It has often brought a disconsolate sniffle to the Twisty schnoz that clothes, which should be undemanding and sympathetic and, above all, on your side, always come to you infested with these authoritarian commands sewn into them. The commands are themselves meaningless, but I have detected their broader purpose as the Voice of Patriarchy.
First, the labels physically lacerate the back of your neck. This is the hair shirt of American capitalism, a constant reminder that you, a worthless drone, must suffer the consequences of your cheap insignificance in the form of your dependence on cheap crap from China and your willing acquiescence to manipulation manufactured by a megatheocorporatocracy indifferent to your suffering. If you try to remove these antagonizing labels, even carefully, with your X-Acto knife, you will rip open a seam and destroy the garment.
Second, the instructions on the tags are subliminal messages from the Ministry of Women’s Perpetual Busywork, intended to afflict the launderer with feelings of gnawing insecurity, inadequacy, and anxiety. Note the incomprehensibility of the instructions.
“MACHINE WASH WARM, INSIDE OUT, WITH LIKE COLORS. USE MEDIUM IRON.” “HAND WASH COLD FAN WITH GOOSE QUILLS ON VERANDA TO DRY.” “DRY CLEAN ONLY USING THAT REALLY EXPENSIVE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CLEANERS.”
The impossibility of fulfilling these divers and nonsensical laundry requirements is symbolic of the insane futility of housework in general. What the heck does “like colors” even mean? Hue? Saturation? Who, except a goth kid, has load-quantities of clothes of “like” colors? And what high moral purpose is served by turning a thing inside-out? It merely adds an extra inside-out-turning step now and and another right-side-out step when it emerges from “tumble-dry-medium.”
For chrissake, if you actually followed the instructions on every piece of clothing, you’d do nothing but hover slavishly over the Maytag, individually washing each scrap of your drudge’s trousseau, day in and day out, your life a ceaseless ablutionary blur of All-Tempa-Cheer and polyester dryer lint.
I spit in the eye of “DRY CLEAN ONLY’.