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. GPC

    Am I the only one getting fed up with all the PC BS we're subjected to when there are real issues to be dealt with?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      Am I the only one getting fed up that expecting respect for fellow human beings is constantly being called PC BS?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • UltraRunner24

      @Alyssa. Please, Lighten Up. Women today have more freedom and social adaptability than men will ever have. Get over the joke and learn to live a little. I don't see men blowing up when women mock sports or find jest in masculine activities. If you're stuck in the right's movement's of the 18th and 19th century, this is the 21st, and modern generations are not those of time begone. More and more men are passing into aspects of feministic viewpoints, and this ultimately could destroy our civilization in an unspeakably short time. Respect men, and their jokes.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. A Thinker

    I'm trying to understand what all these women are doing with enough time to read twitter, CNN, or the like. There's chores to do! 😛

    March 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • funnyman

      good point

      March 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • GCoop


      Uh oh, here come the PC police... probably shouldn't have made that comment. Someone might not have a sense of humor...

      March 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dood

      LOL!!! Yeah, no doubt! There's laundry to do. Get to it, women!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • casey

      LOL!!!! love it! I am a woman by the way and i find it very funny. get over yourselves ladies, if you let dumb stuff like that get to you then u have it coming.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin Bieblet

      wow 4 positive posts and no one getting mad at this comment? there may be hope

      March 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caron Speas

      Casey and the others on this thread must be under fifty years old. Don't remember the days when women couldn't vote? Don't remember when men treated us like second class citizens? Don't remember when men thought women were airheads and the only thing we were good for was cooking, cleaning and child rearing? Don't remember that the only jobs we were allowed to have was secretary and maid? Don't remember when women who demanded the right to vote were put in straight jackedts and lobotomized? Don't remember that women could not own real estate or divorce their husbands? Remember arranged marriages between teenaged girls and old men? Remember when we were merely one of a man's possessions? It's not funny. Period. You all sound like spoiled little brats who were handed life on a silver platter.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    Really though, it should have said "give it to your mom," because if you're the kind of person who gets a kick out of that joke, you're still living at home.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Desiree

      Nicely said!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandy

      no...the ones who dont even get the joke are the ones whose mothers ARE their women! LOL

      March 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |

      Nope. Last time I checked I live with my wife and 3 kids. This article is still hilarious and it's good to see you are in touch with your feminine side Bob. You go girl.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. funnyman

    my lawn mower instructions say "make your man do this".

    March 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • TAK

      Excellent point. When was the last time you saw a modern liberated woman mow the lawn? Or fix a flat tire? Or connect the home theater...? I'm sure women are perfectly capable but it's still ok to consider those men's chores.

      If it's truly about equality then I'm all for it. If it's about getting out of doing chores... stop the hypocrisy please.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cateyes7

      Hey, I do mow the lawn and also installed my own modem and router for both computers to access the internet.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. GCoop

    I'm not sure what I'm amused more by, the tag itself, or how uptight people get over harmless fun. It seems like everyone is looking for a reason to be offended. Grow up, stop taking yourselves so seriously, and enjoy life, even if the joke's at your own expense once in awhile.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John

    Oh, please. look ... Here in the US, we have this thing called a "joke." It often involves saying or printing something that you do not in any way believe to be true – but rather is said with the intent of sharing humor. Anyone who sees this label as anything more than a joke is trying too hard to be offended. Sorry, but that's the truth. It's a JOKE.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      Any anyone who is not offended is oblivious to the larger problem.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I found this really, really funny.
      Some people are just too serious; women who take this as anything other than a joke need to lighten up.
      I'm still amazed that people would get huffy over this; clearly the label was in jest!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin Bieblet

      sorry, but the US has the biggest whiners

      March 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • funnyman

      @Alyssa evidently people like you without a sense of humor are the problem. now go cook me dinner woman! lol

      March 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. J

    I have seen this tag for years, it's not this crappy british company's product. It's in american brands as well. Grow up. Deal with it. Stop being so insecure in your new 'progressive' womanly duties... a journalist hah!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SugaMomma's funny. Flattering to some men I guess...the assumption that they can even GET a woman! I have a sense of humor...AND a husband who won't let me launder his clothes because I have been known to shrink things. Lighten up meanies!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dood

      I don't let my wife do my laundry because she can't figure it out, either. She'd wash whites with darks, colors, etc., everything together. Drove me crazy! So she does her own laundry and the kid's and I do mine myself. Now, if she'd only pick up her messes. Women are not the neat, clean creatures that are portrayed on sitcoms. Just the opposite, IMO.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerome Horowitz

      In our house it's whoever is in the laundry room when the hamper is full. Sometimes it's me, sometimes my wife. And we thank each other when the other does it. Weird, ain't we?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • GoBlue2326

      Jerome: Thanks for making me smile 🙂 Sounds like me and my husband!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff

    Huh, she found the tag while cleaning. Guess she was already doing her job.....

    March 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dood

      LOL, exactly what I was thinking! She's mad because she got caught.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • jwilly22

      lol hilarious!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin Bieblet

      she probably dropped the article of clothing in horror

      March 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Eric

    Can anybody say "Oooooover reactionnnnnn"? This is not news. Besides, washing, cleaning, cooking, and other housework has been the "woman's job" for millennia. It has only been post-WW2 that men began to participate in such activities. You can't expect 10,000 years of practice to be easily ended in 50 years.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ralph

    I have had a copy of that label in my "funny pictures" file for about three years. Is it just now coming to light to the general public? Where has everybody been?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dood

    That's funny because on a bottle of 5w-30 motor oil it says "give it to your man, he knows where it goes." It also says it on a tube of K-Y.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. George

    First – some people have no sense of humor.

    Second – This isn't new, I first saw this label sometime ago. Not sure why it is such a big deal now.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Katie

    I wonder if any of the people who find this kind of "humor" actually funny have ever been targets of discrimination, or belong to a group that used to be systematically discriminated against. My guess is NO. Big surprise.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • GCoop

      Nope, and neither have most of the people offended by this either. They just want to be mad about something...

      March 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dude

      "have ever been targets of discrimination,"

      Yes! I have.

      You're a man, fix my car.
      You're a man, pay for dinner.
      You're a man, make my computer work.

      And so on.

      To me, this joke is not "washing clothes is women's work". That would be uncalled for. The joke is "This stereo type is stupid". We are laughing at the stereo type.

      Look for a way to NOT be offended first. If there is a non-offending way to look at it, go with that and enjoy life. Then when something that is so offensive that there really is no excuse, your voice will have more power. Like Rush "The Junkie" Limbaugh's recent comments.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cpc65

    What I find even more shocking is the fact that there's still clothing out there that's actually NOT made in Pakistan, Honduras, Sri Lanka and such. Now their women know their place! (jk)

    March 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
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