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. rain time 5000

    Very funny. I am a man, I can change, If I have to, I guess. Courtesy of RED GREEN.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. Juan

    what's all the fuss? Our laundry is done by the cleaning lady.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. Les

    They should do the same with tools and garbage bags....let your man do it, it's his job.....

    March 8, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. T

    I think it's pretty amusing, but I've also seen ones that say or give it to your mom, so I get that its a joke and am not super uptight about it.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jason

    Do women not understand what misogyny means? I love women, I just also love having my laundry done. The day that women start sacrificing all their socialized privileges is the day I will consider removing my ideas about gender obligations. Stop crying about such trivial nonsense.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lighten Up

    "There was no attempt at wit... – this was a hidden message – or rather an order,"

    If the man sees that then gives it to the wonderful woman in his life that is willing to help him out. Then she will read that when she sees how to care for his pants. So it isn't really hidden. In the end it becomes an inside joke shared between the company, the man, and the helpful woman in his life.

    It is only hidden from the person who doesn't wash the clothes. At that point the launderer can decide who to share it with.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. jC in Western U.S.

    I hope these comments are coming from the UK.

    I would smile at the label, briefly – as I would be convinced that it was a joke. My husband does more laundry than I do but thinks instructions (and maps) are for cowards. He would never look at a laundry label. And that's why I would find it funny. I would think that the label was really directed at women, the people who do look at labels, and that the company was just acknowledging that most women do more laundry, and look at more laundry labels, than the men in their lives. If it's meant to be funny, it is – in a sarcastic sort of way. If it's meant to be serious, it is – and then it becomes insulting.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Lighten Up

      I agree the only person that sees the label is the one doing the laundry. If they made a label that said "Put the laundry down and go take a bath while your man does his own laundry!", I think there would be someone that gets mad because it makes the assumption that woman are doing the laundry. Jokes always offended the easily offended.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. Scottish Mama

    Bleach the hell out of it and give it back, or wash it in hot water with a new red t-shirt and make it pink. smiley face here.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Do you kiss your mom with that mouth? Do you use quell on your beaver? Nasty you are.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. crazypete

    My job. Why, you gotta problem with my performance? Jerk.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. James

    Hilarious – might have to order me a few pairs!

    March 8, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dave W

    My wife who is exceptionally gender liberated would prefer a tag reading 'Keep your hands OFF my

    People need to take a deep breath and spend some time fretting about the bombs that are going to be exchanged by ISRAEL and IRAN instead of how domestic chores get divided.....

    March 8, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. SeanM

    The label speaks the truth.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jessie

    As a woman – I still find this hilarious! I am a career woman, I've worked hard for respect in male dominated field, but you can't move up if you take yourself or this type of humor too seriously. I have better things to do like go spend some time in my kitchen bare foot and pregnant and laugh about those of you who can't get over something so trivial.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      More power to ya! I haven't showed this to my g/f yet, but when she sees it she's going to say something along the lines of "Damn right, give me those pants!!!" Lol. I think the tag is obviously a jab at the fact that men used to think that way. I think it shows that our world is finally moving in a direction where I can poke fun at everyone and not have to worry about useless insecurities. I reiterate; More power to ya!

      March 8, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jumper

    I am not offendedat all. There are some aspects of the house that GLADLY leave to men.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. mattyg

    I found this absolutely hilarious. People need to stop making a big deal about this. Funny enough, even though I find this amusing as all hell, I won't let my girl do my laundry because I'm very particular about how it's done in order to preserve my favorite clothes.

    On a serious note, when it comes to splitting up household chores, if one partner is better than the other at something, wouldn't it make sense to leave it to said partner? I can't cook worth a damn so I just enjoy my girl feeding me and make it up to her in other ways, like buying her clothes and other presents and doing other things for her that I may have some skill in. 😉

    March 8, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
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