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. chetxiv14

    dear grammar police : case and point on the "let's waste a lot of energy and time on crap that is beside the point of the message intended.

    pet peeve = understood – noted and agreed

    when the intention is to write as if spoken and add vowels for inflection etc. ... you'r missing the whole part about text speak and the intent of the post. 5 post on topic + 20 about who misspelled what ... real waste of my time to read it actually... i knew what the incorrect post meant and moved on – even giggled a little. ever been to a laundry mat ? all day with everything you own on a weekend ? get a life proof reader – i hear they are hiring at the pants label company actually...

    March 8, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Liz in Seattle

    Yeah I snickered a little bit too. But if I noticed that label in the store on a pair of pants for my man I would put them right back on the shelf and buy something else.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Buying clothes is your job!

      March 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sheila

    I am a Feminist, and I think this is hilarious! I like doing laundry, really. For those who don't, if your partner offends you by expecting you do to do their laundry, tie the pants around their neck. Done. LMAO This is a creative piece of marketing, don't take it seriously, embrace it and laugh.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joe


    March 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rod C. Venger

    Truth hurts I guess.

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

    How would she have see this if she weren't doing his laundry? Case closed.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • wendy

      so true!!! i'm a woman, and i'm not offended at all by the label. i think it's great! it could say 'give it to your mom' also. 🙂

      March 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. pman

    Who is affended? the woman for being smart enough to wash cloths correctly? or the man for being to dumb to know how to wash.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. xKS

    as a finance guy, this is awesome.

    for a few pennies to print on the tag, they are receiving millions worth of advertising.

    all thanks to a girl was outraged when she saw the tag while doing her boyfriend's laundry.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob Marley

    This gal should stay out of her boyfriend's pants if she doesn't like what she finds there.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • CW

      Are you the comedian Bob Marley? If so, I'd like you to know that I think you're hilarious.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. robinsondb

    With all the really awful crap going on in the world everyday..its nice to take time out to laugh at something for a change.
    Give me a break. I like a good laugh every once in awhile just to get away from all of the unbelievably horrible news I'm bombarded with every single day. Nothing wrong with a good laugh.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rich

    amen bro.......wasss up?

    March 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John in Oakland

    "The items would never of been put in our stores." At least the label was in English.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. nana

    Publicity stunt??? Everyone is now discussing this company so I'd say it worked.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Yes, really

    This makes me mad.

    They did it for the exposure, the viral marketing, the "Rush Limbaugh Shock Jock" factor... In "fashion" industries, like in Hollywood, in the end there is no bad publicity.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Anthony

    You know, in this economy especially, many people don't even HAVE a job... #BeThankful

    March 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
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