Ladies First highlights women and girls who are making the world better for the rest of us.

The gender pay gap isn鈥檛 expected to close in the US for over 50 years. Things aren鈥檛 much different in Australia, where Equal Pay Day was recently observed to acknowledge the country鈥檚 estimated average 15.3 percent pay gap between the sexes. On that note, a new cafe is taking matters of equal pay into its own hands by implementing an 18 percent 鈥渢ax鈥 for male customers.

Handsome Her is a woman-run (and woman-oriented) cafe that opened in the Melbourne, Australia suburb of Brunswick in August. Their chalkboard clearly outlines the unconventional house rules: 1. Women have priority seating. 2. Men will be charged an 18 percent premium to reflect the gender pay gap as of 2016. 3. Respect goes both ways.

It鈥檚 the second item on their list of rules that鈥檚 gotten the most attention. Handsome Her owner Alex O鈥橞rien tells Brit + Co in an email that the gender tax was decided on for a few reasons: To raise funds for various women鈥檚 charities, to establish the cafe as a women鈥檚 space first and foremost, and to set an expectation for conduct. The cafe was fully aware of the controversy and conversation that might ensue, but the level of hate from some of its detractors was on another level.

鈥淭he most surprising response has been the level of vitriol from some men online,鈥 O鈥橞rien said. 鈥淲e didn鈥檛 expect so many men to react so badly to an initiative which overall is designed to do good and raise money for a worthy charity.鈥

But it wasn鈥檛 all bad: A post on Handsome Her鈥檚 Facebook page detailed some of the positive responses the gender tax received. One woman brought her daughters in to thank the cafe for what they were doing, and some men were more than happy to pay a premium 鈥 and then some.

We鈥檝e had men travel across town to visit us and pay 鈥榯he man tax鈥 and throw some extra in the donation jar,鈥 the post read. The donations, O鈥橞rien said, go to the local Elizabeth Morgan House Aboriginal Women鈥檚 Service, among others.

Handsome Her also leads a number of other initiatives to empower women, from networking events for local female business owners to advanced management training for its employees, to hosting feminist discussion panels, and more.

Ultimately, O鈥橞rien hopes Handsome Her is a community catalyst for working on behalf of women and other marginalized groups, and hopes to inspire thought and conversation beyond just what鈥檚 on the chalkboard.

鈥淗andsome Her is for the misfits of Melbourne to be themselves,鈥 O鈥橞rien says. 鈥淚t鈥檚 for the LGBTIQ community to find refuge. It鈥檚 for women who don鈥檛 want to put on makeup or bleach their lip hair. It鈥檚 for any woman to disappear into and escape the unforgiving male gaze which penetrates the world we live in and holds women to the highest of standards.鈥

鈥淚 didn鈥檛 have a space like Handsome Her growing up,鈥 says O鈥橞rien. 鈥淚 wish I had.鈥

What do you think of Handsome Her鈥檚 鈥渕an tax鈥? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Featured photo via @handsomeher/Instagram)