Ehrmann tackles masculinity

Recovering+from+the+three+lies%3A+Joe+Ehrmann+speaking+on+his+struggle+in+recovering+from+an+abusive+father+who+he+says+gave+him+all+the+wrong+ideas+about+manhood.%0A%0ARyan+Quinn%2F+Photo+Editor
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Ehrmann tackles masculinity

Recovering from the three lies: Joe Ehrmann speaking on his struggle in recovering from an abusive father who he says gave him all the wrong ideas about manhood.

Ryan Quinn/ Photo Editor

Recovering from the three lies: Joe Ehrmann speaking on his struggle in recovering from an abusive father who he says gave him all the wrong ideas about manhood. Ryan Quinn/ Photo Editor

Recovering from the three lies: Joe Ehrmann speaking on his struggle in recovering from an abusive father who he says gave him all the wrong ideas about manhood. Ryan Quinn/ Photo Editor

Recovering from the three lies: Joe Ehrmann speaking on his struggle in recovering from an abusive father who he says gave him all the wrong ideas about manhood. Ryan Quinn/ Photo Editor

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Recovering from the three lies: Joe Ehrmann speaking on his struggle in recovering from an abusive father who he says gave him all the wrong ideas about manhood. Ryan Quinn/ Photo Editor

Recovering from the three lies: Joe Ehrmann speaking on his struggle in recovering from an abusive father who he says gave him all the wrong ideas about manhood.
Ryan Quinn/ Photo Editor

“The single greatest crisis in America today is the crisis of masculinity,” stated Joe Ehrmann on Monday, Nov. 3 during an evening talk to the Saint Louis University community.

Born in 1949, Ehrmann lived most of his life without seeing his father. He experienced the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, the war on poverty, and the anti-war movement, which affected him profoundly later on in life. After playing professional football for 13 years, Ehrmann decided to finally address some of the issues he had faced throughout his life experiences.

The crisis of masculinity, according to Ehrmann, tackles the question of what it means to be a man in America. The typical stereotypes many men fall prey to are the belief they must be wealthy, athletic, and have beautiful women by their side. Instead of being themselves, men are taught to hide emotions and follow the status quo. Ehrmann said that he too, fell prey to the stereotype at an early age.

Ehrmann believes that if individuals do not address the notion of masculinity, America cannot move forward. By repressing their emotions from a very early age, up to 80 percent of men suffer from some form of alexithymia, or the inability to put feelings into words, Ehrmann said.  This is often a precursor to acts of violence, bullying, isolation, and substance abuse among men.

Tracy Gutzke, a sophomore who attended the event, commented, “Before this talk, I definitely fell prey to the typical definition of what it meant to be a man. Now, I understand that America’s definition [of masculinity] is hurting men, not supporting them.” Ehrmann’s definition can be applied to women as well. Women, like men, are constantly bombarded with what it means to be a woman, and likewise has negative effects.

Hosted by SLU’s Faith and Justice Collaborative, the Department of Athletics, and IFC Fraternity Life, the purpose of Ehrmann’s talk was to show men how deem their masculinity in two ways. First, Ehrmann stated, that by building relationships and learning to love, and be loved, men could stop repressing their emotions. Second, by making the world a better place, men can leave an imprint on this Earth.

Because the talk was mainly geared toward student athletes, many wondered what role competition played in the concept masculinity

“Competition does not have to be an ‘I win and you lose’ situation. Competition is about a mutual quest for excellence,” answered Ehrmann. Instead of trying to define one’s masculinity through sports, men should try to better themselves on a spiritual level.

From a professional football player, to a minister and motivational speaker, Ehrmann hopes that by solving the root problem of what it means to be a man, violence–especially against women–will end. Until men rise up, and have the moral clarity and courage to call out others, the problem will never end.

In addition to the crisis of masculinity, Ehrmann briefly tackled a wide range other problems.

“We still live in a world full of racism and sexism and a whole lot of other ‘isms’ that marginalize and minimize other human beings,” Hermann said. However, he commented that today’s generation is a sign of hope, not only for student’s families, but the community, the country, and the globe. Based on SLU’s education and spiritual foundation, students can be a beacon of optimism to let people know that tomorrow can be different from today.

Named on the “100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America”, Ehrmann has inspired thousands to redefine masculinity as one’s capacity to love, be loved, and commit to a cause.

Gutzke stated, “I thought his speech ended on a powerful note. Humans constantly fall prey to stereotypes, but we don’t have to anymore. Things can change for the better.”