Equalitist Chivalry: Vaginas are Doors Too.

I have been chewing on this issue since a year ago at a cocktail party, when a friend of mine with two elementary school-aged sons asked for advice on navigating the conflict of interest between feminism and chivalry.  Her eldest son, who is darling and hangs on her every word, questioned why men should hold the door for women if women can do it themselves.  Didn’t that violate the laws of feminism?  I did not have a clear answer then, but it seemed sad at the least (no thanks, I can open the door myself) to horrible at the worst (I don’t need you to hold the fucking door for me, asshole!) to do away with chivalry altogether.  In the end, it just didn’t seem right to criticize something that’s so… well, nice.

Today the issue was unwittingly brought to my attention again by another friend.  Because I am a Facebook stalker, I sometimes scroll through dozens of comments on popular postings to see what my friends have to say, especially because they might think none of their friends would do that (guess again).  You know, when that little message in your newsfeed comes up because one of your friends commented on something controversial?  This is what I saw:

She's my friend, but she's really nice so she'd probably let you stalk her too.

She’s my friend, but she’s really nice so she’d probably let you stalk her too.

My friend, let’s just call her “Er” for anonymity’s sake, is a gender equalitist (“equalitist” is not really a word, but “feminist” is misleading, IMO, and equalitists know we’ve had quite enough of that) that I admire.  Outspoken but friendly, self-deprecating, community-driven, and best of all, fucking hilarious.  She’ll take the joke over the jab any day.  Now can you see why I spent time stalking her?

As you might have guessed, Er was not really in favor of this article.  She is of a mind that manners trump chivalry, and on that point we agree.  (If I had to choose one, manners all the way.)  She brought up the fact that holding doors for women was born out of a belief that they are weak.  True to the parlance of these internetted times, she did not cite her sources (tsk, tsk, Er).  But considering that every person on the planet was at one point grown and expelled by a woman’s body (the vast majority without medication) I wonder how that belief could have been so widely held (open…hehe) as to spawn (sorry, I just can’t stop) that particular chivalrous act.

Besides, it’s a selfless act, opening the door for someone, and I struggle to believe it was born out of pity.  Knowing, as I so intimately do, the power struggles in my own marriage to a man, I assert that no kind act begins with viewing someone as weak and incapable, especially when they are in fact the opposite.

What if a desire to honor women begot chivalry?  Maybe we weren’t so disconnected from the harrowing tumults of life as we are now, and men recognized that women themselves are doorways, doorways to human existence.  Maybe it started with sons insisting that they hold doors for their mothers out of gratitude, and when they were old enough to marry and have children of their own, they extended that courtesy to their wives.

Aside from being the human portal for three fabulous little beings, I hold doors for all genders.  Chivalry is a gift we give each other, and nothing zaps the pleasure out of gift giving faster than criticism and expectation.  Let us not condemn or demand, but open.


Coconut Milk Poached Salmon

"coconut milk poached salmon"


Rejoice! This salmon recipe works for all seasons. Since it’s gluten, dairy, and land animal-free; it works for nearly all dinner guests too.

The first time I had fish poached in coconut milk was at Adrift in the historic, seaside town of Anacortes, WA. A piece of fresh caught halibut was swimming with bok choy in creamy coconut milk. I made it the next day with my first fish love, salmon, and have been improving on that attempt ever since. It’s best when you season the rich sauce and crisp one side of the salmon.

Poaching is key. It ensures the salmon stays moist even if you commit the cardinal sin of overcooking it.

You can make this in about 30 minutes. In one deep, lidded pan.

Serves 4-6

  • 2-3 lbs de-skinned fresh salmon or halibut fillets
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar
  • one lime cut into wedges
  • ground coriander and cumin (optional. In India they mix these spices into one product: Dhania Jeera)
  • green curry paste (optional. Thai Kitchen happily features only ingredients you would expect to find)
  • sesame oil (optional)
  • coconut cream or “manna” (optional)
  • fresh cilantro or thai basil (optional)
  • fresh spinach and/or freshly steamed rice

De-skin (both sides) salmon if necessary. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. On one side, rub salmon with generous amounts of salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander powder.

Heat coconut oil and a few drops of sesame oil uncovered in a large, deep saute pan (with lid, for later) on med high.  When shimmery, add salmon seasoned-side down. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until desired brownness achieved (move salmon around a lot at the beginning or else it will stick and you will lose your beautiful goldenness). Set salmon aside, raw side down on a plate.

Give the pan a quick wipe with a paper towel. Add one can coconut milk, salt, pepper, pinch of sugar, and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp each of the following as desired; turmeric, cumin, coriander. Stir in 1-2 Tbs green curry paste (more will make it spicier) then a few Tbs coconut manna or Trader Joe’s “coconut cream” (in a brown can near the coconut milk) to add some extra richness, although it is not needed. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce to simmer, TASTE IT, and adjust seasonings as necessary.

When you are satisfied with the flavor of your sauce, slide the salmon raw side down into the center of the pan. Bring sauce back up to low simmer around the fish. Cover and poach until done (depends on thickness of fillet, but this usually takes about 10 minutes – just cut into it and check).

Ladle sauce over steamed rice, fresh spinach (thanks for the idea, Ash!) or both. Divide salmon and arrange fillets on top. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro and/or Thai basil.

Photo credit: Ashley Cascio

Photo credit: Ashley Cascio