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. LOL


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

    Why this should be offensive? My husband is a very smart man but can't do laundry

    and folder the clothes the way I do. He is not allow to be close to the washer and dryer in our home.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. Will

    FINALLY! Something that actually makes sense in this distorted, liberalized, feminized Western culture we live in.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. Neal

    That's an outragous label. Colour spelt without a "U".

    The horror!

    March 8, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. Just me

    Next pants label might say "Get the man to buy it for you because it's HIS job".

    March 8, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. Zputergal

    I thought it was hilarious! If someone is simple minded enough to think because the label says it that it applies, they are simply an idiot. Take it as the joke it was supposed to be and move on. The UK and every other country has far more important things to worry about than what the tag says inside your mans pants.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sherry P

    I so love that tag! I wish I could find a pair of these pants for my husband.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  8. Woman town 897456

    This is totally funny especially since its INTERNATIONAL WOMANS DAY!

    March 8, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Forged

    This is funny since it is also INTERNATIONAL WOMANS DAY today.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • 7 + 1

      Funny, same thought

      March 8, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. kayaker247

    so if there was a label on a hammer (or a gas pump) that you should hand it to a man, cause that's his job, would there be a similar outcry from men? no! hahaha....

    March 8, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. don't shoot me I'm a moderate

    Where has everyone's sense of humor gone? Harmless jokes about men and women have been around for years. People, lighten up and laugh at yourselves a little. Life is too short for mortal combat about every little thing.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. David

    I love it! The most wonderful woman in the world washes my clothes – I love her, and could never do it as well as she does.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • big D

      your whipped

      March 8, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg Kells

      Yeah, your mom is awesome.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. The tag is horrible!

    They forgot step 2: Make him a sandwich!

    March 8, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |

    IT is a bad sign that people have the time or choose to waste the energy decrying something that they could just ignore. Anyone that is offended or directed to become a subservient based on the text printed on a laundry label inside a pair of pants deserve all the angst they get.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. Pathetic05

    Quippy, funny, interesting....

    However, I would construe it as insulting. As a woman, I get tired of being pigeon-holed into assumed duties or chores. What was the point of putting such ignorance on a clothing label. It is in bad taste. Not a good marketing tool unless you want to appeal to a knuckle-dragger.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      or to people that don't get offended over clothing labels.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Pathetic05

      Tony....I say, let's make it a bumper sticker and really get the message out there about gender roles.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg Kells

      Or to people with a sense of humor. Laughing at juvenile humor doesn't make you a "knuckle-dragger".

      March 8, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • jim

      @Pathetic05 Your name is well chosen. You are obviously in great need of a real life!

      March 8, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58