The UK’s clothing company MadHouse is under fire now for producing ‘sexist’ washing instructions on a label. On a pair of beige chinos sold by Madhouse, the printed label states the standard washing instructions, which is then followed by “Or give it to your woman: It’s her job.”
The instructions were found by British technology writer Emma Barnett of the UK’s Telegraph. She noticed the label in her boyfriend’s pants while cleaning her apartment.
“If the comment had been remotely funny, I would have been the first to laugh and shrug it off, as it really wouldn’t have bothered me enough to photograph it, tweet it and then write about it,” Barnett wrote.
“But it was the lack of any implied humor and the horrible surprise of such an incongruous message hidden away inside some trousers, that left me just plain stunned.”
She kept on explaining: “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.”
The Telegraph writer found out that her boyfriend bought the pants from Madhouse, a discount men’s store in England, but did not name the brand. The store’s website claims that it carries and sells a number of brands.
“The chinos in question are manufactured by a jeans brand that we stock but the care instructions on this product were not proofed by our buyers who normally concern themselves with quality, style and price of the products they order,” Madhouse posted today on its Facebook account. “The first Madhouse was aware of the care instruction on this product was today.”
The statement writes that the wording on the label was not “instigated or ordered” by the store. “The wording is clearly meant as a joke but now it has been pointed out to us it is something we will need to be more careful about in the future,” the store said.
As the news spread, many people took to Twitter to discuss the controversial label. One user wrote “How dare #Madhouse this is 2012 not 1950s.” Vanessa Truskey, a publicity executive, commenting on the Madhouse trouser label, tweeted: “Lately I can’t tell which decade I’m living in. What brand are those trousers?! I can only assume that’s a joke.”
Julia Hines, the chair of charity Age UK in Barnett, London, agreed, writing: “That is extraordinary! Name and shame the brand (presumably shopping is also women’s work).”
However, certain Twitter users thought the ‘advice’ was light-hearted and funny. Paul Reeves, Surbiton, tweeted: “I literally cannot see why people are so upset by a bit of humour in some trousers.”
“Personally, I think the “Give it to your woman label” in the Madhouse trousers is funny, and my girlfriend would laugh about it too #relax,” agreed another user.
As The Daily Mail reveals, Holly Combe, from feminism website, The F Word, commented: “It would be effectively ironic and ‘just a joke’ if it weren’t for the fact that all too many women do still find that domestic tasks are still considered their job, regardless of the employment status of both partners.”
“Instead, I think it’s a case of the usual double irony, where we have to pretend something is ironic when the undercurrent of the joke actually serves to put us in our place and persuade us not to offer any critique if we want to be seen to ‘have a sense of humour,'” Combe added.