The Outsiders Are Growing Up to Be Violent : How Empathetic Reading May Induce Discussions about Toxic Masculinity in the EFL Classroom

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för språk (SPR)

Abstract: This essay argues that while the main character in The Outsiders challenges the norms of toxic masculinity on a surface level, his decision to continue fighting for his gang, the greasers, actually reinforces the stereotypical view that violence is connected to masculinity. Furthermore, it is argued that studying The Outsiders in a Swedish EFL classroom can promote critical thinking and knowledge of issues connected to gender through using empathetic reading.  Empathetic reading is a way to read carefully to gain new perspectives in order to discuss and criticize the text. Even though the term toxic masculinity assumes a healthy/harmful binary, it is needed since the power dynamics that sustain gender inequality remain. Recent events in the Western world, such as the #Metoo movement and Trumpism, are just a couple of examples of how power dynamics are showing through gender discrimination and sexual harassment. However, gender can be a sensitive subject in lower secondary EFL classrooms, and by focusing on being empathetic towards how others express gender may lessen the pressure of speaking about gender subjectively. 

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