A vegan café in Melbourne, Australia has closed two years after introducing a “man tax” that aimed to “reflect the gender pay gap.”
Handsome Her announced the news on their Facebook page, but stressed that the 18% premium charged to male customers one week per month was not the reason for the shut down. The women-run café introduced the policy in 2017 as an optional up-charge that would be donated to charity.
“If people aren’t comfortable paying it or men don’t want to pay it, we’re not going to kick them out the door,” owner Alexandra O’Brien told the Herald Sun at the time. “It’s just a good opportunity to do some good.”
On Thursday, O’Brien explained on Facebook that although the tax prompted some hate from critics, it did not ruin their spirit.
“These abusive comments have been mostly amusing, only reinforced our views about how toxic sexism is, and great motivation for us to keep up the good work,” she said.
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The post also clarified that the business closed not because men refused to pay the tax (“Most of our male customers have happily paid above and beyond,” she said) but rather that the “social experiment” that was the restaurant had simply run its course.
“As much as people would love to believe it, sorry but the max tax did not run our business into the ground, we just don’t want to own a cafe anymore,” it read. “For real though, we have sold the business because we are young, educated and off on our next adventure!”
Along with the man tax, Handsome Her had other rules that fell in line with their mission of “female empowerment.” A sign outlining their house rules in 2017 stated that “women have priority seating” and “respect goes both ways.”
To honor their last day of business, the café closed down with the same priorities they started with—they offered a “pay as you feel scheme” with proceeds benefitting Maiti Nepal, an organization working to protect women and girls from trafficking and domestic violence.
“We remain ever yours,” Handsome Her’s Facebook post signed off, “the leftist, extremist, man-hating, vegan d—- of your worst nightmare.”
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