This Lady-Owned, Lady-Run Australian Cafe Charges a Man Tax

In Austrailia, there is a new vegan cafe called Handsome Her that is "by women for women." While the concept of female-run cafes is nothing out of the ordinary, this particular enterprise is taking things to the next level by actively addressing the gender wage gap.

According to the chalkboard that is stationed in front of the entrance, male diners are charged "an 18 percent premium to reflect the gender pay gap." 

Why 18 percent? Because eighteen percent is how much lower the average Australian woman's salary was in 2016 than the male equivalent. Therefore the owner of Handsome Her, Alex O'Brien, decided that would be an appropriate amount for her to tax male patrons. 

"I do want people to think about it, because we've had this (pay discrepancy) for decades and decades and we're bringing it to the forefront of people's minds," O'Brien told Broadsheet.

However, this discrepancy is only brought to the "forefront of people's minds" one week a month when Handsome Her conducts a dialogue around the inequity. During the rest of the month, the cafe's main goal is to help women in need.

In accordance with their mission, there are other rules as well when you enter the cafe. All three are written on the same chalkboard that announces the extra eighteen percent tax.

"House Rules, Rule #1: women have priority seating. Rule #2: men will be charged an 18% premium to reflect the gender pay gap (2016) which is donated to a women's service. Rule #3 respect goes both ways."

Isn't That Illegal to Discriminate?

However, it appears that most patrons are paying the tax willingly. Some men have even voluntarily taxed themselves at a higher rate.

Technically, yes. But according to O'Brien, "We are not imposing the surcharge, it's voluntary. Men are asked if they want to pay the charge before being charged."

Despite the touchy social ailments that she is fostering discussions about, O'Brien sees her initiative to address gender wage gap discrepancies at Handsome Her as tongue in cheek.

"It is a bit more tongue in cheek. If someone doesn't want to pay the tax, we will just wipe it," she says.

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