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. chris f

    They got what they wanted, a massive publicity without spending a dime. We never heard if them prior to this. Masterful marketing tactic!

    March 8, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Don

      To chris F
      I agree with you; A GREAT MARKETING PLOY!!!!

      If I could find them in the store; I would buy a few pairs, just for the humor in the statement...

      March 8, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. calen

    I think it is all funny and brillian. Great PR stunt either by the jean company or the store, who knows. And who honestly cares? Why are women (myself being a woman) so incredibly sentsitive. I think it hurts us more than it helps us.

    I earn 3 times as much as my husband and I do all of our laundry, cooking and most of the cleaning. Not because I think its my 'job' but because I don't trust him to do it right 🙂

    Lighten up everybody.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • JC

      What men know: If you do it horribly wrong often enough, she'll get sick of your "mistakes" and do it herself. Bro fist to your hubby. Meh heh heh.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • erik

      I'm not allowed to do the laundry; which I find pretty interesting, since I'm the only one who knows how to clean the lint filter.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. Corwin7

    The real tragedy is that most mens pants already contain "a joke".

    March 8, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Pam

      LMAO

      March 8, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • JC

      A joke that women have been falling for since Adam and his fig-leaf.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • dkcoke

      that was toooo funny

      March 8, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. Pam

    There is more than one way to look at it. It could be interpreted as that men are too stupid to do laundry. I think it would have been better if they would have said she is better at it, than saying it is her job.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bob

    I agree. This tag is in bad taste. Women are better than men at doing many things... like, doing laundry, ironing, and in some cases cooking. And a woman should not need a laundry tag to know that it's her job to do the laundry!!! Makes me sick!

    March 8, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      LOVE IT!!! Keep them pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen....

      March 8, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • MikeH

      Not true in my house Bob. My wife will be the first to admit she can burn water, and can't cook if her life depended on it. When I married her, I got her 3 kids ina package deal, and they all loved me from the get go as in their own words "we finally get to see what food is supposed to taste like". I do the cooking and house cleaning, and it doesn't bother me at all. I couldn't iron if my life depended on it, but the wife can iron.

      This is no different than a package of gag diapers(was just pampers in a custom made packaging) I got from a friend last year when our youngest was born, on the back it had directions for changing a baby boy(as we had a son) and it had stick figures and it had instructions for a man and a woman, the man had 10 panes detailing the steps and the last pane said "or you can had it off to the mommy", and for the woman it had 3 panes and ended with "if the man changed the diaper, please for the love of god, check the diaper" lol

      March 8, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jean

    Yeah, go ahead and try and give it to me.

    I'll put it where it'll never need to be laundered again.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. Clark Gable

    I don't know what's more bothersome, that the world is up in arms about a brand of jeans, or that the manufacturer clearly wants your jeans ruined. The former seems silly as there are millions of offensive shirts sold daily and CNN doesn't waste a spread on that. And the later however, is a true threat to your jeans. The women of today cannot be trusted with laundry, cooking, or any other household task. Seriously, ask yourself when was the last time you met a 20-30 something woman who knew how to keep a home? Besides when your girlfriend introduced you to her paid house cleaner.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. Feng

    Funny tag. People are too sensitive. What happens when we start becoming offended by the sensitivity of others? Will they stop being so sensitive so as to not offend us? Nonsense, all of it. ...anyway, humor is healing. I like it.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. Chris W.

    Much ado about nothing. Now make me a sandwich!

    March 8, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  10. no more pc

    Please........I am a working wife and mother and that is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time!!!!!! I have a question for all you idiot women that decided to burn your bras and get offended by a very funny tag.... What do you do when you need your oil changed, your tire changed, the roof fixed or something very heavy lifted???? If you are not having your man take care of those things then that means your butch girlfriend is probably strong enough to handle it. I on the other hand will take on the laundry in the comfort of air conditioning and watching T.V. at the same time any ole' day!!! Put on some lipstick and get over yourselves!!!!!

    March 8, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Lex

      Funny and true. 😉

      March 8, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. JC

    I remember a while back there was a pair of pants that had on the tag "OR give them to your mom; it's her job!" I'm sure that raised a fuss, too. Nice advertising; tasty sandwiches all around!

    March 8, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. RP

    LOL!! That's too funny!! I am a woman and I thought that was hilarious. Some people are just too uptight!!

    March 8, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bob C.

    I wish my wife's car had a label that said, "if a light on the dashboard comes on, or this car starts behaving or sounding differently, tell your man *immediately*."

    March 8, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Now that would be cool!!

      March 8, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. Lex

    Do your own laundry. I do mine! However, on occasion I will do my beau's laundry as a courtesy gift because he does very nice things for me like fixing stuff around my flat. I know it makes him happy to see neatly folded clothes ready to go into the closet and drycleaning stacked for pick up. I will also wake up early and clean up the living room after a night of debauchery. It is just a nice thing to do. I also make tea, get the paper and run the dishwasher. He will often clean my flat and bring over takeout. I think it is called being kind and division of labour.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. Josh

    Does anyone else think that possibly "woman" was just a bad translation of "maid" or something ?

    March 8, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Lex

      No I don't.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
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