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

    Not funny given the history and, in some cases, the present.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ta2Freak

    Geez people get a sense of humor! Its hilarious and I am a woman...people offend to easily, and so what if you are offended, keep your mouth shut and move on...are you really going to let it get to you. If you are than I truly feel sorry for you

    March 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • jesse89

      You are a woman who thinks it is humorous to have a company tell the world its your job as a woman to clean clothes. Don't feel sorry for me, feel sorry for yourself.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobbyBrick

      @jesse89 – the fact that you are so upset by a small little tag inside a pair of men's pants that is so obviously a joke designed for the men wearing them....makes you sad. Grow up, lighten up and try to live it up instead.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shelly

    I wonder how the girl found the label...was she doing the laundry? LOL! I think its funny and I am a woman, employee, mother, wife and doer of the laundry. People should relax...and if you don't like something, don't buy it. We are quickly becoming a society were freedom of speech is becoming more of a suggestion than a right. Relax and get over it.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rob

    The tag is funny. People need to get a sense of humor. Gas prices are nearing $5. Iran is building nuclear weapons. The national debt is $15 trillion and this is what people get upset about???? How absurd.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • russell

      thank you

      March 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MZ

    They should've said, "Give it to your woman. We don't trust YOU with this."

    March 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. emma

    I hope it says ton the dinner bill: "Let the man pay, that's his job."

    March 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Of course it's his job. He's the one out earning the bread.

      Get a grip. And a sense of humor. I laugh when I hear somebody take a playful jab at my gender. Learn to do the same and life will be more enjoyable.

      Now get back to the kitchen and fix me some eatins', woman.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ashley

    My husband washes the clothes, and I fold them. Big deal. Sure, it was meant to be a joke, but it obviously offended a lot of people, which isn't good for business. I personally, laughed when I read it.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nate

    Brilliant...just brilliant. My wife and I believe in keeping the traditional, but I do my laundry sometimes as well as the dishes. This is just humorous.

    @Katie "I dunno, the last time I checked my job was an IT manager at a major corporation. Don't see how this is funny."

    Katie, you'd think an IT manager at a major corporation would use better grammar and spelling. I'm an IT manager at a major bank, and this still rocks my socks...or washes them. Either way, your job really shouldn't make this funny or not funny unless your occupation is being a feminist. Also, comparing this to terrorism is just asking for trolling.

    Grow up people, and start laughing a little.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Powerlifter165

    So to all you women out there that think "gender roles" are in the past and are so offended by this. When was the last time you asked a guy out for diner and picked up the check?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      I ALWAYS pay for myself, thank you.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buck

      Alyssa, you didn't answer the question.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      @Buck, based on my post the answer should be obvious. People should pay for themselves.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buck

      Alyssa, you act like there's something wrong in paying someone else's meal. Paying for someone's meal is just a way of saying thank you for the company and that you like that person. What's the big deal? You must be loads of fun to hang out with based on your comments.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      @Buck, you sound like a winner too.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buck

      Alyssa, you should know that my wife hasn't complained yet. She also laughed at the label....then she told me to get back to my laundry duty. She actually has a sense of humor which unfortunately is something you seem to be lacking. FYI, we share laundry duty.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elexsor

      @Alyssa: Based on your answer you are selfish. So you are saying that you have never picked up the bill with your girlfriends? Bought them a drink? A man that pays is being chivalrous and generous. Sometimes when I go out with my girl she pays. Not because it is her turn but because she wants to treat. Alyssa you always pay for yourself and never for them because you are selfish and self-centered and thus the point. When was the last time you opened a door for a man as opposed to expecting the man to hold the door open for you and you walk through? When was the last time a man opened the door for you and you said thank you as opposed to just walking through? When was the last time you walked through the door and didn't even bother to hold the door open behind you when someone was walking up behind (and even if they did they would still walk through first as opposed to hold the door open from the outside)? I see women do this all the time. Why because I think they have in part become selfish in the fact that they expect that a man should do for them or that they should go first. Them doing it the other way around is rare. They either do it for themselves or not at all but very rarely for a man. Like I already pointed out. Women will buy their girlfriends a drink at the bar but rarely do you see them buy a guy a drink. Which even in itself is also funny. Most guys will just get a simple beer usually the cheapest drink there. Not that expensive but a woman will often get some fancy drink that will have a high price. I've even watched women up the price of the drink when they see a guy offer to buy them a drink.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Logan

    Sheer Awesomeness. I'm sorry, women, but you get to say anything to dudes about everything from cleanliness to etiquette and small, harmless jab like this is just for fun! Come on now! This world of ours is becoming so tight strung and finding offense on every nit picky thing that life in some ways is losing its lightheartedness. I'm a dude, and I give women full respect, but learn to take a joke and not just dish 'em! Peace ya'll! Life's too good to take heart to everything, use some logic for once and not just emotion; obviously this was just a joke!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BobbyBrick

    It a pair of pant FOR MEN. It had a little joke FOR MEN. Ladies..relax. I have been washing my own pants since I was 14 and after 12 years of marriage I still do my own laundry, or it would never get done.

    Remember, as Bo Burnham once said " for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 70 cents.....and that's just not fail. It only leaves the man with .30"

    March 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mike k.

    Since I've been married I haven't done laundry once. Nor has she paid for a single car repair (I do them). I gave up on cooking; she gave up on plumbing. I pay for insurance; she picks up the bar tab. Magical.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jimmy

    What a marketing idea. I think it's brilliant!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Himey

    If women would go back into the home, where they should be, then strangers , or no one, what ever the case may be, wouldn't be raising our children. Think about all of the social change in our school systems and society in general since women hit the work force full on. Kids grow up angry today. Cuz nobodys there.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      And why can't their daddies be there?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      I agree, Himey. 200,000 years of social evolution produced the common social structure that existed without fail till the last fifty or so years. The information Age is the only reason there has been a drastic shift. Give it another fifty years, things will have reverted (thanks to energy loss) and the world will be back to normal.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. PD

    Hilarious. Obviously a joke – especially since only about .01% of us men bother to read laundry instructions anyway. Seems doing her boyfriend's laundry is a bit of a sore spot for her so she couldn't see the obvious attempt at humor ("Give it to your 'woman'????" Haha, lighten up.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
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