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Book Reviews ...
Reviewed: Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines for Responsible Open Relationships by Wendy-O Matik
Review by: James Generic
Whether to put more emphasis on one's politics or one's personal life has been a running debate between activists, organizers, and rebels of all sorts for a long time now. Where does your personal life stop and your efforts to change the world begin? Is there something in between? How do you go about living your life that goes along with your principles? These questions sometimes haunt me, because you can never really separate yourself from mainstream consumer society no matter how much you dislike capitalism. However, in this life, while you make compromises so you can exist, at what point do you go too far? I'll usually veer away from these sorts of thoughts since I've seen it cripple many politically-minded people and make their heads spin. The worst part is the questions continually come back.
Relationships are a huge part of who we are simply as human beings. Whether it's sex, friendship, love, simple companionship, or something in-between all of these, humans exist as social creatures. In fact, any healthy social movement for change develops strong relationships on individual and mass levels. So what's so radical about that? Well, it may look more radical when you start to think about how many things in our society have been the result of domination, control, and exploitation. Ultimately, much of what we think of as romantic relationships in the West is based on about male control, patriarchy, and jealousy, (which again, we all grew up with in this society). Alternative relationships, or open relationships where no one person has control over another's feelings, is an alternative model. In "Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines for Responsible Open Relationships," Wendy O Matik, explores how an open relationship, based on trust, honesty, and maturity, would actual work.
When it comes down to it, I highly recommend this book. I've gone back and forth on the monogamy vs. polyamory issue. (I don't like the term non-monogamy because I don't like defining myself as what I'm against.) Sometimes I won't do it because my partner is against it, and other times we compromise to adopting it. Wendy writes here that the key towards a successful open relationship is to be honest with one another that humans will be attracted to other people, and they can't shut that part of them down just because they're with someone else. Jealousy, much like rage, can shut a part of you down and hate someone you're supposed to love, or when someone cheats on monagomy. Wendy also makes the good point that relationships aren't just a black/white thing where you have lovers and friends, and nothing else. Another excellent point she makes is that open relationships do not mean irresponsible relationships where you don't have to take your partner's feelings into account or can just go marathon bed-hopping without letting your partner know what's going on.
If you're even just curious about open relationships or wish to explore exactly what love is, Wendy-O Matik is a great start, since it's a fast, short enjoyable read.