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This café charges an 18% ‘man tax’ – and Twitter has lost its mind

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Kayleigh Dray
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We hate to say it, but the gender pay gap looks unlikely to go away anytime soon. In fact, a new report released by the Women and Equalities Select Committee has revealed that it has barely improved over the last four years.

So you can understand why so many women are feeling frustrated – particularly as misogynists continue to insist that the gender pay gap isn’t a big deal.

Alex O’Brien, though, has decided to take matters into her own hands: the owner of the Handsome Her café in Melbourne, Australia, has started charging her male customers an 18% premium, while women continue to pay the standard amount.

And that’s just one of three house rules that make this café a “safe space” for women.

Check it out:

The sign, which was shared on Twitter by Paige Cardona, is penned in brightly coloured chalk. But don’t let that fun signage catch you off guard, because it sense an important message:

  1. Women have priority seating
  2. Men will be charged an 18% premium to reflect the gender pay gap (2016) which is donated to a woman’s service
  3. Respect goes both ways


O’Brien, talking about her scheme to The Mirror, explains: “We’re bringing it [the gender pay gap] to the forefront of people's minds. I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit.

“One of my friends who works for a not-for-profit women's service was talking about the pay gap and I thought it was a good idea, so we decided that one week every month we would charge men an 18% premium, which we will donate.”

While plenty of people praised the idea (which, as O’Brien points out, is only in place once a month), there were still plenty of misogynists who just didn’t get the point that she was trying to make.

And it wasn’t long before they were getting their knickers in a twist about it on social media.

While O’Brien has yet to be met with such ire in real life, she has wearily explained to men that they will not be asked to leave her café if they refuse to pay the extra amount.

“If men don't want to pay it, we're not going to kick them out the door,” she said.

“It's just an opportunity to do some good.”

Because, yes, the money will be donated to a number of Australian women’s charities – and it will be drawing attention to the fact that Australian women only earn 82% of what men are receiving on a yearly basis (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics).



Here in the UK, the pay gap remains at 19.2%, meaning that, on average, women earn 80p for every £1 earned by men.

As it stands, women over the age of 40 are most affected, with those between 50 and 59 facing a 27% gap.

The Women and Equalities Select Committee says that the government is “complicit in a system that is undermining productivity and perpetuating the gender pay gap.”

“The gender pay gap is holding back women and that isn’t going to change unless the Government changes its policies now,” says Conservative MP Maria Miller.

“The pay gap represents a massive loss to the UK’s economy and we must address it in the face of an ageing workforce, a skills crisis and the need for a more competitive economy.”

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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