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Café charges 18 per cent “man tax”

Handsome Her, a vegan cafe in the Melbourne inner suburb of Brunswick, is protesting the gender pay gap in a way never seen before.

It’s all there on the chalkboard outside the café: “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.”

Owner Alex O’Brien says there has been no protest from male customers. One even donated $50 to the cause.

"If men don't want to pay it, we're not going to kick them out the door,” O’Brien told Broadsheet. "It's just a good opportunity to do some good".

"We are not imposing the surcharge, it's voluntary. I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit.”

The money raised by the 18 percent premium will go to a non-profit women service's group.

It’s drawn a mixed response on social media.

'At the very least they are telling the world how much they despise males,” one Twitter user said. "It's not every day that your boss pulls you into her fire-pit of feminism and you have to quickly become warriors and defend where you work and what you do on a level that others never do".

Some were delighted the venue had found a creative way to raise the gender pay gap issue.

But others were more critical. “Set you (sic) regular prices higher and give your female clients 18% discount instead! Unless you just want to be a 1-day sensation,” one said.

The initiative comes after a Workplace Gender Equality Agency report in 2016 found that the full-time gender pay gap is around 18 per cent, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.

The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 prohibits someone from discriminating against another person on the ground of the person's gender identity by the way of imposing a condition, requirement or practice.

by Leon Gettler, August 9th 2017