. and something as silly as this shouldnt be causing such a uproar of complaints. Just put your money where your mouth is folks.. Dont like it.. dont buy it. NOW SHUT UP!!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. LOLZ

    26 pages of comments? You women are lucky there are laptops you can take to the kitchen/laundryroom

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


      March 8, 2012 at 6:11 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lidfaslkjad

    I personally found this hilarious, and I'm a woman... People need to stop over reacting to things like this, it's just a freaking joke! Simmer down.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      Is it just me or when did laundry tags start containing jokes? Is this how Steve Martin started?

      March 7, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. woldtrav

    That is so funny, would love to buy a pair! Whom ever came up with this is a marketing genius!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. LC

    Have we COMPLETELY lost our sense of humor? Geez. I'm a woman, and I think this is really funny.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • silence

      I think it is funny too. We are not going back to a time when all we do is clean the house, so don't make a big deal about it.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kayla

      Thank you!!! I thought it was hilarious too! I'm glad to see that not all women have lost their sense of humor and aren't so uptight! Jeez, it was meant to be funny 🙂

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

    As a woman, I find this hysterical. It's meant to be a JOKE (and probably a marketing ploy that is working exceedingly well). Anyone who thinks they are serious needs to get a life.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. AnnE

    Oh I'd wash them..... in hot water and a lot of bleach!!

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

      why... her man didn't put the label in there. Youd really be "sticking it to em" if you demolished them AFTER he had already purchased them. Thats just stupid! Its funny. Get over it!

      March 7, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. double standard

    Quick question: How many guys out there would be upset if the instructions on a bottle of motor oil said, "Give it to your man; it's his job"? My thought is that number approaches 0. Probably would upset a few feminists though. Just goes to show you that there are certain people who's life is so sheltered and comfortable that they are just looking for reasons to be upset. It's a label on a pair of jeans people ... Hard to think of anything more insignificant

    March 7, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Whats funny is... She found the label because she was doing her job hahaha.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. atroy

    Funny....I don't know a woman whom I actually would trust to do my laundry correctly; their all concerned about eating chocolate and reading twilight.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      Ok I really shouldn't, but I did find this funny. I laughed out loud when I read it. Some June Cleaver chicks should listen up, they've been conditioned to be insulted and like it, and then they eat chocolate and read Twilight.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SciGuy

    It's funny; I'd buy a pair in a heartbeat. Or, rather, my wife would; she does the shopping and cooking as well as the laundry!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. thinkhere

    do your own friggin it!! what, you don't have the brains to figure out how to make the washing machine work?

    March 7, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitch

      We are smart enough to get the laundry done...we leave it lying around long enough and our woman finally gets sick of the stink and does it for us! Works every time!

      March 7, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pete

    Sounds like a marketing ploy that worked really really well. Women wouldn't be buying them anyways

    March 7, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Skolo

    Notice that a woman is the only one who read that crap on the label. Point proven....that's why women are good at that stuff. What are they complaining about?

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

    These jeans are now collector's items... watch for them to go for sale on eBay for 10x the list price. I want one!

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