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. Thirsty

    I find this whole thing to be quite amusing.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rhobere

    ANALYSIS:
    Assuming the company is serious and actually wanted to demean women, putting an insult to them on a tag that they think only a woman should be reading would be the equivalent of insulting america's obese population on the mcdonald's menu when clearly the seat of a bicycle would CLEARLY communicate the stereotype to people that would side with them. Writing "Laundry is for women" on the inside of a valve cover a box of Just for Men would probably be more effective if they were trying to convey an insult. In other words, if they meant it to be legitimately insulting, they wouldn't have put it somewhere that women would almost definitely see it (not because its their job but because the odds of no woman ever doing any man's job is unrealistic).

    what about the american company that sold clothes to canada that apologized for bush being an idiot on the cleaning instructions? That was OBVIOUSLY serious and no one made a big deal out of that over the last 8 years.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • rhobere

      my god I can't type to that. * any mans laundry* in the last line.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Eddie

    I do the dishes she does the laundry. Anybody got a problem with that?

    March 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. alemap

    That is a riot!...where can I buy a pair of those pants?

    March 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. wisdomVS

    ...or give it to a gay man, he'll do it right the first time, without whining and complaining!

    March 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • mbsamps

      ^ You are my hero

      March 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bleach power!

      Beautiful.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Fred

    Ahem! what was this woman doing when she noticed the label? Picking up her boyfriends pants? Picking up after her boyfriend!! Really doesn't sound like the type of person that should be offended by that label.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cindy

    As a woman, I don't mind the joke as long as it was just that...a joke. Unfortunately, there are some men in this country who still feel this way, who think Women's Lib is a horrible thing and equality for all is the downfall of society.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Primal

      It would fine if you really wanted to be equal, however, you don't. You want all of the special treatment plus equal treatment.

      When you hold the door open for me, pick up the check, toss your coat over a puddle, etc. then, and only then, will I care about equal treatment.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bleach power!

      You do nothing of the sort. When have you ever put your coat in a puddle for a women? I bet you'd just as rather stick it in a puddle and stick it in the laundry basket. Lame-o.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      Who says we don't do those things? I would draw the line at throwing my coat over a puddle because really, shoes are meant to get wet 🙂

      March 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Primal

      Sorry I bleach I do do those things. Hell I hold doors open for strangers. Anyway you are clearly an idiot so I am done with you.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Primal

      Sorry bleach, I do do those things. Hell I hold doors open for strangers. Anyway you are clearly an idiot so I am done with you.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Women earn 70% of the wages men earn. What equality? To hell with opening the door, I can do that myself. I want wage parity.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Janie

    I think it's funny, and honestly, if more women were to stay home and do their jobs, our country wouldn't be as screwed up as it is. You can't throw you kid in daycare 40 + hours a week, let someone who makes $7/hr raise them and expect them to be respectable young people.

    So tired of women having children and then running off to the workplace, yes there are a few exceptions such as single moms, or families where the father is disabled, but in reality, women either need to have children or work outside the home, not both!

    March 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      Wow...this is arcaic way to think...let me guess...you are either a military wife or a southerner, right?

      March 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      WE are all so sorry that it now requires two incomes to be able to maintain a place to live, buy food and clothes. Maybe we should just all take welfare and stay home with our kids. That is a great idea.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      My recently departed wife and I raised 8 children on one income, two of which are still in the home. She never worked outside the home. Was a great mom and we have a great family.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Janie

      Does it really REQUIRE two incomes? How about living within your means. I bet every woman that says that has 2 or 3 car payments, a big huge house they can't really afford, kids in every kind of extra curricular activity there is, etc. I live in a $300K house, drive a USED minivan, my husband drives a USED Ford Expedition, both our daughters are in dance, our son in baseball and we also are involved in volleyball. And guess what? We do ALL of that off my husbands salary. We lived in a 2 bedroom home for a very long time, he worked and I sacrificed as well. We saved up money and then increased our lifestyle. Most people are living way above what they need. Everyone should listen to Dave Ramsey and you'll understand what I'm saying.

      Those of you with children in daycare so you can work, sit down and figure out how many hours a week you actually spend with your child, it's not much I promise you, and it's less than the daycare spends with them.

      I didn't say a woman shouldn't WORK. I said outside the home. I own a jewelry business that I run out of my home.

      Yes I am old fashioned and I'm proud to be, I have a MAN that supports his family and wouldn't have it any other way. He spends his nights and weekends here with us, not on the golf course or at a bar with friends.

      It's all about priorities, and no it doesn't REQUIRE two incomes in this day and age, your lifestyle may because you're living above what you should, but paying daycare negates that whole argument of needing to work. Most people spend $800 a month or more on daycare, figure it out. You're income left over isn't helping your lifestyle.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bleach power!

      Janie, you are not cute. Harrassing others with your brainwashed mind is cowardly and aggressive.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • how about

      Your point is that some one has to be home to take care of kids and home...how about men do that while woman work outside of the home? I bet you will have a problem with that because women are not supposed to have a life.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • KJay

      Come on Cindy– I'm a military spouse and I work full time, so that's kind of rude to lump all of us together like that

      March 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      'If more women were to stay home and do their jobs'?

      Who says womens' jobs are at home, Janie? Since when is this the law of the land?

      Oh, it's not. You're parroting what you learned in church. Well, that's very good on Sundays and it was fine in the Stone Age which was when the Torah (the Old Testament) was written by men. Jesus was the first womens liberationist. He made women equal to men in their roles in the early church. Read the New Testament for yourself, it's so. Women had equal roles in the early Christian Church as long as meetings were held in homes. When church buildings began to be built, women's roles were again marginilised.

      There were other books written by women about Jesus and His Word that were excluded from the Bible. By whom? By men, Janie. You should study religion sometime. You'd learn a lot about the history of women in religion. Of course many men are afraid of educated women.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. toobad5050

    Who cares most woman do the laundry in the house, not always but usually. Who cares, keep it real and STFU feminist idiots

    March 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bleach power!

      Keeping it real and keeping it a man's world with this kind of humor is kinda sick. Hopefully someone of the man variety is helping you put things away back into the closets...

      March 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Roberta

    Loved it! Those who find it offensive should take a step back, take a deep breath, and lighten up.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jumba

    God get a sense of humor people. This is hilarious. I want a pair of these pants.

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

    It's called a joke. Stop being so freaking sensitive about everything. Here's another one. Why couldn't Helen Keller drive? ...because she was a woman. I would agree these jokes are offensive, if they weren't true. Maybe if they knew how to do laundry in the first place and didn't have to look at the tag for instructions no one would have found it. Let that be a lesson for you.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Janie

      Totally agree!

      March 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bleach power!

      What? You make no sense.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. killallthewhiteman

    If there were tags on garbage bags that said "have your man do it", I would not care.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jason

    If this offends you, I assume you are a deeply unhappy person looking for an excuse to get upset.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. kareful-kay

    I found this a little funny. I once bought a shirt from Hawaii that had hidden messages all over it. Pretty cool shirt. People take things too seriously.

    On another note, the author of this article can not spell very well.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
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