When Handsome Her opened as a “vegan feminist café” in Australia a few years ago, the establishment had several posted rules. Like that “Women have priority seating” and “Respect goes both ways.” But the most controversial rule on the cafe’s chalkboard was rule number two: “Men will be charged an 18% premium to reflect the gender pay gap (2016) which is dedicated to a woman’s service,” the Elizabeth Morgan House Aboriginal Women’s Services, according to the Herald Sun. That premium took place one week every month.
The gender-based tax caused the café to become the “punching bag of the internet,” reports the BBC. Many accused the café of reverse discrimination, even though the tax was not compulsory.
Now, less then two years after opening, Handsome Her is closing. The Herald Sun reports that on the cafe’s Facebook page, the owners stated, “We were just one little tiny shop on Sydney Rd that was trying to carve out a swathe of space to prioritise women and women’s issues, and suddenly we became the punching bag of Melbourne and the internet… We embrace conflict and leaning into the discomfort and think the world would be a better place if people would stop apportioning blame to others and start taking responsibility for their own contributions.”
On its last day on April 28, Handsome Her will host a “pay as you feel” event starting at 3 p.m. to use up all their food items, with proceeds going to an organization to protect Nepali girls and women. It will be followed by a farewell event that night.