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. David

    Funny. Wait...............yah, FUNNY! Take a joke people. A label on a pair of pants will NOT force you to be someone you don't want to be, nor will it "brainwash" others into something they don't either..........yah, FUNNY!

    March 7, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Heather

    Role Model clothing's labels all completely skipped the washing instructions, and simply read "If you do not know how to wash this shirt, give it to your mom" I thought it was clever and funny. This is very similar, and seems to have been meant as a joke.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nicole Chardenet

    Rick Santorum? Rush Limbaugh? Newt Gingrich? Have you gone into the men's clothing business?!?

    March 7, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. happy

    EXACTLY , CAN'T TAKE A JOKE THEN DON'T BUY THEM

    March 7, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Seth B

    I love it – women complain about a label, which is funny by the way, and expect to be treated as equals. However, they are not, at least in the eyes of the law. Regarding child support and custody – women will be awarded custody of children unless they are junkies, in which case they will still be awarded primary custody if they are in rehab. They cause most of the vehicle accidents, with their texting, though they pay less in car insurance, because they cause less damage in accidents. They are irrational during most times, yet want jobs where they make important decisions. Bottom line, things were better in the 1950's.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • AW

      You don't have a woman in your life, do you?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Killian

      Well aren't we a real piece of work?
      Disregarding the all of your statements are rather subject opinion than factual data, let’s consider the two hundred thousand years of many patriarchal societies, and let’s not forget to discuss those few hundred years of violent male dominance and ultimately their stupidity which drives them to try and suppress females rather than be equals to them. Or we could discuss the various matriarchal societies with little known violence, civil and social development beyond their time, and of course, economic priorities to utilize their resources. But no, you'd prefer to discuss the 1950's where social development was so behind that appearance was more important than education and Blacks were disregarded as second class, because capitalism, superficiality, and Campbell’s is clearly the more moral lifestyle. Yes, this era was so clearly the most superior choice..

      March 7, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • chicago7

      Males get into most of the traffic accidents, from age 17 to 90. I worked in insurance for years, and that's just where the data goes. Sorry. You know, instead of throwing unsubstantiated nonsense around, you should be working on getting out of your mother's basement and finding a girlfriend, mister 40-year-old virgin.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. edvhou812

    Put out a lawnmower that says, "Make him get off the couch and cut the grass" and we'll call it even.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tim

    So what you're saying is the British are very blunt?

    You don't say....

    March 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ben

    Soooo good.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Annie

    I give them to my woman too!.......only I have to pay her. Actually, I think it is funny.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. wavejump1100

    how about printing " have your husband take it out" on garbage bags

    March 7, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Columbia City

    While reading this article, I noticed that Ms. Barnett discovered the label, while in the act of picking up after her boyfriend. Perhaps the Label should have read. "put pants back on floor and tell that man of yours to pick up after himself."

    March 7, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LOLITA2

    Sure!... Give it to me.... and I'lll burn it in a second!... Dear.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dave

    Or give it to your woman
    because you will just screw it up.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. pazke

    It's kinda funny. I'm not offended by it, but I sort of feel like I should be. Not sure about the company claiming they didnt know, though. That seems like a load of...

    March 7, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. iheartyou

    Oh come on – this is ridiculous. It's a funny joke, that's all. If women really want to get upset about something then they should be upset at every sing laundry detergent and house cleaning ad that makes men look like complete noobs while the women clean up their messes, and fix their dinner, and gets those tough stains out of laundry, etc. etc. etc. Those ads are insulting to both men and women and nobody is saying anything about that. But a joke label on a brand of jeans no one has ever heard causes an uproar...??? Good grief.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      I've thought they are demeaning to men and women for years. The advertising industry has a lot to answer for, but I don't expect the media to challenge the goose that lays the golden eggs any time soon.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
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