Handsome Her, a vegan café in Brunswick, Melbourne, is addressing wage inequality between men and women by imposing a controversial surcharge on the former.
The establishment’s policy, which is colourfully written on their chalk board, involves male customers paying an 18 percent premium “to reflect the gender pay gap.” Other rules stated that women have priority seating, and that respect goes both ways.
According to co-owner Alex O’Brien, the surcharge takes effect one week out of every month, and it’s not compulsory. All the proceeds from the voluntary tax are donated to women’s causes.
“If people aren’t comfortable paying it or if men don’t want to pay it, we’re not going to kick them out the door,” she said. “It’s just a good opportunity to do some good.”
The sentiment towards the idea has been mixed. Some have criticised the practice as discriminatory and hypocritical.
If it was the other way around there would be riots in the streets!!!
— 7th Panzer Division (@CroPanzerKama) August 3, 2017
Not a fan. Whilst appreciate highlighting the issue of pay, creating an us and them is divisive. Flip this, and Twitter is in flames.
— Pauloncè (@PJS_84) August 3, 2017
Divisive – surely they can understand that ostracising one sector of the community based on gender is not moving toward equality!
— General Soreness (@GenSorenessSC) August 3, 2017
I understand the principle, however, I’m pretty sure different prices based on gender is illegal.
— Robert Griffin (@RLGriffinGWS) August 3, 2017
Discrimination is illegal, regardless of the spurious intent. Do they hire male staff or do they discriminate there too?
— Stui Magpie (@StuiMagpie) August 3, 2017
Others have been supportive. In fact, the café is always packed with customers – a lot of them being men.
“We’ve had men travel across town to visit us and pay ‘the man tax’ and throw some extra in the donation jar — guys, you’re pretty neat,” the owners wrote.
I have no problems at all with this. If I don’t like their rules, I am entirely free to go to another cafe. Everyone wins.
— Matthew (@mstu1549) August 3, 2017
Highlighting wage gap in a very tangible wayand creating spaces for and by women 👌 As long as it’s trans inclusive it sounds great ❤️
— Margot Fink (@margot_fink) August 3, 2017
As a man – no problem with it at all. No reason women shouldn’t have their own spaces and be able to dictate what the rules are in them.
— Josh Elliott (@JoshElliott_29) August 3, 2017
I love it. Especially if it creates an environment where women feel safe
— Erin Riley (@erinrileyau) August 3, 2017
Pay gap def worth talking about but reckon much repulsive male vitriol comes from low-paid lads who can’t work out why they’re being blamed.
— Aidan Fawkes (@aidanfawkes) August 3, 2017
love it! Spaces for ladies is always great and highlighting the pay gap like this is harder for people to ignore.
— Fiona Cannon (@FiCan) August 3, 2017
The 18 percent surcharge was taken from a 2016 report from Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency. The study found that women earn or 17.7 percent less, resulting in a salary difference of up to AUS$27,000 (US$21,500).