“The man tax blew up the internet, an idea that we didn’t think was all too radical, yet the way the world responded showed us how fragile masculinity is.”
A feminist-owned and operated cafe that made headlines around the world after introducing an 18% “man tax” on male customers will be closing its doors at the end of the month.
Handsome Her, a vegan establishment located in Melbourne, Australia, will be going out of business on April 28, according to an announcement on its website.
In a lengthy Facebook post, the cafe delivered a heartfelt message to its patrons.
“When we opened Handsome Her in 2017, we expected that perhaps we might make a stir through our brazen public discussions of structural inequality and oppression,” the statement reads. “The man tax blew up the internet, an idea that we didn’t think was all too radical, yet the way the world responded showed us how fragile masculinity is and solidified the necessity for us to confront and dismantle patriarchy.”
Handsome Her took aim at the backlash over its decision to institute an 18 percent tax on male patrons, sarcastically calling themselves “the evil, discriminatory, man-hating dykes who charge men more when didn’t you know the wage gap doesn’t even exist!?”
The company touted its ethical and ecologically conscious practices, such as “abandoning take-away cups, single use straws and napkins, by shopping locally and supporting women owned businesses.”
In its struggle against the patriarchy, Handsome Her was surprised to learn “that it wasn’t only men’s rights activists targeting” the business, but also those within its own community. Handsome Her was “taken aback to find that many people in the LGBTIQA+ community have as much aversion to us using the word ‘lesbian’ as the men’s-rights activists.”
The activist cafe sparked controversy in 2017 after instituting anti-patriarchal “house rules” designed to hit back at sexism.
“House Rules, Rule #1: women have priority seating. Rule #2: men will be charged an 18% premium to reflect the gender pay gap (2016) which is donated to a women’s service. Rule #3 respect goes both ways,” a chalkboard in the cafe read.
Another version of the sign announces that “women reign supreme” at Handsome Her.
— Paige Cardona 🦊🏉 (@paigecardona) August 3, 2017
Commenters were split by the initiative – Some were supportive, while others were more skeptical.
“I love it. Especially if it creates an environment where women feel safe,” tweeted Australian writer Erin Riley.
Handsome Her’s brand of aggressive feminism reflects a broader cultural sea change, in which women are exhorted to cast off the shackles of the patriarchal past – forcefully, if the need arises. Critics of this more radical iteration of feminism argue that such tactics are counter-productive and self-defeating.
“I get the idea behind it, but I can’t help but feel that it creates a bigger divide,” one Twitter user remarked when Handsome Her made international news in 2017.