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

    From what I've seen guys, women are not even at the level of washing clothes well. You're better off if you start doing all the things you need, because most women can't do what they've been said to be able to do over the centuries. When was the last time your clothes smelled clean when you let your woman wash them? Washing your clothes is not on their list, watching TV and eating is on their list, your clothes are in a pile in a basket if you're waiting for her to do them. Do them yourself and wear clean clothes for once.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  2. Miriades

    I'm a Brazilian woman. Brazilian people tend not to take things like that so seriously. We know that this was a funny way of drawing attention to the brand. Brazilian women are self-confident and if such a remark unveils men's insecurity. Not in this case, of course.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. Lauren

    Best label ever!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. mautrrry


    March 8, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe T.

      Or maybe because there really isn't any point of removing them?

      March 8, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • you break it, you buy it

      even though it states on the tag that removing the tag doesn't apply to the purchaser.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |

    Sad, but curiously HILARIOUS!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. Joe T.

    Why shouldn't women drive?

    There are no roads between the kitchen and the bedroom.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jen

    Might want to break up with your boyfriend. He was obviously supporting this!!!1!

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

      forgive me, are you that ignorant? Most men don't check on the tag at all.. all of them always check by wear then buy it without check on tag so why are you telling her to break up with him you're selfish person, I BET!

      March 8, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  8. Daisy

    Kinda stupid on the manufacturer's part...I mean if a man has woman that washes his clothes she probably buys his clothes too...and she's not gonna buy this brand twice.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bryan

    Ahh, the good old days. Now we just have women without a sense of humor getting her panties in a wad over a label on a pair of pants. If we could only go back to male-only schooling, this wouldn't have become a problem. 😉

    March 8, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. Roger That

    When I was in Kindergarten, I was taught that sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. The same principle applies here. The more we get upset by stupid things like this the more we fuel them. Its long over dure that we grow up and toughen our skin, for goodness sake. We have far greater problems to worry about. YEs, i am a man, I even do our laundry and I cook. My wife has a better job at the moment than I do so I support her where I can- so I don't necessarily feel the laundry is a woman's job. But I laugh at how bent out of shape people get over petty things. Oh, it hurt my feelings.. blah blah blah. Our kids have thicker skins. I read a post here by a woman who stated us men don't read labels so don't worry about it. Did I go crying to my mommy? No, I laughed hard at it! It was funny. Quit being babbies!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. KWHodges56

    I am offended that you are offended.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. happy camper

    I don't know about the rest of you, but my girl likes doin stuff like that for me and I appreciate it. And so does the girl who wrote the article. what other reason would she be picking up his pants to read the wash instructions? 😀

    March 8, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Minny

      Exactly! I enjoy doimg laundry and cooking for my man be cause I LOVE HIM! He enjoys doing chores for me too. Like working on the car for example. I know he detests mechanical work, yet he still does it because it needs to be done and he knows I don't like doing it and am not that skilled at it. Its a give give relationship. You should try it. We both work and we both share the chores. Get over it. Women, like my sister-in-law drive me crazy. Some sit around expecting to be served as if they are the queen of the house. If you were single living on your own, you'd have to be doing EVERYTHING yourself or pay to have it done. When in a relationship you share and compromise. This label never said it was wrong for a woman to work outside the home. If they label was talking about automotive work and said leave this for your man, itts his job, most women would agree!

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

    It's been about 5 years now that I've been washing my own clothes and they're clean. I follow a schedule and they're washed regularly. The woman never did that. There were times that I needed a shirt and they were all in a laundry basket. How many times has that happened to you guys? It happened lots of times to me. Her solution was to get one out of the basket, sprinkle water on it and put it in the dryer to get the wrinkles out. That's a woman's solution to doing the wash... almost never. Eating and watching TV was her job, my job was to pay the bills and work so she could do that and not much more.

    Guys, admit it, you're better off doing what you need, yourself.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe T.

      This man speaks truth.

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

    I find this very funny-though I have a dry and sarcastic sense of humor that many do not understand,and it certainly does not usually translate in print form,as in a label.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jokesterer

    After I give it to my woman, she has to wash the sheets.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
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