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. Jimbo

    Feminism hurts.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dana

    I read the comments and see that it's the men who find it humorous. Disgusting. I wonder what you machos would say if some product implied that YOU are to work and women stay home watch TV, huh?

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

      We would find it amusing because it is wrong, your job is not to watch tv it is to raise my kid and make me dinner before i get home. That is all you need to be thinking about while i am out paying for your fur coats. Now make me a sandwhich!

      March 8, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • cbtx67

      I am a woman and I think its hilarious. I'm sure it was in jest. For the record, she was picking up his laundry to wash it. Just like I do. Perhaps it was a backhanded insult to males who rarely do their own laundry.Most men still muck up their laundry, they can build bridges and manhandle computers, but some guys still come out with pink underwear. The bottom line is, its not all about you, or in this case, us.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bman

    If it wasn't her job why was she picking up her boyfriends pants and tidying the house? I understand the problem with the label and but what the heck, if she had a problem with doing it then she should have left them on the floor, or better yet, don't date guys who leave their dirty laundry all over the place. Change starts at home.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex Blanco

      I did fins it hysterical that the commentary is indicating that the womans job is not to clean up and do laundry, yet the label was discovered as the woman was cleaning up after her man.

      BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!

      March 8, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. Michelle

    Everyone needs to stop being so offended at the slightest thing. I'm sure there was no harm intended. When I read it I laughed, it's funny. People get a sense of humor.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. Alex Blanco

    Brilliant! It's hysterical. Now they get sales – leave the damn tag in so I can get a few pairs, they stand to make a killing by nut folding to this nonsenical PC garbage.

    Anyone who is offended, I say doesnt matter – they're just noisy people who want attention and cant get it without complaining.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. Harriet

    There is no evidence that this was meant as a joke.
    In fact, we have a company that fell silent for 24 hours, then issued an apology, blaming another company.
    Who is standing up and saying, "hey, we made a joke." No one, because they didn't.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Aeromechanic

      Get back in the kitchen and fix me something to eat.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Get over it

      A small price to pay to be allowed to vote. Life sucks, get a helmet, and don't forget I like light starch with my wash.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • MikeD

      If not a joke, then what purpose? Oh, wait. Now, I see. Worked, too.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      Right, it's part of the vast male conspiracy to enslave women through laundry labels.

      It's time for another layer of tinfoil in your hat.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dale

    I spend my time looking for the best spin on situations or intentions rather than the most negative. This to me is obviously an attempt at humour – whether you find it funny or not. Some may find it offensive but in today's day and age it would be hard to see this as a subversive attempt by a clothing company to turn back the clock to a time where subjugation of women was the expected norm.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Juan

      me too, but what if it read: give to your filipino, hispanic, or black cleaning lady??? Would that be funny? I doubt it. So why is woman funny?

      March 8, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Hugo Chavez

      Juan, it would really be funny if it said; Give to a Mexican, but check your pockets first so he doesn't steal anything.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Alex

    I love manufactured "outrage"....nobody cares it was a joke! Im glad to see most people find this "outrage" ridiculous...i have better things to worry about

    March 8, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dusty

    She picked up his pants to go through his pockets, what else.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dusty

    Women don't do a thing for free. She was just snooping through his things

    March 8, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dick Hertz

    It is a joke. It's also great publicity that they wouldn't have had otherwise. Where can I buy these?

    March 8, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. Rafael

    Jeebus, it's a joke.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kristen

    I wish people didn't get so worked up about things as frivolous as this. It's just a label in some pants. This is something I'd expect to see on reddit or facebook; why is there a story about it on CNN!?

    The journalist says she can usually "take" this kind of thing but, now, this is just too far. I don't really see the difference between this label and graphics on t-shirts and whatever else she compared it to. I think if we all lightened up, we wouldn't be so easy to poke fun at!

    March 8, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. Barbara Warren

    I didn't find it funny. But then, I'm not a big fan of Polish, Irish, Italian or racist jokes either. I believe intelligent people don't need to resort to belittling others to be funny.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • JDUB

      A Polock, an Italian and a Jew walk into a bar... Just kidding...

      March 8, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  15. Michelle

    I think this is funny...and yes, I'm a woman. People need to stop being so sensitive.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Thanks!

      Thank you for reading the lable and seeing it for what it was meant to be... a flipin' JOKE!!!

      March 8, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
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