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. NoHumorforAnyone!That'sanorder!

    I suspect this was an attempt at humor, by the manufacturer. I personally am never going to buy these jeans – that's my wife's job! Ok, ok, that was a joke in poor taste, I know. This world's going to really stink when we remove all the humor for fear it might be politically incorrect. Can't we all just agree to lighten up and live?

    March 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kenny of Salt

    Is the problem with the label itself, or with the fact that the lable was discovered by a woman whilst doing her man's washing?

    Has any man in history ever looked at the washing instructions on an article of clothing, other than when prompted by his woman?

    Where is the unsung anarchist that designed the label?

    these questions and others brought to you by my third cup of coffee this morning

    March 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hobbes1963

    Much ado about nothing. If you don't like the label, don't buy the clothing. Anyone who can't see that this was done in humor is not worth discussing it with...and since it was done in humor, there is still nothing to discuss. It's funny that the female commentator here kept repeating 'It's not a gender issue"....well, why make it one, then? Hmmmm?

    March 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • J in Denver


      March 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mis

    sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me...seriously people why is this news!

    March 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. J in Denver

    I find it amazing that people are so eager to be offended. Look, laugh, move on.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • paullubbock

      seriously, it was funny. If the lady doesn't want to wash or buy them then DON'T. There are far more important things in this life to be worrying about some humorous tag. jeez

      March 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Common Sense

    Really, this is unbelievable. It was humor by the company. It says to Give It To Your Woman, nothing more. Let the 'Woman' wash it with bleach, I bet he won't do it again.

    Get over it people, there are bigger issues than humor in a label.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Virginia

    I thought it was brilliant.
    It is inside the clothing. If you don't like the label but like the clothes, remove the label and get a life.
    They should start a new trend with machine wash alternative statements. Machine Wash or:
    – if you have no woman to clean it, get a girlfriend
    – burn it and buy a new one
    – don't get it dirty in the first place
    – support your local laundromat
    – swap it out with your roommates
    – swim with it at the local pool until clean
    – donate to goodwill
    – not to wash, that is the question

    March 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • denim

      YES!!! We need more of what you just posted: humor. People with a sense of humor make this world easier to bear.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      She found it while doing his laundry.... classic

      March 8, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Grandma

    That's because "your woman" is SMART ENOUGH to know HOW to do it...

    March 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • SJ

      I think that is exactly what was meant

      March 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • SJ

      Plus, do men get mad about the expectation to mow the lawn, or do they get mad if the woman wants to do it?

      March 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. EaglesQuestions

    Oh, stop it.

    I'm female, and I think it's cute, stupid joke (you know; the way guy-jokes almost ALWAYS are). It's on the tag because it's a little private joke directed toward the man that owns the garment.

    I'm a woman that works in I.T., for pity sake!
    Is the so-called "women's place" really such a sensitive issue, anymore?

    Such drama.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Betty

    My husband does the laundry in our family. (I can't stand laundry – I'll do any other chore BUT laundry.) I think it's hilarious. I agree with the post by Virginia about starting a trend with the other tags (Give it to goodwill, burn it, etc.) I can understand how some people would find it offensive, and I applaud Madhouse for addressing the problem promptly and admitting that they should have used better judgement for the folks who had a problem with it.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    You know, I could write a whole post about the role women play in a changing world economy, blah blah, but I'm not going to....

    It was funny.
    I laughed.
    If this is the worst thing that is offensive, people are REALLY getting thin skinned....

    March 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Grieg

    Given the dry sarcasm for which Britons are famous, I would expect that this was indeed intended as a shot, not at women, but at those few who still think the way the label suggests.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Good point.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mrChaseIam

    The label is funny! People need to loosen up...

    March 8, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Serious Person

    Did any of the offended women stop to think the guys should be the ones offended at the fact people think they're too dumb to do laundry?

    March 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fletcher

    As the only boy in a family with 5 sisters (4 of them older) I can see how the label would offend some people. On the other hand... It's a lable on the inside of the garment, completely out of site so obviously it was not meant as a direct attack against women & it is FUNNY AS HECK. Come on people lighten up. We all know how small minded shovenistic pigs are so why not let them have their fun. We gotta let pranks like this simply roll off our backs with a smile & a chuckle. I'm sure we all have bigger things to worry about.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58