Here’s another piece of evidence in favor of the hypothesis that men are overly emotional creatures with incredibly thin skins: Jan Rankowski is a self-proclaimed comedian who has spent the past year or so terrorizing women like Brianna Wu under the name “Jace Connors” and the banner of #GamerGate, but he claims that once he announced that it was all a big joke, the other GGers doxed and threatened him.
I understand that this is supposed to be a very sad tale. Pity the bully who gets bullied by other bullies, finally causing him to realize that bullying is wrong. “I was only bullying ironically,” he sobs, “but now I know that was wrong.”
It’s all very moving, until you remember that this guy made a video claiming that he crashed his car on his way to Brianna Wu’s house to confront her, possibly with guns.
What is happening to Rankowski is, unfortunately, something that will never happen to the vast majority of other “comedians” who use the harassment and terrorizing of women as a punchline without ever fully understanding what they’re doing. He’s an extreme version of comedians like Daniel Tosh who found the raping of women hilarious and the nonconsensual touching of women in order to play on their insecurities an apt subject for his TV show.
Most people, I believe, are able to empathize with other humans, to be able to put themselves in another’s shoes and treat them the way they would like to be treated. Men like Jan Rankowski and Daniel Tosh, though, are incapable of empathizing with women, possibly because they don’t actually see them as humans deserving of that empathy, and so they will continue using women’s marginalization as a joke until they are able to experience that marginalization themselves.
While it’s fairly easy to get the brainless, hateful teens of Gamergate to turn on one of their own, Tosh will most likely never experience an ounce of what it’s like to be a woman. And that’s why Rankowski’s sudden change of mind means nothing: because it didn’t come from a place that gives me any hope about the majority of men who abuse women. It’s like the anti-vaccinationist whose child dies of measles and renounces his former views. It may be one less dangerous asshole in the world, but the conversion comes at a cost we can’t afford in the long run.