Handsome Her, a vegan restaurant that recently opened in Australia, has a rule: men are asked to pay an 18 percent "premium." Yep, that's right, this cafe is charging an 18 percent "man tax."
The "male tax," instated to "reflect the gender pay gap," is actually one of three house rules, all of which seek to address gender equality discrepancies. "Women have priority seating," reads the chalkboard outside the cafe's front door. That's the second rule. The third? "Respect goes both ways."
Owner Alex O'Brien, whose Brunswick cafe is marketed as a space cultivated by women for women, says she feels no ethical qualms regarding the male tax. "We’ve had this [pay discrepancy] for decades and decades," she told Broadsheet. "And we’re bringing it to the forefront of people’s minds. I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit.”
Because it's illegal in Australia to discriminate against someone based on their sex or gender identity, the tax is a suggestion, asked of each male customer when he orders. The 18 percent, which, according to a 2016 study, is how much lower the average Australian woman's income is from the average man, is then donated to a charity that benefits women, which will rotate every three months.
The first recipient of the "male tax" profits will be Elizabeth Morgan House, which provides specialized care to Aboriginal women who have been victims of abuse.
The "male tax" will only be in play one week out of each month.
So, how have the customers reacted? According to O'Brien, business has been booming, despite the expected negative reaction online. O'Brien is encouraged: Some men, she says, have even taxed themselves higher — one customer even donated an additional $50.