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. mike

    Why is this even a story? It takes a group like Invisible Child to start a viral video to hear a story about genocide in Uganda, but crap like this gets on the front page of CNN?

    March 8, 2012 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. The G

    It's funny and everybody knows it. And I am female. Lighten up people!

    March 8, 2012 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. JBDarb

    "But that's what happened after British journalist Emma Barnett picked up her boyfriend's pants while tidying the house."
    That says it all. Hilarious!!

    March 8, 2012 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. Nitrogen

    Wow, that is really funny. Buuut yeah I agree, this should not be on a cleaning label, even if it's meant to be a joke. How boring that job must be. Writing labels for undergarments. Must have crap benefits.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Nicely done.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. John

    I got bored and didn't read the whole thing, somebody tell me. Did the chick do his pants or not?

    March 8, 2012 at 4:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      I'm glad someone is asking the important questions.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      Why was she picking up her boyfriend's pants; why didn't he pick up his own pants?

      March 8, 2012 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. Shannon

    I am a 43 year old married mom of two teenagers and I think this is hilarious! Why would people get so wrapped around the axle about something so silly? We have become so politically correct and sensitive that we have lost our sense of humor.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:11 am | Report abuse |
    • A-Rod

      I fail to see a problem with this. The first thing that came to my mind was that men were too dumb to do it right. Most of my clothing has very simple and directly laid out wash instructions and I'm usually asking questions when it fails to have those and just has the laundry symbols. My old washing machine taught me what those symbols meant, but I have since forgotten.

      That being said, I believe those symbols could reduce label size on fancy garments, beside that a fail to see why you can't print a sentence out on your label instructing how to wash properly.

      Anyway, @ people who take the time to get annoyed at a piece of laundry: Find something more constructive to do. The world needs your criticism.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Jill

      Go A-Rod!

      March 8, 2012 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      The reason that I find it so offensive is that it is just a culmination of all the attacks on women during the past several months.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
  7. Charles

    jezz... some people didn't get it was just a joke... what was implied in the label never ever has happen... right honey?

    March 8, 2012 at 4:11 am | Report abuse |
    • jillian

      someone made a funny!

      March 8, 2012 at 5:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. lena

    Hooters is a sexist establishment, and my family does not eat there. If you do not like the trousers (or the message within), don't buy them. If your boyfriend thinks that type of thing is funny, and likes the brand and product, you have choices: 1) Get on board with his sense of humor, 2) Talk to him about how it may be insensitive to you, or 3) Find a new man (assuming it is a deal breaker). I bet most guys do not even know that joke is on the label. If my man had these trousers I would not even know about it. He does his own laundry.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. TUCO

    as it should be.....perefect

    March 8, 2012 at 4:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. CJ

    At least it didn't say something about the Kitchen because that would be taking it to far..

    March 8, 2012 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. Big Bird

    This is obviously a very successful marketing scheme. I want those pants!

    March 8, 2012 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
  12. yahmez the mad

    My wife and I work(ed) for an educational technology firm that builds robots for teaching math concepts to elementary students. Education budget cuts forced them to lay off most of the manufacturing staff, myself included. She works 60-80 hours a week marketing these programs, while I cook, clean house, wash dishes, do laundry, and take care of our four children. If I saw that label, my wife and I would have a good laugh over it. Then I would get back to the laundry...

    March 8, 2012 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. Vicki

    Men who try to diminish women in this day and age are making asses out of themselves.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      Women who can't take a joke make themselves out to be unattractive.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. 4mrbam

    I am a former Military Police Woman in the Marine Corps. I take womens rights very seriously. Not a stay home be quiet type of person. But REALLY??? Get a sense of humor people. With everything else that is going on why would anyone even begin to get bent out of shape over this??
    Semper Fi

    March 8, 2012 at 5:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jill

    This is ingenius. Lighten up, people. You're trying to make something a problem that isn't a problem. It's no one's fault we used to solely work from home. In fact, if not for the war, we'd probably still be in the home. Just go do some laundry to relieve your stress...that's what I do.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      Hmmm, that's not what I do to relieve stress. What I do does involve my wife though. 🙂

      March 8, 2012 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
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