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. Beth

    I think it's hysterical and I was LMAO when I read it. It was made for me as I insist on doing all the laundry in my house... I don't trust any of my guys to do it. But to be fair, I think cars should come with a sticker under the hood that says
    "every six months give the keys to your guy to go get this baby serviced".....

    March 8, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. Chas. Farmer

    Come on, this label is funny and meant to be so. It's completely tongue-in-cheek humor and not to be taken seriously. All offended parties, please take a deeeeeep breath and see it as it was intended.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      It wasn't funny to me (and I'm a man). I think companies that produce consumer products should avoid attempting to make light of social issues - it will usually backfire.

      That said, if they didn't actually manufacture the items, it is kind of a stretch to assume they inspected the labels to see what was there.

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

    We share the laundry at my house. She either needs to chill out or she's only offended for the attention. How many men would be offended if the instructions on trash bags said "Place in bin, Fill with refuse, Make your man take it out."?

    March 8, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      That one is three sentences - it actually becomes funnier because of that. But it is also not equivalent to compare the two - women have in our society been historically oppressed; men have not.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    Oh please! It's funny. These women are so defensive about everything. They must have a poor self-image. What if a kid bought a baseball glove and the tag on the pocket said, "If you have to oil the leather give it to your dad, it's his job." Big deal. Or if the label on the jeans stated, "To get them washed give them to your dad it's his job". Oooooo.... who cares.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  5. success2000

    this story too funny. here is what's real, you can compound your money daily at 1.5% with zeekrewards plus five other ways to make steady income go to success2000"dot"zeekrewards"dot"com. see your money grow daily.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  6. FrannieD


    March 8, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  7. nicoly

    I'm a woman and I think it's funny. Lighten up people! Aren't there bigger problems in the world to worry about?

    March 8, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  8. Homer

    The should be a label on the stove as well.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      The warning on the stove says "caution - can cause severe burns when turned on."

      March 8, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  9. Al

    People who find this offensive go buy yourself some sense of humor. I hear it's on sale at StopShop this week.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. Quid Malmborg

    It was meant to cater to the UK's mushrooming Pakistani community. Probably flew right over their heads. ;-]

    March 8, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. lins

    – it may seem small and no big deal.... but remember it is a slippery slope and it always starts somewhere.
    Dubi – woman cant drive
    afganastan – woman may not be out in public without a male escort.

    we enjoy freedom here ...... but in a BIG BIG part of the world woman DO NOT!
    It is all the small things, the small ideas, the small items – that build and build and lead to people believeing things and then living them.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      The label may be offensive to some, but it does not represent serious backsliding on social issues!

      March 8, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  12. The weasel

    Why do all these women have time to complain online about this issue? They should be in the kitchen!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. NonBeliever

    Oh for cryin' out loud, lighten up. Some people take themselves WAY too seriously!!! I think the label is pretty funny.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tonia

    Extremely funny!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. BigTex

    I guess the author would not appreciate my "Big Johnson" T-shirt either. Now bring me a beer woman.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
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