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. big D

    Get in that kitchen woman

    March 8, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. NorCalMojo

    ....and women wonder why men avoid commitment.

    God forbid you improve a man's life in any way. That would be degrading!

    March 8, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Pathetic05

      And men wonder why women avoid men.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg Kells

      Who ever said we wonder why women avoid us? I wish women would avoid me more, my wife would be much happier too.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. Hannah

    I'm hardly offended, after spending four years in the Marine Corps this is casual banter. As a woman in service I learned to brush off such "offenses" and focus on the bigger picture. Honestly, starving children in Africa and the nuclear threat to our country deserve our attention, not this, definitely not this.

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

      waaaaaaaaaah 🙁

      March 8, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg Kells

      What nuclear threat? The only people with missiles that could reach us are bending over to kiss our feet. If you're talking about Iran, don't buy the hype. They don't have a nuke, or even the ability to make one, even if they did, they wouldn't have the means to deliver the payload. Starving kids in Africa deserve some concern, but not the threat of nuclear annihilation.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. justin

    I could see why some women would find it offensive, but it may be more of a jab at men. It's kind of saying go ahead and follow these instructions or if you're not smart enough to do it give it to your woman. Kind of the same way the woman expects the man to do the dirty work around the house.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Hannah

      I love where your head is at Justin. See, it's not so bad. Pretty silly all around if you ask me.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    That's hilarious! If a company has the balls to put that on their product in today's "please don't offend my delicate sensibilities" world, I'm all for them.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • magnus

      my advice is for this guy to leave this woman. either that or butt pound her

      March 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tutuvabene

    Oy Vey!! Get a life. There are more important things to get your knickers in a knot about.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dave

    The funniest part is that she was doing his laundry at the time.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      I had the same thought, LOL!

      March 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brawndo ThurstMutilator

      "The funniest part is that she was doing his laundry at the time." HAHAHAHA! It's funny because it's true!

      March 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      Oh, the irony! 😛

      March 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Elaine

    If my husband or I had found this label in a pair of pants, we would have laughed our heads off! Learn to recognize dry humor, people! Not everything comes with a "winking" emoticon. If you don't find the statement "it is her job" to be so incredibly absurd that it is instantly (albeit darkly) funny, then I am worried about you, not the label.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. CounrtryCalifornia

    I think people should lighten up. Society has become way too sensitive.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. ekim

    why is she picking up his pants in the first place? If she picked up the pants, she probably does his laundry anyway

    March 8, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. chetxiv14

    I have been told several times by my woman – "don't even touch the washer and dryer!" – " you don't do it correctly" etc. i even get in trouble for folding the towels wrong when it comes out. so... have a laugh at us – the fumbling men who can't seem to keep a nice garment nice even if we try ! Imagine, washing on hot – adding bleach – ironing it stiff ... it would be faded – have little white balls all over it from going in with the socks – and the shoulders would be shiny from the iron – while the rest stayed soft. I'm off with my hammer now to fix a fence post in the yard. and when my pants come back dirty, they will go into the hamper labeled "work clothes" – because that stuff get a whole treatment all it's own in our house. as do the delicate lady bits – the kids stuff and sheets and towels whites – not so whites – and colors – then darks – there are about 700 ways to do laundry it seems... and i for one would hate to be with out my woman 🙂 have a laugh at the boys here too... dummies all when it comes to some things..

    March 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. HAHA

    Why does a bride wear white?
    So she will match the stove.

    Why does a bride smile while walking down the aisle?
    Because she knows she's given her last bj.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • HAHA

      So who gets the last laugh?

      March 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ssdwcc

    I'm confused – women obediently shave their bodies and look like clones to please men so why the out-cry over this. Women willingly allow themselves to be objectified with the shaving yet a comment like this draws their ire.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Just shave it - it's your job!

      March 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nick

    I am OUTRAGED! How is she suppose to know to go to the kitchen and make me a sandwhich after shes done with the laundry? WHY IS THIS NOT ON THE LABEL!!!

    March 8, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Portland tony

    Almost 1300 comments on a label in a pair of pants! Makes you wonder about the intellectual capacity of CNN's bloggers! And it was just a joke!

    March 8, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
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