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. mdn

    If it's not a woman's job, then why do most pants get washed by women?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      That's like saying if it's not a Mexican's job, then why do most lawns get mowed by Mexicans? You should see the overt racism there. If you don't, perhaps you should do us all a favor and stop posting on the internet.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sofa King

      If it's not a Muslim's job, why do most bombs get set by Muslims?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      @sofa king – if it's a muslim's job to be terrorist, how come americans are the biggest terrorists on the planet?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yendi

      Maybe you should ask your Mommy that when she picks you up from school today...or does she simply find you living in her basement?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    And I didn't have anything to say about John's post, because I didn't get past the hypocirte part.
    But the label is still hilarious.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. phearis

    Does nobody have a sense of humor anymore? Give me a break guys, lighten up.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      I dunno, the last time I checked my job was an IT manager at a major corporation. Don't see how this is funny.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      don't nobody speak english no more?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      I think it's hilarious. In fact it's the funniest thing I've seen all day. You damn well know if you don't want to do your mans laundry, don't do it. This is not forcing you to do anything. Like I said, HILARIOUS!!!!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • matt

      well, Katie, it's a good thing a sense of humor isn't required to be an IT manager. this is coming from a husband that does his own laundry because i don't like the way my wife folds it

      March 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Katie, what corporation do you work for? I'm in IT as well and I want to make sure I don't apply for a job with your company. I'm guessing you suck to work for or with since you lack a sense of humor. If you were a Cisco switch, you'd use static routes instead of a protocol.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. Fred Flintstone

    The label is right. Laundry is a woman's job. But what are pants?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alex Chusky

    I am a (married) guy and wash my own pants but I liked the JOKE!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dave

    Its a joke people.......Relax..

    March 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Josh

    "Your woman" could also be a poor translation for "maid" or "housekeeper".

    March 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sofa King

      Seeing that the pants were probably manufactured in Thailand or Bangladesh – you might be right!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jason

    This made me laugh pretty hard.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bleach power!

      Probably more like a soft giggle.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob

    Sometimes I vacuum while my wife mows the lawn. Gender specific tasks are a thing of the past. It's been said a male with a vacuum is an aphrodisiac. You might want to try it, works for me.. 😉

    March 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Powerlifter165

      Never worked for me, neither did making diner or doing the dishes...

      March 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      @Powerlifter, it's probably your perspective that doing things you should be doing anyway should in some way earn you a reward.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Alyssa, I agree. From now on, my wife is completely responsible for herself. She can't have any of my paycheck.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    Free advertisement... brilliant

    March 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mecatfish

    Why is it her job? Because if she didnt wash them, they would never get washed. Worn a few times and tossed out. Just buy more, its easier. She washes my pants and im not supposed to be offended by the fact that she is taking away my right to be a slob...The tag should have said "hide these from your wife"

    March 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. daw

    That label should probably have read "give it to your mom".

    March 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Frank

    Just shut up and do the laundry. And don't put starch in the shorts. It's woman's work.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. AngelaD

    I think it is funny and absolutely no reason to be outraged.
    Now I am all for women's rights and the progress that was made in the last 50-100 years. But maybe the traditional family did serve some purposes. We should look critically at what is going on in todays society. I do not mean religious or moral dogmas. I mean the usefulness of a functioning family structure without early childhood centers, divorced or single parents, after school care, old people's nursing homes etc. We would be better off as a society if our families would function as such.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      Families should function as such, but there absolutely zero reason for a woman to be relegated to domestic housekeeping roles in the family. Men are equally capable of doing laundry. Women are equally capable of mowing the lawn. The problems with the family stem not from women wanting to cast of domestic responsibility, but from men being repellent to it.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      Maybe religious and moral "dogmas" developed out of recognition that *gasp* a purpose is served by a family?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      alyssa: "The problems with the family stem not from women wanting to cast of domestic responsibility, but from men being repellent to it."

      How ironic. You complain about s-ex-ist stereotypes and then you conclude with a s-ex-ist stereotype of your own.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Powerlifter165

      Most Asian countries do have this type of society and well they are kicking our a$$es in everything from education to manufacturing.... you may be on to something.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Alyssa. If you want your whites to be pink, by all means have your husband do laundry 🙂

      March 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kayla

    I am a woman, and I think this is hilarious! its a cut down to men not women. I read it as men aren't smart enough to figure out what can and can't be used. Give it to your woman, she knows what to do! Very funny 🙂

    March 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      It would be funny (maybe) if they didn't put "It's her job" at the end. That's implying that we're all born housekeepers and that's our only purpose in life.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kayla

      I agree, the "its her job" should have been left off. But I still find it funny. I do most of the laundry. But my boyfriend does his. We don't live together. But I would rather do even his... that way I know his little boys clothes are washed correctly, and folded and put up properly. Maybe its just a southern thing.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      Me thinks Kayla has a shiny ring in her future 😉

      March 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kayla

      ahh I wish that were true... but unfortunately not even close!

      March 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      I can't believe women still fall for this one.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
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