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. dubrats

    what was she doing (tidying) up his house?....last i checked that was womans work too....(kidding)....anything for a news story these days i guess, she sounds like a nosy girl friend to me.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bill

    If a company that is selling men's pants alienates women, how does that "alienate a substantial part of your potential customer base"?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      Who do you think buys most men's clothing? Hint, it isn't men.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louie

      Well if you but it, you should wash it too!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SherwoodOR

    Exec #1: Item six on the agenda: "The Meaning of Life" Now uh, Harry, you've had some thoughts on this.
    Exec #2: Yeah, I've had a team working on this over the past few weeks, and what we've come up with can be reduced to two fundamental concepts. One: People aren't wearing enough hats. Two: Matter is energy. In the universe there are many energy fields which we cannot normally perceive. Some energies have a spiritual source which act upon a person's soul. However, this "soul" does not exist ab initio as orthodox Christianity teaches; it has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation. However, this is rarely achieved owing to man's unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia.
    Exec #3: What was that about hats again?
    Exec #2: Oh, Uh... people aren't wearing enough.
    Exec #1: Is this true?
    Exec #4: Certainly. Hat sales have increased but not pari passu, as our research...
    Exec #3: [Interrupting] "Not wearing enough"? enough for what purpose?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeffrey P

      That's funny, soooo true.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. RL

    First, let me say I am a guy. 2nd, when was the last time anyone saw a guy read the laundry label? So just who thought that label would be found humorous by the only people that might actually read the label? I also think it is funny that everyone is going out of the way to NOT state the actual BRAND of the manufacturer, only the store that sold them?

    But in any case... poor judgement seems to understate the stupidity of the executive that signed off on that label.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      Call Katie, she needs a date and you sound desperate.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Katie

    To everyone saying this is just a joke.... Would it still be funny if it read "Or give it to your colored slave... it's their job" ? No? Didn't think so. So how is this any different?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Powerlifter165

      Depends on what color your slave is.... I want a green one!!!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Katie – Your just too stupid to even respond to. ITS A JOKE dimwit. Quit trying to make everything SO SERIOUS... Get a LIFE !

      March 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sofa King

      Actually, that would have had me laying on the floor laughing my guts out. You Katie, are a master of Comedy.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      Rick, I made a joke, too, right? I thought jokes were supposed to be funny, but point is, the only people who laughed are those who think "ha ha yea i wish my woman was still the equivalent of a maid!" They're also the only ones who refer to a spouse or girlfriend as "my woman."

      March 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bellic

      'Colored slave?' Really? It seems that you have forgotten that slavery is illegal and has been illegal for quite some time now. If you do have a slave, then there is something wrong with you. Also, why does it have to be a colored slave? If you are keeping slaves, even though it is illegal, you might as well keep a non-colored slave.

      Point is, you're trying too hard. You are dumb.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • MJ Shaw

      Good for you, you used the word "colored" for moderate impact. Had you been braver, and interested in making the comparison equal, you might have thrown the "N"-word in there for maximum effect... Don't be shy in your righteous indignation... It's really weak.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      I actually did try to use more controversial language, but the moderator didn't like it. Hence, colored was the only one i could think of that conveyed the same idea.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      Oh, here we go. Hysterics. Katie's man will be wearing a skirt before it's all said and done.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheotherKatie

      While everyone seems to be attacking you, I have to say I agree with everything you've posted. There's no reason they shouldn't learn how to do at least some of the housework. By saying "your woman-it's her job" the manufacturers imply that we are inferior beings or property and it's our "place" to do ALL the cooking, laundry, etc. There is NOTHING funny about this, and that is coming from someone with a typically good sense of humor.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      OMG! their replicating!!!

      March 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lovely

    The proper way for a lady, woman and/or girl to care for a man's chinos or khakis is to:
    1. Pick trousers up off floor
    2. Open nearest window
    3. Fling trousers out window

    Don't forget to close the window or you will catch more pests such as wasps, stinkbugs or loser men.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa


      March 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buck

      Shouldn't you be in the kitchen? 😉

      March 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bellic

      Have fun buying new trousers every week or so. That is just rediculous to even bring up.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • MJ Shaw

      Instead of saying, "Lady, woman, and/or girl", why don't you just say FEMALE?

      By saying "Lady, woman,,," you are implying there are qualifiers that differentiate the two, thereby making one superior to the other, as woman is naturally superior to girl through puberty, wisdom, experience, age, etc.

      How about just using the words FEMALE and MALE to keep it simple and not accidentally reveal your own judgments...

      March 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cateyes7

      Or better yet, "Dear, your laundry is finished. The ashes are in the fireplace!"

      March 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lovely

      A fireplace will work if a window is not available. Making sure the man is not in the pants when you toss them out is optional.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. Liz

    "This tweet from British journalist Emma Barnett show's the laundry tag from a pair of Madhouse pants."

    "Show's???" Really??? With an apostrophe?? It's pretty clear that there is no possessive relationship intended here. Why not "pant's?!!" Grammar is not only a lost art but a completely dead one. People are d-u-m-b, dumb.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. palintwit

    Ha ha. Pregnant, barefoot, in the kitchen and doing the laundry. Just how Rick Santorum wants it.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Powerlifter165

      I suggest doing laundry in the laundry room not the kitchen.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      That's where Santorum keeps the dead fetus.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. j

    I thought that was funny, we all know women are part of the work force and not barefoot and pregnant anymore. That's why it's funny.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. guysarestupid

    All it says is that guys are clueless. They can't read. They can't wash clothes. They can't boil water.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      If there was any implication of self-deprecation here I'd think it was funny too. But there is none. You're reading it into the label so you can feel better about it.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sally

    i think this was a good way to ensure that all men will now be responsible for washing their own laundry

    March 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lila

    Funny but offensive. Anyway the "woman" most likely to wash the pants of a guy who wears pants from a company called Madhouse is probably the guy's mommy.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mystery

    I love this label. I take pride in being able to decipher the cleaning instructions. Our clothes are nice, clean and unwrinkled. Why shouldn't I be proud of myself for knowing how to do something. My husbands idea of cleaning clothes is well.... lets not go there. I love being a woman!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      We love you being a woman! Keep it up (and we will too).

      March 7, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. WORMEY

    LMAO!!!!! I think this was hilarious -- even the words "A firestorm set off in a pair of men's trousers " had me crying! People seriously need to lighten up!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • emma if they read "give them to your black or philippino maid: it's her job" that would be hilarious too?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      You know it would

      March 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevin

    Wow, people just like to attack everything and everybody for trying to make things a bit humorous. Settle down and think about things that really matter.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
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