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. gopal kp

    the sky wont fall if men do the laundry. treat your wife as partner,not a washingmachine

    March 8, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. Stephen Lonewolf

    Empire mentality – here we go , again.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. John

    There are just some household jobs women ARE "better" at! Laundry doing is one of them! Ask any man that has ever attempted to do the laundry, and then get CORRECTED by the lady of the house! I would say the same thing about cooking, but men tend to prevail at that!

    March 8, 2012 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lee

    "Barnett tweeted an image of the tag on Monday, prompting an immediate outcry on social media and demands to out the company, Madhouse."

    So, you could talk about the social media angle. Or you could, you know, do some actual reporting.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  5. DasReboot

    operative word is *OR*. Say, it's either her job or it's your own damn dirty laundry! 😛

    March 8, 2012 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. Charlie

    HAHAHA so hilarious! I hope the instruction label to my Pop Tarts say the same soon.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. Panties

    That is hilarious. I love it.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. PorkNBeans

    And after she's done, make me a sandwich.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  9. edward

    who cares, the label is in the inside where noone sees it. She saw it cause she was doing the laundry. if you don't like it then don't buy the brand, simple as that. I find it funny that women getting worked up over it. How long as this company been in business and you just now saw it. really drop it already. reaching for a story thats a non-issue and just want to gripe. yes your ass looks big in those jeans now what. I lied earlier saying it looks good. there now you have a gripe.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. Calbrent

    I believe that families would be stronger if there was a stay at home parent, doesn't matter which one. If my wife made more than me I'd stay home and do household chores, happily.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. craig

    This lady and some of you are making a huge deal out of nothing, literally if you are offended by a tag inside of a pair of pants your a moron, worry about real problems, 33 pages of comments later and you clowns are bickering about something that really doesn't matter. if this offends you why don't some of you ladies go try and drive a car in any islamic country

    March 8, 2012 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. jcainlas

    Reminds me of a jacket label during the Dubya administration with the usual instructions warning against bleaching, machine drying, and ironing, etc. Then below after the same warning in French were the following words: "Nous sommes desoles que notre president soit un idiot. Nous n'avons pas vote pour lui." Translation: We are sorry that our president is such an idiot. We did not vote for him.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  13. Sean D

    Seriously... Have you seen what men do when they do they laundry? This wasn't meant as an insult to women it was meant as a warning to men. : )

    March 8, 2012 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. thinkagain

    Hey...who said there is no dignity in women doing laundry. Any job can be done with dignity. I think it is really funny...at the end of the day if they probably give us statistics WE THE WOMEN are better at doing laundry anyway.What is wrong with people, do they not remember the fresh sent of their mom's laundry anyway?

    March 8, 2012 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
  15. Heroicslug

    I'd buy a product solely because of this tag, assuming it was of average to good quality.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
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