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. Plain and simple

    As a woman, I found it amusing until I read the parenthesis. If it had said instead, "Give it to your woman (she won't screw it up)", that would have managed to stay humorous without alienating half of their audience.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin Bieblet

      so instead of one extreme, you go to the other....calling men stupid or unable.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. PorkNBeans

    I'm looking for a lady to join me down at the river in about a half hour. I have clothes to wash upon the barren rocks.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. JackTors

    The label should say "give laundry to local chinaman."

    March 8, 2012 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin Bieblet

      that's linsane

      March 8, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. rats live on no evil star

    I find this absolutly hilarious!!! i dont agree with the "its her job" part but i really thinks its funny. i do my wife's and my laundry and normally i throw every thing together and she gets so mad lol. so i gather it all and take it to the laundry room and she washes it how she wants and thats how we work. i dont believe a woman's job is to clean and procreate but this label is still funny. ANd i have seen comercials that make the husband out to be a complete dirty idiot and i didnt take offense but maybe i dont put myself in the "dirty idiot" catagory so i know im not like that owell...

    March 8, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. gedwards

    And she fails to see the irony of her picking up after her BF, while complaining about the label. Thin skinned.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
    • pj77

      That was my first thought also.

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

    What should have been added to the instructions..."now get a job to support her so she can stay home and take care of all your needs.".

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

      Yes! MaryXmas, Dead On!

      March 8, 2012 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kevin Bloom

    I think that it is funny. Why? Because I have a sense of humor. There are so many men jokes out there...and I find it funny. People who complain about this are twonks. Twonks the world over need to lighten up and get a proper sense of humor.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. jane

    All I can say is that it is good to be a gay girl. I will never have to live an oppressed life. 🙂

    March 8, 2012 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      You make me laugh.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Aditya Adhikari

      Dear Jane: Where did you learn that Gays are not opressed?

      March 8, 2012 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |

      You must be the butch one... LOL

      March 8, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
    • I luv doin laundry for my man!

      An oppressed life.....cuz u will NEVER pick up after your girlfriend?! Get a sense of humor! It was funny!

      March 8, 2012 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. LTC

    I am a woman, I love the tag. Some people need to get a sense of humor. Honestly, I think the women who are whining about this give REAL women a bad name!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. nokoolaidcowboy

    I think it's hilarious! It makes us men look like dummies but the truth is I would give it to my woman. Then she would hand it back and tell me what to do.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  11. Pelly

    Men- when you give this item to your woman, you will no longer be wearing the pants in your family.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Mrs. Late Bloomer


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

      Of course not, because she'll be washing them! Boy you ARE dumb! 😉

      March 8, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • BioHzrd

      More like I would choke him out with it.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. Chris

    That picture has been floating around the internet for at least a few years. How is it deserving of this much attn so late in the game? Come on CNN, go out and find something actually worth talking about.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. Myrmidon

    The funny part is she found the label while "tidying up" her boyfriend's apartment. Perhaps while checking to see how she should wash the clothes she just picked up?

    I guess it would feel extra snarky if I was already doing it and ran face-first into a joke left for me to find WHILE I was doing it. 😉

    March 8, 2012 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  14. JackTors

    The tag should read, "take to your local chinaman."

    March 8, 2012 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. maxine

    that's hilarious!!!!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
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