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. john meyer

    This is precisely why men will always be stronger, smarter and more successful than women. Because we don't waste all our energy on senseless, inconsequential garbage.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. Stuck in the Middle

    Yesterday I'd never heard of this company, now everyone knows who they are.
    Oh yeah, they're the idiots LOL

    March 8, 2012 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  3. Slappy

    That's just funny. No need for anyone to get their panties in a bunch.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lennyb00b

    If you ACT like a lady, you get treated like a like a lady. Womens Lib is such a joke. There is no way a woman can ever equal a man or vice versa....unless you grow one.....

    March 8, 2012 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. coffeetheologyandjesus

    Is it really that big of a deal? I don't think many men would be offended if the tag said "GIVE THEM TO YOUR HUSBAND AND TEACH HIM TO BE RESPONSIBLE INSTEAD OF SITTING AROUND WATCHING TV ALL DAY!".

    I'm just saying. Who cares?

    March 8, 2012 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      It was only posted just before International Women's Day to make it as inflammatory as possible. Offended by it? Too bad, just don't buy them and go grow yourself your very own life where you don't really care about BS all the time.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
    • whatever

      If you told a man to stop being lazy and stop watching t.v he wouldn't care. Why do women complain about everything?

      March 8, 2012 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
    • juicy 81

      I personally thought it was cute !!! i can my husband handing me his pants saying "baby" this is something for you to wash... how cute... Know if only when the electricity bill came it said tell your husband to pay.. then we could be even

      March 8, 2012 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Martin

      Please don't have "Jesus" in your name and leave a comment about how his most beautiful creation being degraded isn't a big deal. Please represent Him: He respected women. Thanks brother.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • coffeetheologyandjesus

      I think if we are going to go there with your point of "degraded" we should look at much more serious issues then a tag on a pair of pants.

      When you show me a man that read that tag and then forced his girl to actually do that (against her wishes) then I'll concede to a woman being degraded by a tag on a pair of pants.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Martin

      (Or sister.)

      March 8, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. Anon

    WOW, she was so lucky to have found that pair of pants JUST IN TIME for International Day of Women that celebrates women's rights etc. And as a journalist, maybe needing something to write about on this important day, that was like a 1 in a million chance. She truly was so very lucky, it gave her something to write about. Rock on Sister. Fight the fight.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Ace

      Moron spoiler alert:
      Sarcasm.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  7. Steve -- WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING!!!!

    As the MAN who does the cooking and cleaning around our house, I think it's pretty funny.

    Folks, LIGHTEN UP!!!!

    March 8, 2012 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      Same here. I do the dishes and laundry in our house and if it said "Give it to your husband, it's about time he learned to clean up after himself" it would have been just as funny.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. Steve -- WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING!!!!

    Folks, LIGHTEN UP!!!!

    As the MAN who does the cooking and cleaning around our house, I think it's pretty funny.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joe Fattal

    Yes I would, that if they wash them. British women are too snobbish anyhow. I bet when they spoke about women they meant the imigrants one.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. Zebulon Pi

    I love the double standard. I can't tell you how many commercials I see with the "stupid husband", doing something moronic while the woman rolls her eyes and jumps in to save the day while her husband looks on sheepishly. THOSE are fine, but a hidden little tongue-in-cheek pants label has all the women on the planet ovulating in sync in siing We Shall Overcome? Gimme a break.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Adepaola

      You're right. I mean, I think the "it's her job" thing might be a bit much. But it bugs me to see men painted as idiots all the time in commercials, movies, tv shows. The implication that men are stupid or that things like child care, cleaning, cooking and doing laundry are beyond them is just as insulting in my opinion. I get that it's a joke, and honestly, it would make me laugh to see that label in a pair of my husband's pants. Maybe it's a little in poor taste, but it's still a joke. . .

      March 8, 2012 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      I'm an American woman and found this funny. I am so sick of television and movies making men look like idiots.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mariam

    Wow. Maybe they should have just handed out dry cleaning coupons with the pants, since I have a feeling that some women might just throw those pants and err...what goes inside them right back at "her man". As a side note, he may not get his weekly spending allowance from HER paycheck...since that's his job, historically speaking. But honestly, I think this is kind of comical since I don't think anyone would really take this seriously.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. ddd7936

    this is hilarious. a little humor on a laundry tag upsets all the hissy people. There's a certain portion of the population just trolling for opportunities to be offended. Glad they found another "cause" to vent over. It's probably Bush's fault.
    So many adults today are immature, looking for a cause that makes them feel pious. Flaming hypocrites.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  13. elvira

    I am the laundry queen in our home and I am not offended and think this is really funny!! P.S. I do work full time and have 4 kids.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. tman

    Do you know why womans feet are smaller than Men's?? It's an evolutionary adaptation that allows them to get closer to the sink in order to do the dishes.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
  15. go clean my house

    i think the label is very funny. knowing to do these things (from either gender) does not devalue the person. women and men are not equals. one does #1 standing up, the other one sits down, etc. be realistic... my wife will not mow the lawn cause that is my job... and i'm prohibited from entering the kitchen when she is performing her culinary duties. she does woman stuff and i do man stuff... get over it. Adam showed up before Eve... so it's our world and rules, lol

    March 8, 2012 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
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