Wendy-O Matik interviewed
Wendy-O Matik, cultural radical and former punk musician, wrote one of the early books on polyamory: Redefining Our Relationships (Defiant Times Press, 2002). It's now in its 7th printing. It reads, says Hakim Bey, "like a punk-rock Ann Landers channeling Emma Goldman and Victoria Woodhull."
Matik (born Wendy Millstine) is still a street-level activist and leads Radical Love & Open Relationships workshops. She recently held one at the warehouse of AK Press, a worker-owned anarchist/radical publisher in Oakland, California. AK Press has posted an interview it did with her at the scene:
Redefining Our Relationships: An Interview with Wendy-O Matik
By macio | February 19, 2010
Wendy-O Matik, radical love activist and author of Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines For Responsible Open Relationships, recently held one of her famous workshops at AK Press. I used the opportunity to do a brief interview....
Wendy: ...I’m beaming with enthusiasm and radical love inoculations, even after 7 years of peddling polyamory workshops across the globe.
Macio: ...what are your favorite parts about these workshops? Do you have a least favorite part?
Wendy: My favorite part of the radical love workshop is visibility. There’s this critical moment when a group of total strangers begin to look around the room and acknowledge that they are not alone, we’re not alone, we’re in it together, and we are all struggling to figure out our unique relationships and it is extremely validating. I am deeply grateful to play some small role in bringing people together to create allies and building community support.
My least favorite or most challenging aspect of my workshop is being a facilitator. It can very challenging to occasionally deal with people who frequently dominate a discussion, or people who give unsolicited advice or try to solve someone’s issues. I also get disappointed when I’ve spent the greater part of my work dedicated to how radical love is linked to social justice, revolution, and saving the planet, and still most folks default to sex and juggling multiple sexual partners. I am, of course, more interested in love and intimacy, not sex and sexual conquest. I am committed to smashing patriarchy and relationship heirarchies whenever possible.
...Some day, I do hope to do a second edition, where I would like to develop at greater length this notion of how the practice of loving more is not just focused on people but also a critical part of loving the planet. Radical love has come to embody a form of political, social, and environmental justice for me, deepening over the years. The tendency for more poly folks to focus on sex, and while sex may be a delicious and fun part of open relationships, it fails to tap into our innate ability to love all species, non-humans and the planet.... Radical love has, at this core, an innately spiritual component, centered on global family, a sacred global interconnection.
Macio: What are some of your life experiences that have ushered you toward the idea of loving openly and without bounds?
Wendy: As a child, I was taught to love everyone. As an adult, I still do....
...Everywhere I’ve traveled or people I have connected with — from Canada to the US to Australia to Malaysia — are hungry for new relationship models. Many of them are already practicing different kind of open relationship structures and are eager to find others to connect with and discuss openly their unique experiences.
Macio: Understandably, going against the grain of how we have been trained to love requires us to confront a lot of inner demons. What are some quick tips for people out there attempting trying to maintain open relationships but running into fears around jealousy, loneliness and other insecurities?
Wendy: Quick tips:
* Read everything you can on the topic of open relationships, jealousy, setting boundaries, communication skills, and building self-esteem.
* Join or create a poly support group via online, chat-rooms, forums, or in your community locally.
* Find workshops and presentations on the topic of open relationships and polyamory. Bring your questions and issues to these gatherings.
* If you’re really struggling emotionally, find a poly-friendly therapist who can help you navigate those difficult issues that you’re facing.
...Radical love has the potential to shift the dominant paradigm, to embrace institutional change and to dismantle systems of oppression, such as capitalism, greed, and patriarchy, but only if we’re interested in smashing the system and rebuilding it with a more holistic paradigm to replace it. As a feminist and anarchist in spirit, open relationships go to the very core of patriarchy and threaten to disrupt men’s historical control over how we love, who we love, how many we love.
Read the whole bang-up interview (Feb. 19, 2010).
Interview with Matik on KFPA radio.
Internet talk radio interview on Voice America (registration required).
Interview on Sex With Emily podcast.
Print interview in East Bay Express (May 17, 2006).