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. BarbaraG

    Just think, if the woman hadn't been picking up her boyfriend's pants while tidying up the house, she never would have seen the label. Was she upset because she was about to do her boyfriend's laundry? I think the label is funny.

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


    March 8, 2012 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dave

    The people getting their britches in a bunch are probably the same ones who got butthurt over the slogan on the Yorkie Bar..."It's not for girls."

    March 8, 2012 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Are these "offended" women the same hypocritical women who whine about women's right's while they laugh at the constant demeaning of men on television commercials? Nice.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. Grant

    This is not news. Images of this tag have floating around the internet for at least a year! If Barnett calls herself a journalist, especially when it comes to digital media, then the next exclusive she should be delivering is the following: England goes to war over the Falkland Islands.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. Merlynne

    Oh come on, put on your big girl panties, and grow up, folks.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |
  7. DonnaG

    I would never see the tag anyway since my husband does all the laundry! It sounds to me like us women are still fighting men over "female" jobs versus "male" jobs – too bad some men just never grow up and learn how to do their own laundry!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Backhand

      Get in the kitchen wench!

      March 8, 2012 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. nonplussed

    This is a joke, perhaps not a very good one but intended as one all the same I also own jeans from this supplier and it has had the label for a couple of years, I also own a jumper from the same supplier, that has the same set of washing symbols and the phase " or give it to your Mum it's her Job" It is meant as a joke and it is always treated as such by my wife, and my mum

    March 8, 2012 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. Vlado

    I wanna have those pants lol! I've been doing my loundry all my life (I'm a male) and my secret dream is to find a woman who would take this burden off my shoulders haha.. but these days women wanna go to a front line... then – it's up to men to replace a "women's job"! lol...

    March 8, 2012 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. celmira9

    The label would not bother me and me thinketh that it would not hold water in the good old USA.
    My husband washes his laundry (so he says) and when I go to the laundromat, it is usually full of men. Some women just got tired of being slaves holding jobs at home and outside the home. Some still enjoy doing it and that is fine especially those women who are stay-at-home moms.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. BillyRay

    Rightly so. My wife won't let me do laundry. I make a mess of it.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    I'll do the laundry where the bleach

    March 8, 2012 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. Irony

    The funny thing about this is that the woman who found the label and was offended by it did so while gathering her man's laundry and cleaning house for him. Now THAT'S a liberated woman!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. Audrey

    Oh, they had to put the instructions for the woman in pictures, too. This is really hilarious. Great advertising campaign. Totally free buzz and awareness of their product. Guys will be busting their seams trying to find where to buy them.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. GrammarPolice

    I "would never of" expected some of those comments from the people who invented English.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
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