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. pete

    Actually the article text is incorrect. In the UK, they are not known as pants but rather Trousers. Pants actually refer to a person's underwear.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dan

    Regarding the first sentence of this article, I wish someone would "Set off a firestorm" in my trousers :))

    March 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. breezin

    It wouldn't be so offensive if it said, "She knows what to do" rather than "It's her job." Sarcasm comes across poorly in the written word.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeJe

      What they wrote is right. It is after all Woman's job. There is nothing wrong in that. it is their job to cook,clean and laundry.I don't mean it in a wrong way. They are good at it. They suck at other things. In offices all they do is to arrange get-togther and clean coffee machines.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sandra S

    Where can I get a pair of the trousers?

    March 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. pat

    I say grow up and lighten up! I'm a 67 yr. old woman married for 47 yrs. to a man and if he said the same thing to me, I'd laugh and hand him the trousers, then he would laugh and go do the laundry! I don't feel threatened or demeaned by a label..the pc garbage is just over the top!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. renn

    I did not miss the irony that she was in fact picking up after her boyfriend when she read the label.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. I Mass Debate

    another thing for people to whine about.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Riri

      Emma Barnett, she is a British "journalist". What do you expect of "journalists" who do'n't find a subject to write on? Madhouse should be proud about it and sincerely thank her for the worldwide free publicityand stop apologizing !!!!.

      March 10, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • CommentWanderer

      The funny thing is, in the U.S. the graduation rate in colleges is higher in women than in men. Wonder who is in their place now?

      March 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. =MAD MAN=

    Genius Marketing Strategy!!

    March 9, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Uhlouis

      Seriously!
      I bet their sales have skyrocketed.

      March 10, 2012 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. katie

    eh...I found it entertaining. I don't mind taking care of my husband. He takes care of me. 🙂

    March 9, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dan

    I will be importing some MadHouse pants. I support funny!

    March 9, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  11. Chris

    She found this while she was doing her boyfriend's laundry. So what was wrong with the tag? :-p

    March 9, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Viper4486

      best reply ever! haha

      March 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • bg1789

      case closed.

      March 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. John

    I'm kind of surprised no men have complained yet that it implies that men are not smart enough to follow washing instructions.

    It was a joke, and a good one at that.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John

    I'm kind of surprised no men have complaint yet that the label implies that men are not smart enough to follow washing instructions.
    It was a joke, and a good one at that.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John48836

    I am kind of surprised that no men have complaint that the label implies that men are not smart enough to follow washing instructions.
    It was a joke, and a good one at that.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      I agree!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      March 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gary

    My bet is the pants and the tag were manufactured in China; I see things like this all the time from items manufactured in China.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
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