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. D.M.C.

    Well, guys, I would suggest that if you want to get any, don't wear anything with the Topman logo visible.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
    • moe smith

      you dont get any and you dont wear their stuff. your point is moot.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. JAI

    I can't see why the woman was upset, really. I mean, the second paragraph says it all: "Emma Barnett picked up her boyfriend's pants while tidying the house." Obviously, she was already operating under the assumption that doing laundry was her job, rather than her boyfriend's who could have picked up his own pants. The two aren't even married, yet she has already taken on the role of fastidious housewife when she is not even obligated in any way to do so! While I think that a man (can) do laundry just as well as a woman...Barnett brought this one on herself, and has no right to be upset that the label was just pointing out her own situation.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. *sigh*

    I'm a feminist, my husband does his own laundry (and mine sometimes too), and still think this is absolutely hilarious. People need to chill out.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Logger Gal

      I agree 100%, *sigh*...... from the more common sense point of view, its simply an advertising stunt.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Dude

      "I'm a feminist" translation, I'm a looser

      March 8, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • *manly sigh*

      I'm married to a woman who is my best friend. Which of us who does the laundry, washes dishes, cooks or vacuums is not important or an issue. I make a better Bolognese but she does astonishing things with the vacuum cleaner. My whites are always whiter but she sure wields an iron better (particularly if I ask her to wash my jeans) ... this is a storm in a tea cup and amazing PR.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. Cyn

    Might get done... might not! The almost-teenager does laundry in this house, and he is androgenous at this point. Bazingaa! Too blasted funny.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. Charlie

    I don't believe this company intended to harm or offend ANYONE! People do make mistakes everyday, like McDonald's, forgetting our fries, or when the media tells a story, but not the whole story. Here is the real problem, when women see things like this & it infuriates them because they might be persuaded or perceived it to be true. I'm not saying it's true, but lets face it there are stay at home moms and that is her job/responseability. I personally find it offending

    March 8, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • MPathyNE1

      Agreed, for the most part. Except assuming that "stay-at-home" moms somehow assumed sole responsibility for laundry. I stay home with my 18-month-old, and don't even have the time to go to the bathroom by myself or get myself anything to eat. I work full-time raising a child, so all other home-care duties are shared equally when the little one is in bed. 🙂

      March 8, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. Rick

    I don't think it was talking about the laundry........ 😉
    It was just a message of love.....

    March 8, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. molly lien vacha

    I think it is hilarious, it's basically saying men don't know how to read laundry labels. My husband does his own laundry, finally! and believe me, it is sometimes a mess! He's learning, 30 years of heavenly bliss.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  8. David M

    Is this something I'm supposed to be "outraged" over? I think some people make it part of their day to find something to be 'offended' over. Those people need to lighten up and enjoy the humor. Is this really something worth getting your drawers in a twist over?

    March 8, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. John

    What most guys don't realize, is what it's like to wear clean clothes each day, because they thought their woman could or would handle the task. They aren't doing it guys. Smell your clothes, stick your nose in your clothes and smell them. Are they clean? If you can smell anything other than fresh clean cloth, then you're missing out on what you can have if you wash your clothes yourself. Wash your clothes for one year. You'll notice the clothes aren't being left in a basket anymore, in fact, they're out of the basket after they're dried in a matter of minutes, all hung up, or in the drawers, and clean. It's something most men aren't aware of, they just take for granted that their shirts have to be in a basket for a couple weeks because they have to wait for their woman to get around to doing the wash, because she's so busy watching TV, playing video games, or talking on the phone.

    Do yourself a favor guys, get a schedule going and wash your clothes yourself. You will be impressed with the change. I'll never go back to that again, I'll do my own wash, thanks.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. Andrew

    I like it, think I'll buy a pair. Its refreshing to get away from the PC that pervades these airwaves. I completely support it. If it was the other way around, not a man on this earth would complain and get coverage for it. I bet this will do wonders for sales. And no, they don't sell female clothes.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. Emo

    Ahh come out, red necks, chauvinists one and all ! As usual, a mistake that Madhouse couldn't defend or an extremely uneducated, poor attempt at humour. If you support the joke and you're a man, you're probably not going to get far in life or haven't gotten far in life, oh bottom-dweller, and if you're a woman and thought it was funny, I'd hurry up and play carpet, if you're going to slave, put your back into it aye ? Good girl. This is backward thinking, but don't worry, we're slowly taking over the world 😉 Change is inevitable. 🙂

    March 8, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. s

    i can't think where i saw it, but this isn't the first time i've seen that label, tho i have it in my head it was a shirt... but really, idk how you can take this so srsly. i thott it was funny. my husband isn't allowed to do laundry because he'd shrink everything. if we had labels in womens' clothing that said to not let "your man" wash it, would we have this rawr over it? IT'S A JOKE. get over yourself woman.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. Andrew

    Love it, because it sticks it to women. Women don't do house chores anymore. My wife doesn't cook, clean or do laundry, but she sure is fond of these feminist backlashes, why I'm not sure, because in most two parent households today, its the guy who picks up the slack. No woman will ever admit that, and no study will ever confirm it, since women never tell the complete truth.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. Northerner

    Get over yourselves

    March 8, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. SoFunny

    Well that was a nice laugh this morning!!!! No insult to me and I am a woman. Its a joke, and people need to learn not to be so uptight! Oh and I do all the laundry in my house.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
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