School of Culture and Communication - Theses

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    Extreme males: autistic masculinity in three bestsellers
    Kelly, Peter ( 2015)
    Inspired by Simon Baron-Cohen’s theory that autism can be understood as an extreme version of typical male behaviour, this thesis will examine whether this view is reflected in the representation of autistic males in best-selling fiction (“Extreme Male Brain” 248). It will investigate autism representations in the context of hegemonic masculinity, by comparing the behaviour of Christopher Boone from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Jacob Hunt from House Rules, and Don Tillman from The Rosie Project to Linda Lindsey’s masculinity norms. These include anti-femininity, emotional reticence, success, intelligence, toughness, aggressiveness and an obsessive heterosexuality (Lindsey 241-7). While Christopher's surprising violence, extreme intelligence, insensitivity and stubbornness are masculine traits, his asexuality disqualifies him from being an extreme male. Jacob’s masculinity is shown in his aggressiveness, intellect and physique, but is undermined by his ambiguous sexuality and patchy career history. Don’s physical appearance, heterosexuality, stoic attitude and intellect are all masculine qualities, unlike his need for social guidance and apparent virginity at the novel’s beginning. All three characters are white and compensate for a lack of emotional awareness with hyper-rationality. Their paradoxical masculinity may account for their novels’ success. This thesis finds that these three fictional autistics are not extreme males by the standards of hegemonic masculinity.