Australian cafe that charged 'man tax' to close

by Michael Taylor | @MickSTaylor | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 25 April 2019 08:08 GMT

A photo illustration shows a coffee reflected in a coffee machine after it was made for a customer at a Sydney cafe in Australia, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray/Illustration

Image Caption and Rights Information

The cafe charged men an 18 percent premium to reflect the gender pay gap

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A vegan cafe in Australia that charged men an 18 percent premium to reflect the gender pay gap with the funds given to charity is to close, its owners said on Thursday.

Soon after opening its doors in August 2017, Handsome Her in Melbourne caused an online and media storm when a photograph of a chalkboard outside the cafe explaining its voluntary "man tax" and women priority seating hit Twitter.

While some praised the idea, others railed on social media that this was "reverse sexism" and did little to tackle inequality for both sexes.

Co-owner Alexandra O'Brien said the response went crazy.

"It was like a Robin Hood theory of taking from the rich and giving to the poor," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"It helped kick-start some of the strong foundations with the community that were built."

Described on the cafe's Facebook page as a "man tax", the premium was only meant to run for one week each month, but was made permanent after the publicity led to an increase in customers asking to pay, O'Brien said.

Co-owners O'Brien and partner Tessa Plueckhahn said they were closing the cafe - that was also used as a meeting space for women's and LGBT+ groups - as they wanted to move on to other causes and travel around Australia.

(Reporting by Michael Taylor @MickSTaylor; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.