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Women Galore – Celebrating Women’s Words. Again.

Last year we hoped our feminist literary arts festival would become less necessary. Instead, it feels like we need Women Galore now more than ever.

Women Galore

Last year we hoped our feminist literary arts festival would become less necessary. Instead, it feels like we need Women Galore now more than ever.

Ah, to return to this time last year. In hindsight, it looks like an age of innocence.

In early 2016, when we put together the inaugural calendar for Women Galore, it felt like a celebration of a more female future. Sure, the origin story of the month-long feminist literary arts festival was that The Wild Detectives’ co-owner Javier Garcia del Moral wanted to acknowledge and combat the publishing industry’s struggle with gender parity. Yet, our conversations throughout the month around feminism were friendly and optimistic. We debated the necessity of this kind of festival and squabbled over the originally proposed name, Pussy Galore (who knew we were early to that semantics discussion!).

The conversations are more urgent, more political

As we’ve been putting this year’s festival together, the conversations I’ve had with women and men are more urgent, more political. The Women Galore calendar reflects those conversations. In talking about the festival I’ve been more actively describing it as a “feminist” initiative. In the line-up of authors and events, a conversation unfolds of what that means — What does it mean to be a feminist, to participate in feminism, to write a feminist book, to live a feminist life.

We kick off this year with a Backyard Activism Day — an event dedicated to helping engaged citizens plug into the causes that will actually make a difference in their city and in the lives of their fellow citizens. To help me plan that and other events throughout the month, I recruited a collaborator Austin Dupree — a woman who’s been involved in social work around women’s issues and is super plugged to the Oak Cliff community, who happens to be a good friend. She’s organized panel discussions for the day about how to run for public office, how to combat the wage gap in your own life, and also organized dozens of non-profits to be onsite with information about volunteer opportunities. We’ve even got another friend, Jessica Roberts spinning tracks, just in case there’s a movement for a dance party.

How quickly people throughout the city have raised their hand to collaborate on Women Galore is perhaps the most encouraging thing about this initiative. Art galleries like neighbor{hood} and Jen Mauldin Gallery will host shows by female artists. Bars throughout the neighborhood have signed on to create a Women Galore themed cocktail with a portion of the proceeds from the sales of that drink going to Genesis Women’s Shelter, an incredible organization that provides care for people who suffer domestic abuse.

Of course, because The Wild Detectives is a bookshop, our main focus is the literary arts and this year’s line-up still makes my feminist, bookish heart flutter. Authors include Chris Kraus (I Love Dick), Ann Friedman (Call Your Girlfriend podcast host), Sady Doyle (Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why), Jessa Crispin (Why I’m Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto), Liz Silver (The Tincture of Time: A Memoir of (Medical) Uncertainty), Deb Olin Unferth (Wait Till You See Me Dance). And that’s just a few of the month’s events.

For me, one of the bright spots of the past few months was the Women’s March. For a couple hours, there was a peaceful sea of humans walking from one place to another — no gender hierarchies, just people. The pressing question for a lot of us afterward was, “So now what?” We’ve got a long march ahead of us for equality, but as a bookshop this is our little slice of “Now what.”

See you in May.

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Lauren Smart is a freelance arts writer –former Arts & Culture Editor at the Dallas Observer– and she also works as an adjunct journalism professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where she teaches arts writing and criticism. The rest of the time she's just a girl with her pup.