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. Dave836

    As a sandwich lover, I find this offensive 😛

    March 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BigD

    They better not replace instructions on mouse traps with the words, "Give to Your Husband, he will know how to set it"

    March 7, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nando

    Ha! Do my laundry and make me a damn sammich!

    March 7, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Fiona

    Irony not lost on me that it was a woman picking up after her sloppy boyfriend who noticed the label.

    The company should be boycotted. Oh, excuse me, I have to remind my husband to wash the dishes.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BigBadBlackMambo so I take it I won't be seeing "wifebeater" brand A shirts from Fruit O' the Loom?

    March 7, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      This is news worthy?

      March 7, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tyler

    This is funny. If this makes anyone mad then lighten up. People take stuff too seriously. *Yell's at girlfriend to make a sandwich.*

    March 7, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SarahJay

    lmao I thought this was hilarious. I would buy my boyfriend these pants BECAUSE of the label. The only people that would take offense to this are overly sensitive ninnys that aren't confident with their place or lot in life, or extreme conservatives that you can't say BOO to without offending. Now if it said "beat a woman into submission with these pants" lol ok. id get the controversy.

    But honestly? C'mon. Take a joke people. Learn to laugh at yourself and the 'roles' that society puts on certain things. Allow some satire in your life

    March 7, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Laser Sharp

    Take a job people.....

    March 7, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alex

    Taking themselves for Benneton, are they? I think the Queen would NOT be amused–she and Queen Victoria have outperformed...and many men!

    (It's always the lady of the house who has to keep things going when times get tough, isn't it?)

    March 7, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. lucky2222

    That is too funny. If it insults you, don't buy the pants but personally I would buy them just because of the label.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kurtis

    It's a funny label that anyone with a sense of humor, man woman-alike would laugh at....My wife and I joke about each other with this kind of stuff cuz I'm a stay-at-home dad. PEOPLE ARE SO PATHETICALLY SENSITIVE TO EVERYTHING nowadays. It's just stupid. CNN is stupid too for putting this on the news and making more people join the world of over sensitized dumb people.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Muchado

    I didn't see the "It's her job" Part.

    Aight, that's a fair point then.

    First time I saw this I only saw "Give it to your woman" which I couldn't figure out how it was offensive.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. IH8Taliban

    I want a pair.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tom in San Diego

    I asked my wife of 25 years to read this on my computer...She HIT me upside the head! LoL....

    March 7, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. xatamath

    hasn't the world figured out it has way more important things to spend it's time and energy worrying about yet? funny label

    March 7, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
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