The owner of Oak Cliff bookstore The Wild Detectives became aware of literary gender inequality and wanted to do something about it. He approached Lauren Smart, who was then the arts editor for the Dallas Observer and now works as a professor at Southern Methodist University, to program an entire month of events dedicated to women.
This is Women Galore, and it takes place in what Smart says can be a “conservative macho city."
In Smart's third year as programmer for the event, she says it's grown to more of a cultural festival.
“It’s bigger and it’s in more places this year than it was the past few years," Smart says. "We’ve got a comedy night, a theater night, we’ll have a concert, we have a drag show, and of course we have author talks and panel discussions, so it’s really grown."
Women Galore began when Javier García del Moral read women weren't getting published as much as men.
“Do women not get published because women don’t sell or do women not sell because women don’t get published?" Smart asks.
The program grows each year and is becoming more inclusive, with participation from trans and gender nonconforming people as well.
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Smart says when Women Galore began in 2015, there was an assumption among progressive liberals that Hillary Clinton would become the country's first female president. That assumption led people to believe feminism wasn't going to be as important.
"So there was like this whole in-the-air moment where we created this thing where there was this push and pull around conversations of feminism," Smart says. "And so I honestly don’t know if we would have kept the thing going if Hillary had been elected. I don’t know what would have happened with the festival. But she wasn’t, and so when 2017 rolled around, Javi asked me to do it again.”
Smart and The Wild Detectives have put together a “feminist outpost” where everyone is welcome to celebrate women and push for equality. Most of the events happen at the bookstore, but this year, they've expanded.
"We’ve got a drag show that’s going to happen in the backyard," Smart says. "We’ll be at Dallas Comedy House next Thursday for an all-female comedy night, and we’ve got a backyard concert, and we’ve got film screenings at the Texas Theater. And you know, people drink wine and coffee and have fun. So it’s a fun thing … but it’s also totally nerdy because we’ve got book clubs and lectures about things.”