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Café in Australia Charges a Man Tax To Make Up For Wage Gap

Handsome Her is a vegan café in Brunswick, Australia that has three house rules: women have priority seating, men will be charged an 18 percent premium, and respect goes both ways.

The 18 percent figure came from a 2016 report from Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, which cites the salary pay gap at 17.7 percent. This can lead to a 27,000 AUD (Australian dollar) difference in salary between men and women per year. Handsome Her’s surcharge, or “man tax” is optional and is only promoted for one week each month.

The “by women for women” café opened the first week of August, but a photo of the chalkboard that houses these rules went viral when it was uploaded to social media before the grand opening. Feedback went both ways.

“As a man–no problem with it at all. No reason women shouldn’t have their own spaces and be able to dictate what rules are in them,” wrote a Twitter user.

Others were more reluctant about the business concept, claiming that it created discrimination against men.

“If you want to fight for equality then surely treating everyone the same is the way to go.”

Someone else commented, “If it was the other way around, there would be riots in the streets.”

What these people fail to realize is that it is the other way around. That’s the issue! Aside from the enormous gap in pay, bars in the area have been offering “bloke’s night” (or men’s night) for years, offering discounts to men who enter the bar.

The “man tax” at Handsome Her is an optional surcharge that has brought a lot of attention to the wage gap. Every single day, women earn less and pay more for certain products and services; a reality that is not optional.

Alexandra O’Brien, the owner of the café, says that so many people came by to show their support during their opening days and some men even traveled across town just to pay the surcharge! O’Brien says that she swelled with pride at the amount of positive feedback her and her staff received.

Through the surcharge, Handsome Her raised 480 AUD in just ten days of being open. All the proceeds have been donated to the Elizabeth Morgan House Aboriginal Women’s Service Inc.

O’Brien says social justice, feminism, community development, and environmental responsibility are the four pillars upon which Handsome Her was built. Handsome Her does not use disposable cups and instead encourages customers to bring in their own reusable cups. They also offer mugs from their “Emergency Mug Wall” (which was donated by members of the community) with the intention to not have any paper cups in the café at all. Customers can borrow a cup or purchase one.

Handsome Her also has a community soil factor in the back, where customers can bring their own vessel and take home some rich compost for their garden. They plan to host many feminist events in the upcoming months.

Handsome Her is a progressive and innovative café that is bringing awareness not only to the gender pay gap but to environmental protection and other issues as well. The community should be proud to home such an amazing place.

Featured Image by Макс Радомский / Max Radomskii on Flickr
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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