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. Peter

    There is a version here in America that says "Give it to your Mom..."

    March 8, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. Nianya

    Just BUY AMERICAN: My husband has no problem washing jeans or anything else.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. PM

    My Enjoi hoodie says "Dirty Laundry Keeps Women Busy" on it. Just saying.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. Beverly

    "Give it to your woman", I might be able to take as a joke. "It's her job" is not.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Common Sense PLEASE!

    I'm in SHOCK! How can we let this happen as we stand by idly. THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! I MEAN SERIOUSLY! How does a woman have time to tweet when her butt needs to be in the kitchen! Don’t lose focus on the real issues people!

    March 8, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  6. Adam

    Personally, I love it. Laundry is a woman's job. I'll get off my butt at home when it's time to shovel snow, take out the trash, stain the house, plunge the toilet, mow the lawn, change the oil, pick up the dog s***... Should I go on?

    March 8, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      And don't forget "kill the spiders"! LOL! That's in my job description, too, when it comes to household chores.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      Good Point.

      At my home, I probably do more than half of the dishwork, more than half of the cooking, I do ALL of the outside yard work, I probably clean more often than my wife and I do my own laundry.

      She does have a full-time job too though, earning a lot less than me as she is not a college graduate. It is a very good situation for her. I don't mind though. I love my wife and I want/need/live to make her happy. She raised a son by herself and is the opposite of selfish when it comes to her family; she is always there for them when none of them are ever there for her. Basically I am the only one that she has ever met that does more for her than what she does for me.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  7. JACK


    March 8, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  8. Common Sense Please

    It's a womans job.... my wife gets so mad when i do laundry. Let's not kid ourselves here ladies...

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

    I don't understand why this makes people so mad. I like being treated as the woman that is keeper of the home, caretaker of the children, and a helpmate to her husband. I guess it makes the women that have struggled for a career mad, and I can understand that, but is it THAT horrible that it is put on the front page of CNN?

    March 8, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  10. Zabilde

    This is an old joke. I've had a similar image in my screen saver images file for years now. If this is real and not just a joke, then I'm betting the Asian sweatshop that produced the pants realized they needed a laundry instructions label in english, and went on-line to find one. They found this one and put it in the pants. The company selling them most likely had no knowledge of this label.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Les

      Exactly what I is rather funny though....

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

    I wouldn't be surprised to learn this is a hoax just like that newport beach restaurant receipt.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. DeeNYC

    I did laundry once, I'm no longer allowed to buy wool sweaters.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  13. john

    They sell ' lives' at Walmart ..... GET ONE. Funny how woman can joke about men not wanting to stop and ask directions but ok for them to crab about a joke about them .. IT'S A JOKE .... GET OVER IT .

    March 8, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. Female

    I took it as men can't do laundry correctly.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      That's the oldest trick in the book. Do you really believe your man is too lame to do laundry? Think about it.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jeffrey P

    This is funny, pure and simple. If your a women and your offended by this, I have a suggestion. Take a straw pole of male friends and have them rate they're ability to do laundry without have cloths shrink or bleed onto other cloths. I was single for years before marriage and have been single for several years after my marriage and my laundry before and after was never done as well as when I was married. She couldn't cook worth a crap mind you, if I wanted that I did it myself, LOL. My laundry skills I would rate a 4 on a 10 point scale only because I wash everything in cold and in one of three groups. What I determine as light(always guessing) Dark and whites(which is easier to screw up than you would imagine). So seriously people, some steriotypes are actually pretty factual and as sensitive as some women can be, deep down they all know they rock our world in the laundry department, so cheer up, lifes not so bad, don't be offended, be happy you mop the floor with us at something. 🙂

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