ChEd Talks: Bestselling Author Caitlin Moran Speaks at CHS

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Bestselling author, journalist and broadcaster Caitlin Moran became the latest person to feature in a ChEd Talks event at CHS last week. The prominent feminist and Sunday Times columnist, interviewed by Head Teacher Neil Smith, offered lots of fascinating areas of discussion and debate, as well as plenty of laughs along the way.

On appearing at CHS ahead of the event, she said: “It’s really important to speak to the people you really want to hear what you have to say on these topics. With the best will in the world, parents have a lot on their plate, sometimes it’s best to go to the teenagers directly. They are the ones who want the answers more than parents.”

In her latest book What About Men, Moran has made somewhat of a departure from her previous works, by focusing on men and boys, toxic masculinity and how to foster positive conversations in the social media age.

This area formed a lot of the evening’s discussion, with lots for pupils and parents to consider and engage with, particularly in the Q and A session which followed the initial hour conversation.

For example, due to the perceived popularity of certain controversial influencers such as Andrew Tate, the discussion turned to what positive male role models exist in 2023, with Moran pointing out a local example to CHS.

 “We are still surrounded by good role models. Someone like Marcus Rashford; look what he’s achieved, where he comes from and the people that he represents. The problems that he’s seen and to come up with a solution, and all whilst being an amazing footballer, as far as I understand [she said jokingly].

“Keanu Reeves was someone that came up time and time again when I researched this. Andrew Tate sees the film The Matrix as proof of a conspiracy theory to crush men, whereas the guy who was actually in The Matrix is the complete opposite to Tate’s toxic masculinity. If we could all be a bit more Keanu and a bit less Tate the world would be a better place.”

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She suggested that the current generation of young men now needed to begin outlining what new role models should look like: “I think it’s an interesting project for any group of young men. Let’s talk about all of the different types of male role models, throughout history as well as now. Let’s discuss what types of role models we’d like to see. Let’s invent a hero, someone you’d like to see in the next 5 years. “

Another tip Moran offered was approaching teenage boys to have serious discussions, which she suggested are much more difficult to have with boys than girls.

“Young men can find direct questions hard to cope with. Something where you don’t have direct eye contact can help. For example when you’re in the car and they are in the back seat, or, if you are doing something together; going for a walk, fishing, mending something. It’s about engineering those scenarios, which is hard for busy parents. Especially with teenager’s sleeping patterns [she said jokingly].”

Following lots of other areas of discussion on female body image, misinterpreting feminism and a number of humorous celebrity anecdotes, Moran took questions from the audience. A wide range of interesting questions came forward, from parents and pupils alike. Topics included explaining feminism to those who misunderstand it, as well as the psychological differences between girls and boys during the teenage years.

The evening concluded with a book signing session, as many attendees queued to speak with the guest speaker, have their books signed, enjoy a chat and grab a selfie.

Rounding up the evening, Head Teacher Neil Smith said: “On behalf of CHS, I’d like to thank Caitlin for sharing her experiences, and insight with us on what was a very thought-provoking, intriguing and entertaining evening.

“Parents have a very difficult challenge because the pressures that are prevalent today simply weren’t apparent when we were teenagers. I particularly liked Caitlin’s keep-it-simple, honest approach to starting conversations. We hope that every pupil, parent and teacher in attendance were able to take inspiration from the evening and into their futures.”

View of photo gallery here. 

View the round up video here.