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. Hikerstud

    My first wife died from eatin poison mushrooms and my second wife died of a broken neck ....cuz she would n't eat her mushrooms. My third wife does not do laundry and complains alot. Got mushrooms?

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

    Is that Rick Santorum's laundry?

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

      *clap* *clap* *clap*

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

      Oh, good one!!!

      March 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bleach power!

      Love.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chris Shark

    If this is our biggest problem, consider ourselves lucky. Also, go out and get a sense of humor! Take a page out of the UK playbook and be a little cheeky from time to time.

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

      WOW, people seriously need to relax, take a step back, read news on whats going on in other countries around the world and how its effecting us, this petty BS people are whining about is outrageous! There are REAL BIG issues that are threatening AMERICA. When I see this, I think to myself, wow, diamonds should fall out your butt!

      March 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bates

    All this is saying is "Man=stupid and will ruin pants, let the woman handle it." Sort of a double edge sword really. I love it though.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      No. It's actually saying "Man=intellectual, breadwinner, superior; Woman=subservient, domestic slave, order-taker."

      Good thing you're not my husband or the next label on you would be a "John Doe" tag on your toe.

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

      wow then I should feel ofended for the manuals that say give it to your man it's his job anyways. John deer 1985 manual said that. you don't hear men crying do you.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • bnakka

      @Karen if you assume you are disrespected than you probably deserve to be. Aren't you over reacting about putting a john doe tag?

      March 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Reilleyfam

    Unfortunately not. I'm lucky if she does HER laundry.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • lled789

      @ Reilleyfam - I am right there with you on this one. She thinks it gets cleaned by itself.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    Give her the hairy half.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SC

    Does anyone else see the humor in the fact that she was cleaning their apartment (picking up after the bf) when she found the lable and got all offended?

    March 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Vinnie

    funniest part is that she read this while "tidying up" her mans laundry.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John M

    Jeez. It's a JOKE, if people are *that* uptight, how are they going to survive in this world?

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

    Man this label has been out for years I use to have a sweater that say that. I had a lawnmower that the maintenance manual say's give it to your man it's his job anyways. Oh no!!! Maybe I should sue. Really get over it. It’s funny they are not the only ones to do so, let it go. I really thought it was funny when I ask my wife to check the service manual for something and she laugh and showed to me, I didn’t cry about it. no let’s put this in the paper.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sean

    THis is so old!... Pictures of this label have been out for months and months!...

    March 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Olaf Big

    Well, the lady is a journalist, she has to make a living and this was for sure an easy writing assignment guaranteed to make a splash. It is not any different in the U.S. Countering a joke with a joke takes more brainpower than exploding in righteous indignation.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sara Beane

    I love doing laundry. I'll do anything for my man

    March 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. disagreement

    Seriously. Women are more than welcome to sterotype men. We do not give 2 damns. Feminist is just another word for succubus.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. lled789

    "British journalist Emma Barnett picked up her boyfriend's pants while tidying the house." - That right there proves it is a womens job. She was picking up his dirty clothing. He has her trained. Good job!!!

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