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. mrPhillip

    Too lazy – to wash your own pants.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Extremophil

    I give my laundry to my woman. (and she gives it right back)

    March 8, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Iamsoashamed

    that is so funny, my wife has ruined so many clothes because she doesn't know a thing about laundry...hahahahha

    March 8, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. Zenichimaro

    The world was a better place when women stayed at home. Children need mothers–or at least a PARENT–in the home, and do not deserve to be relegated to anonymous "day care centres" which are breedng grounds for illness and anti-social behaviour.

    The big mistake of feminism is that it denigrated the role of women as mothers and wives, telling women that somehow it's demeaning to be either or both. The only reason the so-called feminists have their panties in a bunch over this whole thing is because, deep down, they realise they're selling out their families for some paltry success as a worker in corporate America.


    March 8, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Takali

      This is why we can't have nice things.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Bbbubbba

      Maybe this switching roles thing isn't such a bad idea. Maybe if men stayed home and raised the family the kids would turn out to be better adults. Raising the next generation of humans who will be running the world isnt' a job for sissys and girly men....

      March 8, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      Or maybe women should stay at home since they have a more nurturing nature. Men weren't designed that way, sorry.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Gina

      Nice one. Let us stay home and have no social lives, no adult conversations and be confined to a home; being a housewife is HARD work, I'd rather not.

      My sister has been a mother of 5, a successful attorney and a great wife for over 20 years. My nieces and nephew are well adjusted, well behaved and musically talented children who still get help with their homework but also have the independence to get themselves ready in the morning, not because they have to but because they WANT to.

      Just because some women don't know how to balance their work life & home lives doesn't mean the solution is locking us in the house & doing chores all day.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  5. The Milkman

    If women would just stay in the kitchen and stop driving, this wouldn't be a problem.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  6. Matt

    Emma sounds fat. That tag is hilarious!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kae

    The real sadness here, I think, lies in the fact that a major world news supplier, maybe the world's foremost, didn't even bother to trace the tag to its source. They write "the trousers were manufactured by a brand" stocked by the company who sold them. As they teach pretty much the first day of any journalism class after handing out the syllabus, an actual writer would have gone to the source. The source isn't found, isn't named, isn't even asked after, as far as this article goes. That's ridiculous. Come on, gang. There's some smark aleck sitting in some office somewhere laughing his or her brains out over what they did–your job is to find that person. Do your job or go home.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. teamroper

    Men are still in charge, when their women are not home...

    March 8, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  9. College Boy

    For teen clothing: "Give it to your mother!"

    For college guy clothing: "Hahaha, don't you wish you knew!"

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

    Think it should be men who are offended, if anyone...after all, it's basically saying we're not smart enough to understand laundry instructions.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • DeeNYC

      many aren't

      March 8, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      But many are and do. Women need to stop being so self-absorbed in finding offense in everything.

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

    Why do women wear white on their wedding day?
    so they match the washer dryer.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Rene

      Not all washers and dryers are white.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • DeeNYC

      Rene: not all brides wear white 🙂

      March 8, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. Peter

    Oh relax for Pete's sake! For a lot of households the woman DOES do the laundry; it IS her job. For many other households it's not. In my household, my wife doesn't do any cooking and she rarely does any grocery shopping. This tag is a joke and if you take it as anything but that, you're just naive to reality. Besides, how often are tools and home improvement items associated with men? If you can't open the proverbial pickle jar, who do you give it to? Does that mean all men can open pickle jars and no woman can? No. It's just making fun out of how things happen a lot of the time.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mike in the "D"

    what are trousers???

    March 8, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. McCy

    The label is a joke, not an especially good one, but it's just a joke, no big deal. Some of the comments responding to this article, on the other hand, are a bit disturbing...

    March 8, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Gina

      If the label said something like..."Give it to your woman, its her job. PS. Don't blame us if you're single later" or something that was actually FUNNY then this wouldn't be a discussion honestly.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. Kaps

    This is hilarious. Anyone opposed to it has no sense of humour and is probably an evil evil feminist

    March 8, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
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