Gillian Anderson’s Manifesto for Women
You may remember actress Gillian Anderson as Agent Scully on The X-Files, but she and her friend, British journalist Jennifer Nadel, have been quite busy lately on a far different project. This week, their book, We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, hits bookstores, promising to be a practical guide to healing and activism. We sat down with the co-authors to talk about the evolution of their self-help book, their goals and their hope that women will commit to supporting and encouraging one another.
Can you share how the book came to be?
Gillian Anderson: There was a point where I became aware of more and more articles about women struggling under societal pressures to be and behave in particular ways. I also read about the rising statistics of depression and self-harm in women of all ages. I started to think, if we are all struggling with the same fears and concerns (and this was before the current climate so dramatically impacted our anxieties and sense of uncertainty), can’t we find a way to work together, to reach across the societal divides to help each other out of this seemingly spiraling trajectory? We so often find ourselves in competition, we are hard on ourselves and we are hard on each other. And then I discovered that my good friend, Jennifer, was having the same thoughts, also with a book in mind, and we decided to collate our ideas into one.
The book is so timely right now—and promises a blueprint for a new world. What’s the most important part of that blueprint?
Jennifer Nadel: The message at the heart of this book is that there is another way of doing things—one that’s fairer and much kinder. Most of the suffering we encounter individually and collectively is avoidable. The nine principles which are at the heart of the book provide a way for us to heal ourselves individually, heal our community and ultimately our world. We all know deep down what’s right but we often find it hard to do the right thing because we’re all just trying to survive in a system that doesn’t reflect our real values. The book is a rallying cry to women to say enough is enough, it’s time for a new paradigm.
What do you hope readers will get out of the book?
Anderson: We hope that they will use it as a handbook for how to deal with life’s challenges as well as a springboard for becoming more active in their communities and reaching out to those in need.
You’re both activists. What if you’ve never marched or joined a protest but find yourself wanting your voice to be heard. What’s your best advice?
Anderson: There are many organizations that one can join online to keep updated on current events and petitions to lend one’s voice to. Moveon.org is a great resource for keeping current on political concerns. If it’s wanting to get more involved in charity work it can be important to first identify the cause that moves you the most. Whether it’s homelessness or reproductive or civil rights, there will be organizations in your community or in your city that are working to make a difference.
Nadel: Start with where you are right now. Look into your heart and see what causes it most pain and don’t judge what comes up. We all have different causes that we care most about. Next find a way, either online or in your community, of doing something, one small little thing to make a difference. To start with it might just be sharing a Facebook post, then it might be attending a meeting and before long, who knows, you might be marching. But not everyone’s activism looks the same so don’t get caught up in a competition to be more ‘right’ than anyone else. All that we’re called to do is do the best that we can and with love.
Gillian, what are some of your upcoming projects Parade.com readers will want to know about?
Anderson: I’m working on Viceroy’s House with Hugh Bonneville, which is about the partition of India and was just released in the UK. I’m also working on Crooked House with Glenn Close and Christina Hendrix and UFO with Alex Sharp and David Strathairn later this year.