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. Spidey-Man

    I think it's pretty funny. Good that some still have a sense of humor these days. Imagine us guys without a "woman" to give the pants to to wash... That pair of pants just would never get washed would they? IF guys read instructions that is.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ken

    So, I am a married, middle-aged white professional male and I do the dishes, wash the kitchen floor, take out the trash, clean the bathrooms, pay the bills and take care of the automotive work. My mother has served on the board of directors of a public US company and I have an aunt who worked on the initial American team to calculate moon landing projections. With that said, the label is quite hilarious. Let's just all laugh.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. John

    The label is wrong, but not for the reason the twit was complaining about. I used to let a woman wash my clothes, no more. They either never got washed, or the colors got all messed up, or the shirts were left in the dryer and ended up wrinkled. Do it yourself guys, and it will get done right. Your clothes will smell better too when they're washed more often.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
    • BioHzrd

      Maybe she was trying to give you a hint to wash your own clothes.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Absolutely, that is the woman's point, if you want it done well, do it yourself. A woman's solution to get clean clothes, is to buy more at the store, and then either take them back to the store to return them, or toss them in the basket and wash them next month. Next, they buy more baskets to hold more clothes, or they build big piles of clothes on the floor because the baskets are in the laundry room they rarely enter because it doesn't have a TV, fridge, or video game in it.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. LTC

    I honestly think she wants her 15 minutes of fame.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. Aezel

    Yet more people out searching for something to be offended by.

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

    What man would ever see it? They NEVER read the instructions!

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

      Best comment comeback ever!!!!!

      March 8, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Ms. Direction

      exactly, that's what girls are good at, so they should be embracing their talents.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Roger That

      Oh no!!! I need to write an article about how offended I am by this comment! Booo-hooo! Oh, actually wait! It IS funyy! I laughed. I even see truthfulness to it. Now only if Ms. Barnett could join the rest of the GROWN UPS and ignore it. I laugh when people make references to Men not reading instructions, or not stopping to ask for directions for that matter. I am old enough to realize that this does not mean all men are like this, but a great many are. I am not offended. Do I think laundry is only a woman's job. No. Do I think this label is harmless. Yes, but only if you allow it to be.

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

    Good Heavens people – the world needs more laughter. Some people would make a point of being offended by a blank piece of paper!

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

    Tweeting "never of been" shows the level of education of the people at Madhouse. And you expect them to proof-read their products? They should "of" been fired!

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

    Fix me a Sammmichh woman!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. shawna

    anyone see the irony in that she was already cleaning up after her boyfiriend? 'picked up his pants while tidying the house.' BARF.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Mina

      Exactly!! She was on her way to wash them! Why else would she read the label? LOL...I find it funny that she was offended at the instructions telling her to do exactly what she was going to do anyway.

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

    This is old. I saw a photo of one of these tags years ago.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ronieb

    It was obviously an attempt at lighthearted humor by the manufacturer.....Don't look so DEEP into it

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

      The more "okay" stuff like this is, the more people internalize it – especially younger people. Do you think it's "just a joke" when a little girl hears someone say, "DUH, girls can't be lawyers/computer scientists/plumbers!" and takes it seriously?

      March 8, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Mina

      ShenShen...in the states women are running for the highest office...I really doubt as a society we're going start moving backwards in that aspect–even if all clothing labels had that message.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Roger That

      Oh Shen-Shen. Is a label in the inside of someones pants really that powerrful? Who knew?
      If a young girl gets the message that they can't be one of those jobs, there's a problem with the girl or her parents. I mean really? Watch TV, it is filled with female characters that are in those high profile jobs. Other people have realized there's even more to life than that, too.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. Still have Humor

    Get the f@%k over it people! It is a joke. Have we truly become so offendable that we are going to raise cain about a humorous washing label? Our Republic is being destroyed, our government is overreaching its authority, and some of my fellow Americans are worried about a lousy garment care tag? Hey, do me a favor and stick your head back in the sand! We don't need you voting in November! You obviously don't have clue about what is really happening and we will be better off if you stay concerned about what is happening on American Idol or Dancing with the Stars.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
    • CC

      What makes you so great? These labels are from England. Stop thinking everything is about your country going down the tubes.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. John Spurlock

    Any woman offended by this, has too much free time on their hands, and probably needs to go do some laundry.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. ROCKWOOD

    I think it's hilarious. I think people are being too over sensitive. I don't, in any way, view women this way. I think it's a great reminder of how far women have come. One of the very first things I remember my mom teaching me, was how to do my own laundry.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
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