David French observes that the different perspectives in the culture wars hinge on the way people answer one question: What is a man?
A cultural conservative would respond with simple biology and build from there. A man is a person with a distinct chromosomal and physical makeup who — from birth — is typically distinctly different from women. Men are typically physically stronger than women. They’re typically more aggressive than women. They typically have a different emotional response to events.
Thus, the raising and training of a boy is typically a different task from the raising and training of a girl. The cultural conservative looks at the male child and says, I want to train him to take care of a family, to be a provider and a protector. I want to channel his strength and aggression into duty, courage, and honor. I want to channel his drive and energy into a lifelong quest for self-improvement and service. In other words, I don’t want him to see his masculinity as a problem to be controlled but rather a gift to be properly enjoyed.
A cultural liberal — especially a secular cultural liberal — increasingly responds with a fundamentally different answer. A man is a person who believes that he’s a man. His masculinity is unrelated to his biology and instead inextricably linked to his self-conception. Since both men and women can possess stereotypically “masculine” or “feminine” traits, the terms themselves have little meaning — except as a means of understanding outdated and damaging gender stereotypes. To the extent that a man has any special responsibility, it is to combat toxic masculinity and to undermine male privilege. Masculinity, as traditionally understood, isn’t a gift to be properly enjoyed but rather a problem to be controlled.
He goes on to talk about the war movie 12 Strong, a true story about the heroism of American troops in Afghanistan, and how a liberal critic attacks its “model of masculinity.”
By the way, true manhood is NOT to abuse women sexually, but to protect them. Most of the current line-up of harassers and abusers are pampered, entitled wimps, very far indeed from the kinds of men we see in 12 Strong.
You’ll want to read the whole essay: Toxic Masculinity: Myth That Fuels the Culture Wars | National Review.