Aug. 8 (UPI) -- A vegan cafe in Australia implemented an 18 percent "gender tax" for male customers to reflect the nation's gender pay gap.
Handsome Her cafe in Melbourne shared a Facebook post after a viral photo of a sign explaining its policies, including the gender tax, caused a "stir" on social media.
"In three days we have opened the cafe, withstood a social media storm, hosted a joyously entertaining trivia night for a fabulous women's network, and gotten Australia talking about the long forgotten gender pay gap," the cafe said.
The "social media storm" began when Twitter user Paige Cardona shared a photo of a chalkboard in the cafe that explained the house rules, including priority seating for women, an 18 percent premium for male customers to be donated to a women's service and a reminder that "respect goes both ways."
"All we really wanted was to raise awareness and start conversations about the gender gap," manager Belle Ngien told CNN.
The reaction on social media ranged from joyous support to accusations of discrimination, but co-owner Alex O'Brien said no guests have refused to pay the voluntary tax, which is in place for a week out of every month.
"If people aren't comfortable paying it or if men don't want to pay it, we're not going to kick them out the door," she said. "It's just a good opportunity to do some good."
The cafe said men traveled across town to visit and pay "the man tax" and some customers, both men and women, decided to pay extra in support of their cause.
"Eighteen percent is actually not a lot. Our coffee is $4, and 18% of that is 72 cents," Ngien said.
Handsome Her has collected hundreds of dollars for Elizabeth Morgan House Aboriginal Women's Service and the owners said they are proud of their employees for handling the increased attention.
"It's not every day that your boss pulls you into her fire-pit of feminism and you have to quickly become warriors and defend where you work and what you do on a level that others never do," the cafe said. "You have not only been incredibly strong, proud and supportive, but nurturing and protective as well. "