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. hingedlwnb

    So I'm guessing I probably shouldn't mention the note I found in a sandwich bag yesterday.

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

    its funny that she was "tidying the house" when she found it. she is upset because it came with instructions that she thought insulted her intelligence.

    what brand are they? i'd love to have a few pairs

    March 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joe

    As a man, I'm upset that "earning money" is my job. :\

    March 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve Bennett

    Funny, I have a picture of a similar tag that has "wife" instead of "woman." Its last modification date on my computer is 12/2006. This is not a new picture and I wonder if the label was even really found in the pants in question.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Geez

    Overreaction to something so trivial is a sure sign of insecurity, and the insecure are normally the ones who are repressed domestically, socially, or (most of the time) of themselves.

    Therefore, overreaction is confirmation that you see truth in that for which you are overreacting.

    My wife is nearly a bra-burning feminist and even she thought it was funny.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • jamie

      Seems fishy this story comes out on International Women's Day. Sounds like part of a complex viral marketing campaign.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • marragor

      Agree – as long as they've said "sorry"...I thought it was hysterical!! hahaha. I would have been screaming with laughter if I picked up my husband's pants and found that...too funny.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tee

      We all know it's because men can not do laundry correctly, mixing them etc!!

      March 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JackTors

    The label should read, "Give laundry to local chinaman."

    March 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TexBest06

    It's a joke people, it's supposed to be funny. Wake up, smell the coffee and get over it. This is the real world and if you're spending your time worried about something trivial like this than you have some bigger personal issues you need to deal with. Great marketing idea for this company, it obviously worked!

    March 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bleach power!

      I think it would really be the funniest if the women just used a whole bunch of bleach on these pants– Hilariously fun!

      March 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. HP

    "Emma Barnett picked up her boyfriend's pants over the weekend while tidying the house." How ironic.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cap'n

    Make no mistake, there was no mistake here. They knew exactly what they were doing, and are now reaping the benefits of their actions. The angry girlfriend just handed Madhouse millions of dollars worth of free advertising. Brilliant.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Randy S.

    I don't know My wife thought it was totally hilarious. I thought she would have been offended and she just laughed out loud.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. James.Storm

    Ahh quit complaining and do your job as a woman and wash that mans underwear. It's amazing how women think they are not suppose to be equals. While your at it go mow the lawn and give me a bl0w job.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniela

      Ok your reply really is stupid. I am a feminist but thought the pants thing was funny. You have to take it to a new level by being a jerk. Let me guess -you are single? Cheer up and give women a chance -we are all not what you think we are.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. James.Storm

    Ahh quit complaining and do your job as a woman and wash that mans underwear. It's amazing how women think they are not suppose to be equals. While your at it go mow the lawn and give me a bl0w job. JK 🙂

    March 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bird

    Glad to see the rest of the world has checked their sense of humor at the door. I was worried it was only America where making a joke is verboten.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Me123456789

    Why do so many people get offended so easily. If you don't think its your job to do the laundry, fine, don't do it. Who cares. Why the outrage? I think most women would defer to their man to mow the law or fix the fence...I don't see her being outraged if the lawnmower said 'Give me to your man. It's his job'.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sunflower

    And men scratch their heads (and other parts of their bodies) wondering why women often times find them so repulsive.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
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