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. Don

    "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 apologize for this."

    The mistake was that you got caught with your pants down thinking that this would be funny instead of stupid.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Seriously?

    #Overreacting

    March 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Christy

    This is the best! I laughed so hard! I love it, love it! Let the true prevail. My husband never does the laundry!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheHalfBakedLunatic

      My wife, on the other hand, is a medical doctor and on the board of directors of a large healthcare organization – and she has no idea how to work a washing machine. That's my job.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cateyes7

    The REAL joke is WHY would they put such a label in a man's pair of pants? It's not like they read directions (or even ask) anyway, let alone follow directions!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick Santorum

      Good one Cate, my wife says that about me all the time.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott in Pgh

      Be careful, you might unintentionally offend us knuckle-draggers. 😉 Of course, you can always say the label was outsourced, and that you didn’t proof your post.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cateyes7

      Nah I found the label pretty funny anyway. I do the laundry anyway, so that my white shirts stay white and my jeans aren't bleached.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TheAbsoluteTruth

    Take that Gloria Allred! Now do my dishes too!!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Duh

    hahahahahahaha...anyone that finds this offesive is uptight. These are guy's pants. For goodness sakes, why worry about it? If a woman's article of clothing said something funny about men, do you think we would be blogging and offended. No, we'd just be happy to be thought of, really.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ilovemycop

    Hilarious!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Thinks2010

    If you are already such a door mat that you are stuck picking up your boyfriends/husbands clothes, I guess there is no point in getting upset about this stupid label. If, on the other hand, you are not a door mat and your boyfriend/husband thinks it's okay to leave his clothes around for you to pick up, just forget about the washing instructions and don't worry about the label; just throw his clothes in the trash. Exception to this advice: be kind and pick up his stuff is he is ill. If he picks up after himself and you share the task of doing the laundry, relax and have a laugh at this silly label. If you are both slobs, laugh it off as well.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeffery S.

    It should have said: "Or give it to your Mama ... It's her job." That way, the ladies could laugh at 40-year-old men who still need mommy to do their laundry for them!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Seriously?

    No, the real joke is when your car doesn't work, who do you ask? Why don't you try reading those directions?

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

      you are soooo right!

      March 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rick Santorum

    i was hoping no one would notice until after the election. Damnation!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Amber

    LOL i'm a woman and this made me laugh. if you're so insecure with yourself that this offends you, take a deep breath. this was hilarious.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Matt

    Obviously intended as a joke, and the idea is clever, but the 'punchline' is pretty tone-deaf.

    If they went for something like "Machine wash warm.... blah blah blah, OR - Ask your girlfriend for help", it doesn't come across the same way. You get "Ha, ha, young guys are clueless about doing laundry" rather than "Ha, ha, women should stay home and clean the house because they're stupid".

    Ironically, my girlfriend's approach to laundry seems to be to throw everything in and randomly pick settings on the machine, and I'm the one that actually washes darks separately and dries my dress shirts on low heat...

    March 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mr. Black

    Which is more likely: that some pants company is trying to set women's role in society back to the 19th century, or that someone made a joke and printed it? Hmmmm, I'm going to have to go with the former. The latter just doesn't create any drama, and if there's one thing this world needs more of, it's creating drama out of NOTHING!

    Children are starving all over the world, but I'm supposed to get all up-in-arms over the tag in someone's pants? No thanks. If you want to get upset over something, pick something that matters.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. hehe

    A woman in this company's promotional and advertising department came up with it. See, it's working and the woman got a raise.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
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