SIGH: A SA Barbershop Wants Exemption To The Equal Opportunity Act To Keep ‘Male Only’ Status

An Adelaide barbershop that bars women from entering its premises has applied for an exemption to the Equal Opportunity Act to maintain its status as a “male only sanctuary”.

Robbie’s Chop Shop in the South Australian suburb of Unley prides itself “on being Adelaide’s only male only barbershop”, according to a sign positioned at its entrance.

“We feel it’s important for guys of all ages to have a place to get away and chill,” it reads.

Unsurprisingly, the business has reportedly copped a bunch of complaints about its status as a “male only” venue and is now seeking an exemption under the Equal Opportunity Act.

FYI: The current act came into force in 2010 and replaced the Equal Opportunity Act 1995. Its legislation protects people from being discriminated against on the basis of their individual attributes, such as gender, race, age or sexual orientation.

Taking to Instagram in July, Robbie’s Chop Shop posted an open letter to its clients with a bid for their support.

It states: “A complaint has recently been made to Equal Opportunity SA about Robbie’s Chop Shop and its request that women observe our status as ‘the last male sanctuary’.

“Whilst we feel that this complaint is misconceived, we are doing our best to resolve the situation in a respectful and understanding manner to the satisfaction of all involved.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first complaint of this type that we have received, so in order to deal with them once and for all, we have decided to make an application for an exemption to Equal Opportunity Act.”

The note added that those behind the barbershop “do not feel” that they are “currently in breach of the Act”.

It also claimed that should the business be granted an exemption, its employees will “no longer have to divert significant resources away from doing what [they] love — barbering whilst providing a safe space for men to come together and discuss their issues”.

The callout has since divided punters, with several dubbing Robbie’s Chop Shop as “misogynistic”.

“Dudes like this will complain about safe spaces for marginalised groups and then cry about needing a men’s only barber as if they need it for anything other than to talk shit about women and not be called out on their misogyny,” a woman penned under the post.

A second person said they hope the business is welcoming towards trans men, non-binary people and “folks of any gender wanting a masculine haircut”.

On the flip side, one user questioned how a “singular male only barber shop” stacks up against female only businesses.

“Why is it that female only hairdressers, salons, gyms etc can exist but one singular male only barber shop can be an issue,” they wrote.

“This place is more than a barber shop — I’ve seen that first hand through my own brother and husband. Guys come here not just for cuts, but for the banter and environment… It’s sad that you even need to apply for an exemption when they’ve done nothing wrong in the first place.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first we’ve heard about discrimination from businesses largely targeted towards men’s haircuts.

In 2021, a non-binary person from Sydney told PEDESTRIAN.TV that they were almost turned away from a barbershop because they appeared to be “a girl”.

“He proceeded to tell me that they ‘don’t usually cut women’s hair’,” Gabi Bartlett said at the time. “This shocked me as I frequent this barber and had no issues before.

“I said ‘Well, I’m looking for a men’s haircut’, and he proceeded to say ‘but you’re a girl’.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Equal Opportunity Commissioner in South Australia told ABC News that an exemption to the act must be sought through a tribunal.

“Where businesses wish to discriminate against a group of people, they must apply for an exemption through the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal,” it said.