Handsome Her: Australian vegan café to close after ‘man tax’ furore

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Vegan cafe's house rulesImage source, @paigecardona
Image caption,
The vegan cafe, based in Melbourne, said its last day of trade will be 28 April

A vegan café in Australia that levied a tax on male customers is to close after becoming the "punching bag of the internet".

Handsome Her was accused of reverse sexism after opening in Melbourne in 2017.

Its owners provoked debate by offering women priority seating and charging men an extra 18% one week a month.

Although non-compulsory, the "man tax" reflected "the gender pay gap", the owners said.

Two years on and the owners have announced they will cease trading on 28 April.

They made the announcement in the description of a Facebook event created to advertise their last day of business.

The reaction to the man tax "showed us how fragile masculinity is and solidified the necessity for us to confront and dismantle patriarchy", they wrote.

"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," they added.

In another post on Facebook, the owners insisted they were not closing because of "vitriol from men's rights activists" or because they were "not making enough money".

We’ve never shied away from controversy in the spirit of social justice and it seems fitting that we go out in the same...

Posted by Handsome Her on Thursday, April 25, 2019
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They denied reports that the man tax had run their "business into the ground", saying they "just don't want to own a café anymore".

"For real though, we have sold the business because we are young, educated and off on our next adventure," they wrote in the post.

Their announcement has received a mixed reception on social media, with supporters and critics showing both delight and disappointment.