Melbourne Cafe ‘By Women, For Women’ Charges Men 18% ‘Gender Gap Surcharge’

If you thought cafe surcharges were usually reserved for Sundays and public holidays think again. A new vegan-friendly café Handsome Her is adding an optional 18 percent charge for male customers in Melbourne.

The vegan café in the city’s inner north suburb of Brunswick, labels itself as a café “by women, for women” and stipulates three anti-patriarchal “house rules” which include priority seating for women, a premium charge for males and respect for both genders.

The moment one enters the space, the first few things that a person notices is the smell of freshly brewed coffee and the décor that strongly speaks of female empowerment – with a wall dedicated to strong women leaders across the world.

The café offers a range of sweet and savory options. Also for someone who has never tried it, there is also the option of trying an amazing charcoal latte made from sesame seeds and with the customer’s choice of milk.

Try a delicious charcoal latte

Handsome Her is a cafe where women reign supreme, with the owner, Alexandra O’Brien, explaining she wants the surcharge on men to address the gender pay gap.

One week out of every month we have an 18 percent premium for men which is the same as the gender pay gap,” she said.

“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.”

To date, no one has ever refused to pay the tax.

The tax also only applies to men who come for solo dining and do not have to pay the tax if they are accompanied by a woman.

The first round of money raised from the optional “man tax” – a figure that originates from a 2016 report published by Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency that found women on a full-time salary faced a pay gap of 17.7 percent – was donated to the Elizabeth Morgan House. A Victoria-based service that specialises in support for Indigenous women and children who have endured family violence.

“I think it is a great concept. We have had enough protests to deal with issues like these but having something like this not only gets the conversation started but really helps fight the issue,” said Amy Carragher, a customer at the café.

The idea though caused quite a storm on social media and got quite mixed reactions. On one side people loved the idea.

Though on the other, people thought it was really hypocritical and would widen the gender gap than reducing it.

Whatever side you swing on, this amazing little café sure does deserve a visit. Remember though, if you’re a guy make sure you take your gal friends with you unless you don’t mind paying the extra 18% tax.


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