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. Ted Ward

    Finally, proper laundering directions!! They should put this on all bras, spanx, and panties!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    It's still a funny label.

    So much ado about nothing.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Arn

    As a man who does his own laundry, I find this offensive!

    Kidding. People need to find something more worth while to get offended about...

    March 7, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Erik

    All that social progress of the past few decades, and now a clothing label sends us back to the Dark Ages. Guess we'll have to start all over now.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. redneck101

    Who cares? So what? Can we discuss something that matters?

    March 7, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. A

    Hipster gone wrong.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Melissa

    Would it be cool to find a tag that insults men or children?

    March 7, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve


      March 7, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • he111

      Watch half the commercials on t.v where the dad is a raving idiot while the mom and kids roll thier eyes and insult him. Get over it.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dave

    >>"If we had noticed the label the items would never of been put in our stores." Great, they speak English, too! Not.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mitch

    Meanwhile....Syria is in a bloody civil war, Iran almost has the bomb, Putin is rattling sabers (again), gas is above $4 and rising (again, again)...but! we need to get upset about pants!

    March 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rick

    Anybody who would get up in arms about this has way to much time on their hands. At least enough time that would be better spent doing laundry and cleaning house.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Allen

    How about we replace this story with one on the hypocrisy of David Axexrod continuing to complain about Limbaugh's stupid comments as he prepares to go on Misogynist Maher's show.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      I guess you haven't read the article about how Bill Maher has come out in support of Rush Limbaugh. Birds of a feather flock together.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MalcolmXcrement

    That's funny right there. I don't care who you are, that's funny right there...

    March 7, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rooster Cogburn

    Sounds like "his woman" was doing the job, without reading the label...

    March 7, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amom

      Exactly! The tag only stated the obvious. Ever let a guy wash your sweaters? If so, bet it only happened once. Or...Perhaps it is a conspiricy? Goes like this...guys meet together secretly and tell each other things like, overload the washer, mix the colors and the whites, forget the fabric softener, and think of the dryer as an oven–the hotter the better, a real man burns clothes. The person who came up w/ this tag was just trying to "go green" by saving all the guys a trip to those secret meetings.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. Kim

    love the tag – love that it made me laff – love that it riled up people that should prolly learn to laff more – love the fact that i was actually able o take the time to jot a comment 🙂

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

    So why was she "tidying up" and not her boyfriend? Why did she assume it was her job? Some feminist.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • PurtyGurty

      By doing his laundry, wasn't she reinforcing the stereotype she's fighting?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
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