With a résumé that includes roughly two decades of open relationships, local author and polyamory advocate Wendy-O Matik is, arguably, one of the world's leading authorities on "radical love." (Though terms like "authority" undoubtedly go against her egalitarian views.) She has taught more than one hundred workshops, and her book Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines for Responsible Open Relationships is now required reading in the human sexuality class at San Francisco State. In her forty-minute seminars, Matik teaches like-minded folks how to juggle multiple relationships and stanch possessive impulses. She champions "compersion" — a term for "when you feel joy happiness and joy in someone else's love that has nothing to do with you." For most of us, it's a tough sell. But Matik seems hard-wired to be that way.
Even as a young kid, Matik inclined toward countercultural ideas. She came up in the SoCal punk scene, joined a peace group in high school, and read anarchist literature. After moving north to study political science at UC Berkeley, Matik found a new home at 924 Gilman, where she performed spoken word between bands. "Growing up in the punk scene led me to read things that challenged society," she recalled. Becoming a "fierce warrior of the heart" seemed like a natural progression.
Characterizing herself as "gregarious and open-hearted," Matik claims she can fall in love on a dime. In fact, her definition of love is pretty wide-ranging, and includes the 72-year-old co-worker she adopted as a grandmother, as well as the homeless man on her street who is missing a lot of teeth and probably has a drinking problem.
On Thursday, March 13, Wendy-O Matik will lead a radical workshop at AK Press Warehouse (674-A 23rd. St., Oakland), where she will teach people how to confront their emotions, set boundaries, and stop pining for the fairy-tale Prince Charming who will likely never arrive. She'll be followed, on Wednesday, March 19, by a similarly themed workshop on redefining relationships and deconstructing the traditional "nuclear family." Called "Parenting and Politics," the event features anarchist authors Jessica Mills and China Martens, who will discuss the social dimensions of parenting and show how to induct children into a "radical community." Both workshops begin at 7 p.m. $10-$15 for Radical Love; Mills and Martens request small donations to defer their travel expenses. AKPress.org or WendyOMatik.com
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