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 Boy

    Judging from the grammar and spelling used by Madhouse in its Twitter response, quoted here, I'd say there's not a lot of hope for the improved proofreading they promise.
    "There was never any intention to offend it is obvious that ..."; "the label the items would never of been ..." It's "have been," ya putz ya, or "would've."

    March 8, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. OSA6311

    I, a woman, personally find the tag HILARIOUS!!! My husband can actually operate our washer and dryer, but I prefer he not. The women taking offense to this tag have some serious issues they need worked out. It's ridiculous that this is being blown so far out of proportion.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • akb

      I agree with you!

      March 8, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  3. B

    "Emma Barnett picked up her boyfriend's pants while tidying the house"

    This article is hilarious because she was actually performing the "traditional woman's job" of picking up her boyfriend's pants! Does Emma Barnett not see the irony?

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

      Yes, that part is hilarious 🙂

      March 8, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. a woman

    all of you are taking this WAAAAYY too seriously.
    ever hear of comedy anyone?
    if my man works so that i dont have to, i'll gladly make it my job to do his laundry

    March 8, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. DOG1

    Bet ya Santorum read this article and didn't understand why there's an issue!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. RichWW2

    Everyone needs to lighten up. It's a joke. Let it go people.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. Colorado Guy

    I think this company may have shot itself in the foot. It's obviously tongue-in-cheek , but I think most men's trousers are purchased by women. Way to alienate your purchasing public. !!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      I never heard of this company before, and I ordered three pairs yesterday. No one has a sense of humor anymore.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. MaryinPA

    As a woman, I couldn't stop laughing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  9. Go_make_me_a_sammich_woman

    So while picking up his dirty clothes, she got offended by a label that told her to do exactly what she was already doing?

    March 8, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. Vee

    Why is grammer even an important on a story like this? Is this an English Essay "Funny" is writing? Ummm, no. Get a life.........Oh, by the way, I think the label is actually funny. Americans are sooooooo sensitive. Get over it!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Grammar: The New Fad

      Why is grammar important? Is that a serious question? If you immediately seem like an ignorant moron, people won't take you as seriously as you seem to expect them to. You typed something incorrectly. No big deal. You were then corrected. Instead of making any attempt at learning, you went into defense mode. You think someone else is weird for knowing how to express themselves properly? That's just sad.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. Buck Ofama

    I don't know why everybody is so upset. Sounds like good advice to me. And if your woman has time to read pants labels then obviously you're not giving enough chores to do around the house!!!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      LOL..... Finally, a smart comment from a republican...

      March 8, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. Anonymous

    Who cares? It's a joke.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  13. JackTors

    The label should read, "take to local chinaman."

    March 8, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. Amanda R

    This is really old. Pictures of labels like that have been circulating online for years.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. Gina

    I'm a woman! This is hilarious! I'm sure the women complaining have never made man jokes before. Right??

    March 8, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
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