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. dick

    Q: How much should a guy spend on a watch for his girlfriend/spouse? A: Nothing, there's a damn clock on the stove in the kitchen.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. g.r.r.

    The should have said:
    To turn it over to your woman.
    They are smarter.

    The odd thing is that so many are taking a dumb joke horribly.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Benny

    The tag is perfect, no excuses for a woman to not provide in the home and all the duties required. We all learned this from past generations. And @himey , its not neccessarily the change in child-rearing aspects to see the clear difference in childrens overall behavior , it is more than likely from 1995 and on children who are more likely to have had a drug addictted mother causing the outcome of children.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. joanie

    @ candi-what kind of soap are you using on HIS pants??

    March 8, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  5. treblemaker

    My wife won't let me do the laundry, no matter how much I try.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Barb

      I don't let my husband do laundry either... or load the dish washer!

      March 8, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. The Man's Man

    Everyone knows PROPERLY washing and drying different fabrics is scripted into the female DNA. And another thing - how many MEN do you know can make a neat bed? Now, how many WOMEN can do it? After all, that's why hotels across the world hire WOMEN to make customers' beds, and the men are hired to unplug the toilets and fix the leaky sinks. It's DNA. Get over it.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
    • J

      I know plenty of REAL MEN that can do laundry and make a neat bed. Actually I know about 220,000 of them. It is part of Marine Corps Recruit Training. I would DEFINITELY call them men REAL MEN!

      March 8, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  7. Daniel

    By far the funniest part is that she discovered the tag when she "picked up her boyfriend's pants while tidying the house".

    March 8, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      The real truth was, she was picking up his clothes to do the laundry.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
    • jayman419

      Yeah... that tickled me about as much as the tag itself.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bully


    I wish my wife would do the laundry.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. C Von

    Jezzzzzz lighten the &ˆ*()() up people! It was just a joke! The real story here is why the world can not tolerate anything outside the (un)acceptable PC"norm crap!

    March 8, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  10. Steven

    It is dismaying to see so many comments that suggest this issue is unimportant. Is the question of this label something to make a priority in today's world? Perhaps not, as many other issues confront us more prominently in today's Western and global world. However, women have fought long and hard against discrimination and prejudice all over the world, and the majority of women in the world still face obscene ignorance and violent & unjust discrimination. First-world countries need to remain vigilant against even the most subtle suggestions that inequality is acceptable or funny.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. DaveM

    I presume this is just another example of Asian Label Syndrome–or someone who speaks English in that Asian clothing factory has an odd sense of humor. It certainly should not be taken as commentary of any sort.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tortfeasor

    Boo hoo, get over it people. This is not an atrocity, or news for that matter...

    March 8, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  13. Don Jones

    Maybe they were insinuating that it's her job to wear the pants.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. Frostie

    Classic attention grabber. It only reinforces the fact that women have smaller feet, so they can stand closer to the washing machine and sink. As someone else said, it's in their DNA.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. Trent

    I read on MSN 10 Things that women do better than men. This makes #11 I guess.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
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