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. Bleach power!

    Hilarious come back for the women– a whole bunch of bleach on these pants. Funny and fun!

    March 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Red

    What is this reporter doing out of the kitchen?

    March 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kark

    Did anyone else notice "would never of been" in the company's response? That employee would not HAVE touched my Twitter feed ever again.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Andrew

    Do I take it serious? No. Is it funny? Yes. Lighten up'll live longer.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. E

    The clothing should remember that not all women do laundry. In my house, my wife and I equally do the laundry along with the cooking and the cleaning. Must be a rare thing apparently.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Common Sense Please

      wuss, I bet your wife wears the pants and straps on too.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • squawks

      @Common Sense Please - How's that wife beating t-shirt fitting, and that bottle of beer?

      March 8, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • TisJustMe

      You're missing the point. The admonishment to get your woman to do the laundry is a joke and not an oversight. Folks who bounce off the walls over this seriously need to pull the stick out of their caboose and chill out. They are getting wound up over this? Seriously? It kinda makes the case for medicinal marijuana.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      Do you both get the mensies at the same time, too?

      March 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • d13904

      @squawks – weak bro.

      why is everyone so GD uptight about EVERYTHING? the fact is there still ARE gender roles. the day my girlfriend collects and takes out the garbage, unclogs a drain/toilet that i didn't clog, or picks of after the dog in the yard is the day that i'll do the laundry.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Spider

    If your boyfriend believes this – he shouldn't be your boyfriend.

    If your boyfriend doesn't believe this – don't get bent out of shape about it.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana In New Orleans

      Amen Spider!! I thought it was cute and funny!

      March 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. slobro

    People around the world hate the west for ruining their women.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      People around the world equal rights for women because fear losing the privileges they enjoy by oppressing women.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MajorMajor

    People who have to remind us that "they can take a joke" can't take a joke.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chris L

    HAHAHA i want a pair .... my wife would get so mad at me doing laundry ... i dont seperate i use the same detergent and most time i dont even use dryer sheets because i dont understand the point of them and hate the smell.... so i can most def see the humor

    March 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • tommas

      Yep, I can and have done my laundry for years no problem. Until I got married now I can't go near the machines because I would "do it wrong"... hahaha, well I was doing it right enough that you thought I was attractive.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jannerl

    My husband did all the laundry in our house and I took care fo the yard. he cooked and I cleaned up after. We did it because we liked it that way. a little label doesn't bother us – I think it was tongue in cheek...

    March 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sy2502

    Misogyny is alive and well! Those who find this funny are the proof.
    Would anyone find it funny if it said "OR give it to your black slave"?

    March 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • squawks

      Isn't that the truth?

      March 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Even though my husband has done the laundry for years, I find it funny, but then again I find Reno 911 funny and AbFab hilarious. And yes, I don't believe for a minute the wording was a mistake. How sad to go through life so uptight as you are.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. I encourage woman to....

    I encourage woman to....discreetly put back a pair of horrendously dirty pants amoung the clean ones at the store.

    Let's show them we have a sense of humor too!

    March 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      You apparently don't. You just want revenge. Big difference.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Get over yourselves!!! Lighten Up!!!

    I thought it was pretty funny. Although I thought it would be funnier if it had said -

    Just Give It To Your Woman - She Won't Screw It Up!

    Would I be offended it my husbands saw said -
    Give it to your husband - he won't kill himself with it!
    NOPE. I would laugh my ass off!
    One of the problems of the world we live in today is that everyone is offended by everything. No one can laugh at themselves - everything has to be politically correct. Jesus, stop being offended by EVERYTHING. Remember, when EVERYTHING is offensive NOTHING becomes offensive. LAUGH PEOPLE!!!

    March 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jon

    Good grief . . . . If you're genuinely offended by this, please . . . for the sake of all that is good and holly . . . get a life.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MJ

    If I gave these to my wife to do, they would be bleached, burnt to a chrisp and yest some how still wet after they come out of the dryer. So yeah... Um This is still funny as hell and she agrees. You know why. I have a T-shirt with nearly the same thing on the lable.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
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