We now collect the hidden afikomen and each take a piece. When thinking about hidden parts of our Passover Seder, we also think of the ways in which sexism is hidden throughout society, benevolently, almost undetectably. Benevolent sexism is represented when a man shows polite behavior towards women (such as, walking on the side of the sidewalk closest to the street, or paying for a woman’s meal) but is not aware of how his actions are dehumanizing the woman. While chivalry can be considered polite, this tradition is founded in historical representations of women as weaker than men. In these types of circumstances, people may find it difficult to distinguish between kindness, tradition, and benevolent sexism. Men and women often disagree on whether or not a specific incident should be considered sexist, and this can result in polarization between men and women, rather than unification against sexism. Both benevolent sexism AND hostile sexism reflect views of women as underdeveloped adults, providing justification for men to be authoritative and monitor, protect, and make decisions on women's behalf. Additionally, benevolent sexism can also hurt men because it leads to toxic masculinity where men must be tough. By making a man feel that he must take control and “be a man,” he may not show weaknesses and let needs to let his masculinity overpower his true emotions.
Everyone at the table should go search for the a komen! After, everyone should eat a piece of it while reflecting on the ways in which benevolent sexism affects them in their daily lives.
After each taking a piece of the afikomen, we become aware of how we can each contribute to perpetuating unfair gender roles when it comes to sexism, even if we do not mean to play a role in this toxic culture. Eating a komen makes us aware of our actions, especially those that are “hidden,” how we benevolently contribute to unfair gender roles in perpetuation of rape culture, and the consequences this has for people of all genders.
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