Handsome Her, a vegan cafe in Melbourne, Australia, has only been open a week, but it has already raised a lot of eyebrows. It's not because of the vulva stones beside the cash register or the period-themed sticker packs it stocks, but because of a few words written in yellow chalk and posted at the front of the restaurant.
The owners of Handsome Her have written out three house rules for their patrons: first, women have priority seating; next, the cafe will charge men "an 18% premium to reflect the gender pay gap" and those extra dollars and cents will be donated to a women's service; and finally, "respect goes both ways."
Unsurprisingly, it's the second rule that has grabbed everyone's attention, even though it's voluntary and will only be "enforced"—as much as an optional upcharge can be enforced—for one week every month. "I do want people to think about [the wage gap], because we've had this for decades and decades and we're bringing it to the forefront of people's minds," owner Alex O'Brien told Broadsheet. "I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit."
O'Brien said that, so far, all of the cafe's male customers have been on board, and one man even donated $50 to support the cause. (This month, the Dude Tax will be donated to Elizabeth Morgan House, which provides support for Aboriginal women and children who have been the victims of domestic violence.) She also said that men will be asked if they'd like to participate. "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 told News.com.au. "It's just a good opportunity to do some good."
Despite their good intentions and willingness to start a dialogue about inequality, there are a lot of men who are at least 18 percent butthurt about this idea—and a lot of them are thousands of miles from Handsome Her's rules and chalkboard anyway. "Tell me who built the restaurant, provides your power, water gas, your ingredients, all around the clock. All female workers?" a man in the Netherlands harrumphed on Twitter. "When you get sued, you will learn about the sentencing gap and get let off with a warning," some dude in Oregon wrote. And someone named MattDogg reported the cafe to Consumer Affairs Victoria, alleging that the cafe was discriminating against men. (Guys, that's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.)
That said, the cafe's suggested upcharge seems to have plenty of supporters—and, more importantly, they're the ones who will actually have a cup of coffee at Handsome Her. "We've had men travel across town to visit us and pay 'the man tax' and throw some extra in the donation jar - guys, you're pretty neat," the cafe wrote on Facebook. "In three days we have opened the cafe, withstood a social media storm [...] and gotten Australia talking about the long forgotten gender pay gap."
READ MORE: Why Men are Afraid of Going Vegan
That sounds like a reasonably successful first week. MUNCHIES has reached out to Handsome Her for comment.