The owners of a new Canberra bar have defended one of its "house rules," which stipulates that men must not approach women in the venue.
"Gentlemen, don’t approach ladies, and if you are so lucky to have one approach you, treat her as you would your mother. No hooting, no hollering. Be polite and approachable, but let the lady advance to you if she chooses,” state the house rules of Maple Bar, a new cocktail bar inside the popular Treehouse venue, which opened two weeks ago.
"Best manners and temperament are expected at all times. Leave your attitude with your hat at the door. Remember, nothing is on the house but the roof," the rules say.
There is also a "semi formal" dress code, which requires men to wear a jacket and tie, a smart shirt and pants, and leather dress shoes or loafers. Women must either wear an elegant cocktail dress or "dressy separates" and heels or dress shoes.
Sophia Kadinski and her husband Mike own Treehouse and say they came up with the idea after reading similar house rules at Neil Perry’s famous Rockpool restaurant in Sydney.
"Don’t approach ladies and if you are so lucky to be approached by her, treat her as you would your mother," Rockpool’s rules state.
"Canberra has a really big history of violence against women in clubs," Mrs. Kadinski told News.com.au.
"We really just liked the rules [at Rockpool], we thought they were quite special and cool, and Canberra doesn’t have anything like that,” Mrs Kadinski said.
"Guys have liquid courage at 2 a.m. in the morning and they can be totally disgusting, and I know women can be too. I have been assaulted in Treehouse and my husband owns the bar. We just wanted to create a low-pressure environment.”
The Kadinskis have received a lot of criticism on social media, but say patrons who have attended the bar’s two busy opening weekends have mostly been positive.
"It is what it is, but a lot of people have taken it the wrong way. It was meant to be in good humour," Mrs. Kadinski said.
"We’ve had some snarky responses about the dress code. They argue they feel well-dressed enough to come in.
"So we’re really trying to encourage people to try and check it out for themselves. It’s not feminist, it’s not sexist. We’re trying to encourage a pressure-free environment for people to enjoy a drink."