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'Get woke, go broke': Vegan cafe that boasted about charging male customers an 18% 'man tax' and seating women first is now closing down

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 24/04/2019 Zoe Zaczek For Daily Mail Australia

a dining room table: A Melbourne vegan cafe that charged male customers an 18 per cent 'man tax' for the gender wage gap is closing down © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A Melbourne vegan cafe that charged male customers an 18 per cent 'man tax' for the gender wage gap is closing down A vegan cafe that charged male customers an 18 per cent 'man tax' to highlight the gender wage gap is closing down.

Handsome Her, located in Brunswick in Melbourne's inner north, made headlines in 2017 when it announced it would tackle gender inequalities by charging men more and seating women first.

The unique cafe, run by green activist Alex O'Brien, announced it would shut up shop on April 28, after just two years of trading.

It was not immediately clear why the cafe, billed as a safe space for women and lesbians, is closing but it has previously faced widespread backlash.

a woman posing for a picture: The unique cafe, opened by green activist Alex O'Brien (pictured), announced it would shut up shop on April 28, after just two years of trading © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The unique cafe, opened by green activist Alex O'Brien (pictured), announced it would shut up shop on April 28, after just two years of trading

In a farewell post on Facebook, Handsome Her said the man tax attracted widespread criticism online.

'The way the world responded (to the man tax) showed us how fragile masculinity is and solidified the necessity for us to confront and dismantle patriarchy,' the post said. 

Handsome Her said they were a small business trying to prioritise women and women's issues but became the punching bag of Melbourne and the internet.  

Handsome Her concluded their farewell with a vague description of future plans 'up north' where they will be doing 'hands-on work'.   

a close up of a card: Handsome Her, located in Brunswick in Melbourne's inner north, made headlines in 2017 when it tried to tackle gender inequalities by charging men more and seating women first © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Handsome Her, located in Brunswick in Melbourne's inner north, made headlines in 2017 when it tried to tackle gender inequalities by charging men more and seating women first a person sitting at a table in front of a building: It was not immediately clear why the safe space for lesbians and women is closing but the cafe has faced widespread backlash in the past © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited It was not immediately clear why the safe space for lesbians and women is closing but the cafe has faced widespread backlash in the past

The man tax was launched when the cafe opened in 2017 and the owners decided the initiative would be imposed one week every month and the additional money would be donated. 

The impending closure has been met by a mixture of emotions, with many blaming the cafe's unusual initiative. 

'I don't celebrate businesses going out of business or people losing their jobs, but seriously alienating a good proportion of your client base is not going to end well,' one person wrote on Twitter.

'I'm glad they tried. I'm glad they were vocal about it. I'm glad it failed. There's literally no downside,' wrote another.

a man sitting in a restaurant: The farewell post goes on to discuss the LGBTIQA+ community and their attempt to 'bring lesbianism back into fashion' (pictured: founder Alex O'Brien) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The farewell post goes on to discuss the LGBTIQA+ community and their attempt to 'bring lesbianism back into fashion' (pictured: founder Alex O'Brien) a close up of a blackboard © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

Other social media users said the man tax was simply a suggestion.

'To be fair, from what I recall it was voluntary to pay more. Still, unsurprising!' one person wrote.

Despite the backlash, many women were upset the safe haven was shutting its doors.

'I am saddened by this news. I loved visiting your cafe and its friendly staff. You will be missed,' one customer wrote on Handsome Her's closing event.

a screenshot of a cell phone: The impending closure has been met by a mixture of emotions, with many blaming the man tax

The impending closure has been met by a mixture of emotions, with many blaming the man tax
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

'Omg, I am so sorry, I have seen some of the hateful stuff online, it is not fair and antithetical to a social movement, it is bringing down all sorts of wonderful women's community work and my heart bleeds for you and the community you have grown,' wrote another.

Handsome Her are offering a pay as you feel scheme from 3pm until stock runs out on their final day of trade on Sunday.

The money raised will be donated to Maiti Nepal, a social organisation which was built to protect Nepali girls. 

The shopping strip at Sydney Road, Brunswick, is filled with a number of cafes serving food and coffee. 

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