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. Bill

    Wait, it ISN'T my woman's job to do my laundry?

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

      And your job is to mow the lawn, and fix the garbage disposal.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mike

    That's funny .. because it seems all the routine maintenance instructions in the owner's manual for my wife's car say "ASK YOUR HUSBAND".

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

      There's a bit of truth to this. My wife insists that if it has gears, wires, electricity, or screws, it's my job to keep it running.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • funnyman

      I will be happy to do the laundry if she maintains the yard and removes all the snow.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Paco

    it was just a joke... Lighten up, if you find small remarks as this offending then why don't you find names such as "geeksquad" or "redskins" offensive as well? Since when has implying that women should wash laundry been worse then that?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SueRH

    Funny!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anna

    This is funny! I am a woman, and I prefer to do the laundry, because most men don't know to seperate colors, check pockets, delicates, heavy duty, etc. It is a joke, and on a pair of men's pants, it's not offensive. If you are the type of man that really thinks like this, your "woman" already knows it, if your not that type of guy, then it's obviously a joke. Calm down people!

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

      They don't know how because they haven't learned. They haven't learned because they have more important things to do with thier time. You don't.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cosmic__Ray

      Awesome response, Anita. How hard can it be to "know" to check pockets?!?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ric Stevens

    It's Not right for a woman to read.. First she starts having Ideas... and THINKING....

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

      Thank you, Gaston! : )

      March 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kristine

      Ric, you are positively primeval!

      March 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • NOT ME

      You are stating the abviouse. What do you think God is pointing out the whole way through this article, starting with having a at least some what litterate woman writing it to the loin covering company peeing itself after angering said litterate woman.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TiredODaCrap

    Learn to take a joke, Brits!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bzarr

    I believe it was ment to be a joke. That said, I can see how some women would pitch a b!cth about it.

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

      some women will complain about anything just to hear themselves talk. Maybe this woman should have been doing more laundry or the dishes instead of writing this story. haha

      March 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jimmy Cracks Capricorns

    Nobody heard of this brand until today....Genius!!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMB

      It is absolute genius.. I now want a pair.... !!!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harkkonen4

      No kidding...negative publicity is still publicity.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JMB

    I am offended that ANYONE would take offense to this. Really people... do you honestly believe anyone would buy these pants expecting "their woman to wash them" because is states that ? My woman washes my clothes and my clothes DO NOT read that.. This is just pain stupid to talk about.. its no issue & they should be thanked for having some fun at NO ONE'S expense... move on

    March 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • NOT ME

      I MUST DISAGREE. I have wasted a good twenty minutes reading this article and the post posts. If they they were a little less light hearted and in need of a marketing ploy I would be closer to being done with my homework and would have time to go find myself a pair of these most glorious and soon to be holey jenes. Make that twentyfive minutes.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Amy

    I would have wrote
    "Google for instructions" that's much more useful

    March 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dchap

    Now that is funny!!!! With all the man bashing going on in the media it's time the ladies learn how to take it as well as dish it out. Yeah baby!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Christine

    People sitting around with nothing to do looking for ways to be offended would be offended by this. The rest of the population...you know, the ones with a SENSE OF HUMOR, find it amusing.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jwilly22

    I'm a woman and I think the label is pretty funny! why are people so uptight these days?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rose Flynn

    Good grief ladies!! It was meant to be funny...it's a wash tag for goodness sake. Who's going to see it???? It's not like they were making this big statement. As women, we have much bigger things to get upset about!!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
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