While picking up the clothes her slovenly-sounding boyfriend had strewn across the floor, British journalist Emma Barnett noticed that the label of said boyfriend's pants offered a quirky suggestion for washing the pair of pants whenever it accumulated an intolerable amount of floor grime: Give it to your woman.

Barnett promptly tweeted a picture of the label — a creation of aptly British clothing company Madhouse — and followed that up with an incisive critique of the sexist label in the Telegraph, in which she correctly observes that whatever lip service Madhouse pays to its attempt at "humor," embedded in the label was a

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.

Most of Barnett's readers agreed, taking the company to task for disseminating a harmful — and totally ridiculous — message about a fading (at least in the West) patriarchal order that still lets out an atavistic grunt every so often to let everyone know that it's not happy about being increasingly ignored. Some, however, were keen to see what was surely intentional humor:

But then, cue the predictable minority chorus of men telling me to "lighten up" and "learn how to take a joke" and the women who love to be 'one of the boys' and live in fear of being called a ‘feminist', informing me of how "hilarious" the message was. One man told me not to "get my knickers in a twist" - which albeit patronising, was at least an attempt at humour.


Madhouse hasn't responded directly either to Barnett or any other calls for comment, but it has been tweeting passive aggressively in agreement with some of its supporters. "Glad to see that someone has found it funny," one tweet reads. "We did not instigate this and the labels on supplied jeans will be proofed better."

Except that Madhouse did instigate this and is now receiving the misguided approbation of all those troglodytes who find the label at all funny or who genuinely believe that label speaks the truth and revel in the dig at feminists everywhere. However, as Barnett points out, the label wasn't "remotely funny" — if it had, she would have laughed. "But," she writes, "it was the lack of any implied humour and the horrible surprise of such an incongruous message hidden away inside some trousers, that left me just plain stunned."


Stunned for sure but also a little disheartened. In this latest instance of broadcasted misogyny, there are two glaring flaws in at least a sampling of humanity for us all to lament: some people really believe that women are possessions that exist solely to clean up after men who've shed their ugly pants for the night and other people have a terrible sense of humor.

‘Sexist trousers' are below the belt [Telegraph]

UK pants label: Give laundry to ‘your woman' [CNN]

Image via @Emmabarnett